Why Amazon’s New Brand of Wine Can’t Compete With Our Friend Two Buck Chuck

Photo courtesy King Estate Winery

Ready for the next hot discount wine? Don’t look to Amazon.

King Vintners of Eugene, Oregon announced in a release that one of its new brands, NEXT, is “the first wine ever developed from conception to release with Amazon Wine.”

NEXT will start by offering a limited run of three varieties on Amazon: pinot gris for $20, a red blend for $30 and pinot noir for $40.

I don’t know about you, but I would put those wines in the “splurge” column. Tasty, but splurge-y.

Buying Wine on Amazon? Sort of a Pain

Buying wine on Amazon is not the easiest of tasks.

Because each state has different rules for online alcohol sales, it’s not just a matter of breezing through and picking a variety you like. You have to cross-check your preferred wine with your delivery state. And once you place your order, you need to have someone of age on hand to sign for the delivery.

Sometimes, Amazon offers 1-cent shipping on wine when you buy a certain amount, like six or more bottles from the same seller. Or cellar. Get it?!

Buying by the case or half-case is the best deal via Amazon Wine, as you have the greatest likelihood of snagging that super-cheap shipping.

Amazon has plenty of single bottles under $10, but shipping can cost $9.99 for a bottle. Want two-day shipping? Better tack on an extra $18.

Amazon has started to expand its beer and wine offerings to Prime Now orders, offering one-hour delivery for $7.99. It’s comparable to other delivery services, like Drizly ($5 per order) and Instacart (delivery prices vary), which go to your nearest liquor or grocery store to grab what you’re craving.

Amazon Wine, meanwhile, is best served for buyers who are stocking up for a party, or have a favorite brand or varietal they want to keep on hand at home — without having to lug cases of it from the store to the house.

Why the Pricy Wine, Amazon? I Like Cheap Wine

There’s plenty of competition out there for inexpensive wine.

Sam’s Club recently stepped up its wine game to go toe to toe with America’s largest wine retailer, Costco. The boxed wine offerings these days? They’re super-solid. Trader Joe’s has cultivated a loyal fan base around its Charles Shaw brand, aka Two Buck Chuck. TJ’s even has wine in a can, which offers superior portability at 99 cents per pop-top.

So why is Amazon getting deeper into wine sales if it isn’t trying to compete on price?

Because Amazon doesn’t care about saving you money. Amazon cares about convenience.  

Amazon uses an algorithm to determine which seller — and price — it offers as the default for a given item at a given moment. A study conducted last year revealed dynamic pricing, which can change several times each day, can cause large swings in an item’s price. We’re not talking about a few cents here and there. It’s a couple of bucks — or a couple dozen bucks.

Amazon and its third-party sellers can get away with charging higher prices because of the sheer quantity of items it can ship to Prime customers in two days.

If you’re firing up Amazon instead of getting in the car or walking to the nearest store, you’re not interested in getting something right now. You’re more interested in having it dropped on your doorstep at Amazon’s earliest convenience.

So its wine offerings? No, they’re not cheap. But that’s not going to stop Amazon from selling one more category of product with its own label on it.

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.