This is a good site with an attractive interface and lots of useful information concentrating mainly on upper-end fine wines.

Who would have thought that one of the most venerable and apparently staid English wine merchants would have been amongst the first on the cyberbandwagon? And the site is good, with an attractive interface and lots of useful information. Berry Brothers concentrates on upper-end fine wines, though not exclusively so, and there is a lot of reference material such as reports on the vintage conditions in all the main wine-producing regions. Clearly more time and effort goes into this useful background information than on many commercial sites and adds considerably to its appeal.

The top of the page features a Wine List Search facility where you can quickly home in on wines by country, vintage, price or keyword. Further down the page you will see a long panel on the right hand side that offers navigation to the site’s main sub-sections. Within these, all screens have a navigation bar along the top: clicking the Berry Brothers logo takes you back to the home page, clicking the buttons takes you to the principal sub-sections.

WHAT'S ON OFFER

The Wine List
This fully database-driven site can be queried in very flexible ways, meaning it is easy to get to a particular wine or a selection of wines within your criteria. There are the usual fields such as country, grape variety and vintage, but you can also query the database by sweetness level, maturity, bottle size and price range. The latter offers a choice of pricing in Sterling, US Dollars or Japanese Yen. The site also has pre-set lists which you can browse such as ‘Best Sellers’ or ‘Fine and Rare’. Berry Brothers’ range runs the gamut of countries, styles and prices. As one of the longest-established names in the business their buying policy is tried and tested and the wines on offer are reliable. Prices range from around £4 per bottle (Berry’s House White) up to several hundred pounds for rare vintages of classic wines. A selection of wine accessories and books is also offered for sale.

The Service A replacement or credit is offered on the return of faulty bottles. Where a wine is not to your personal taste unopened bottles can be exchanged. Older bottles of fine wine may well have some ullage (lowered fill-level) and these will be marked as such and priced accordingly. Delivery is guaranteed within six working days (though there is a caveat that Northern Ireland and the Scottish Highlands may take a little longer). Berry Brothers also offer a storage facility: they will cellar full cases purchased from them.

Product Information The detailed information available on wines is one of the site's best features. For each entry in the table of wines, the left hand column has a link that brings up full product data. Click on the producer's name and you'll see a short
profile of the producer and a full listing of all their wines stocked by Berry Brothers.

The Ordering Process Quite a straightforward process. Alongside every wine is a small box where you can enter a quantity to select that wine for purchase. You must then click on Update Order at the bottom of the screen before moving on to another wine search. Each time you update your order you will see an order screen from which you can change quantities, delete items, or continue shopping. You also have the option to click on Complete Order. When you do so, you are taken into a secure server screen where a single form allows you to enter contact, delivery and payment details. It also confirms your order, including delivery charges if any. Once you are happy, click on Submit Order.


More than the Hard Sell? Alex's Wine Surgery is your chance to question Alex Murray, manager of Berry Brothers online store. Here you can send in any wine-related question or food and wine matching requests to him to have it answered in person. Wine News contains a lengthy and constantly updated list of news features. A comprehensive set of reports on the most recent vintages for the world’s great wine regions is very useful and many of the pieces — on genetically modified wines for example — make for interesting reading. There are also good vintage charts and links to other wine sites.