Putting buyers and sellers together for wine transactions.

Wine-Owners.com is about putting buyers and sellers together for wine transactions. The site acts as catalogue and shop window, taking a cut of all sales. Sellers list their own wines by filling out onscreen forms which can include information such as tasting notes and condition report. The readability factor is pretty low therefore, especially as the process of getting to specific information is quite lengthy.

Getting the hang of how this service works takes a little doing, but once you understand the purpose of the site and the rules by which it operates, the navigation provided is pretty useable. Along the top of all main screens is a navigation panel with buttons for each of the main services provided by wine-owners.com such as Buy Wine and Sell Wine. At the bottom of all main screens is another navigation panel, linking to numerous other parts of the site, mostly reference and admin sections.

WHAT'S ON OFFER

Join Up You may browse around the site checking what wines are for sale without registering. However, if you wish to either sell wines or purchase wines, you must register. The process is relatively straightforward, and doesn't appear to request an excessive amount of personal information. You can choose whether or not to check a box authorising wine-owners.com to contact you if they feel there is new information that will be of interest.

My Wine Cellar Having established your account you may record your own wines in your personal cellar space. An on-screen form has various fields for detailing the wine: Wine type; Wine category; Grower; Region; Vineyard; Year, and so on. Some of these have drop-down lists from which you can choose, but it is still a long-winded process. In theory this service is offered simply as a facility to members, whether their wines are for sale, or simply for them to use as a computerised cellar book. If wine-owners.com genuinely wanted to provide such a service for owners with substantial cellars they would surely allow input via file-transfer, rather than this tedious typing chore? After each wine’s details are entered, a confirmation screen appears which also has an Offer for Sale? button. If you choose to offer the wine you fill in additional fields such as price and quantity. Otherwise your wine will not appear in any list, but will only be viewable by you, using your membership password. This service does allow you to log and update your wine cellar free of charge, but the rather cumbersome mechanism means it is really better suited to what is obviously its true purpose: posting information of wines you wish to sell.

Buy Wine This section offers a search facility where potential buyers can be matched up with sellers who have wines that fit their criteria. A simple search box is useful for general searches, but for more specific searches there is the option of Advanced Search, which allows you to enquire about subjects like vintage, producer and price. The list that is produced shows basic details of all wines for sale. By clicking on a wine you see the description provided by the seller. This also tells you the category of the seller (Private, Trade or Merchant). A button marked Buy this Wine will initiate a contact with the seller. You do not make direct contact, but wine-owners.com will act as go between. You now must sit back and await the seller contacting you: the onus is always on the seller to make contact; there's nothing you can do if they choose not to do so.

From then on the transaction is between the two parties: wine-owners.com are now out of the loop other than receiving a five per cent commission from the seller. Note that this is not an e-commerce site, and the actual transaction is arranged quite independently of wine-owners.com.

Bid For Wine Here the seller can elect to make the very basic details of wines in their cellar viewable, but not actually priced and for sale. This allows bidders to make an offer at any time, which obviously the seller may accept or decline.

OTHER FEATURES

Wine Reviews lets you look up critics' wine review summaries that members have entered along with their wines. You can also add review summaries to wines you are interested in for everyone else to share, even if the wine in question is not in your cellar. Tasting Notes allows you to read what other members think about wines you are interested in. You can play the critic too, by adding a tasting note against a wine in your own cellar.

More than the Hard Sell? There is not a lot of extra information available at present, although wine-owners.com suggest they will introduce resource pages of wine links and a wine events calendar, in the future.