Apps like Snooth, Vivino and most recently, Drync, make it easier than ever to scan the label of a wine or bourbon bottle, compare prices online, and place an order.
Costas Mouzouras, the wine director at Gotham Wines & Liquors in New York, says it is hard for him to be in favor of this type of app.
"Wine is an experience and should be sold that way, not just by scanning a bar code and seeing whatever is going to come up," he says. Although these apps might be useful in a supermarket where there is typically less hands-on help, it is not a replacement for an in-store shopping experience.
Wine buyers don't need apps, he says. "They need us."
Rather than order wine online, Mouzouras says, shoppers should consider buying from local retailers. Many stores, including his, can order a particular bottle for a customer if it isn't in stock.
The number of online wine orders in the U.S. is growing.
For the 12 months ended in June, the value of direct-to-consumer shipments of wine jumped percent from the preceding 12 months, to $1.5 billion.
According to research from the Wine Market Council, so-called high-frequency wine drinkers are more likely to buy wine through a variety of channels, including online. Frequent wine drinkers buy less wine from liquor or wine stores than the general population (37 percent versus 32 percent) and more from online vendors (4 percent versus 2 percent).
Men also tend to buy wine online more than women do, the group found.