Are you finding too many wines on Wine Searcher unavailable? Wine searcher responds

I just started looking for a few wines for a tasting, and kept finding that wines I clicked on were out of stock, and either the retailer hadn’t bothered to take them off Wine Searcher, or the auction house had sold the wines recently, published the results, and again not taken them off the site. Seems to be just under half, which for me is unacceptable. It is not the time, as it is just a matter of clicking, although that is kind of annoying, but more importantly, it really throws off the pricing. If half wines don’t exist, it actually suggests that as a pricing tool, it is almost useless.

“Do you EVER click on links on the internet only to FIND they had misleading wording?”


Hi Mark
WS are reputed to take such things seriously and have removed listings (and all listings for persistent offenders) that are not kept up to date. Might be worth emailing them the offending listings

You can also add retailers to your ignored list (maybe only for Pro members?) which has helped me greatly in removing garbage from my search results.

Good idea; will not retrace my steps but will do it on my next search.

Mark - I’ve had the same experience in recent months. Three out of four Barolos I was looking for that popped up on WS at stores in NYC were not in fact there. Flatiron told me they hadn’t had the wine since August. Discovery Wines said they hadn’t had the wine I was looking for there in a while. I can’t remember what the third store was. In the past, I’d found WS pretty reliable but it seems that you really do have to go directly to the retailers’ sites all the time.

WS downloads the merchants’ offering of wines (list), therefore, if a retailer is not serious about accurate inventory AND positive customer relationships, on the blocked list they go!

Repeated O/O/I and DO NOT SHIP, go on the blocked list, which has a maximum of 300 blocks!

I’m always at the MAX blocks, illustrating the state of affairs in retailing!

Mark, Ive experienced the same thing and for many months if not longer. I agree, it throws off the pricing and results in spending much more time in finding the actual source. Should you communicate with WS, Id be interested in knowing what response your receive.

Bigger issue with WS (though not their fault and not easily monitored) is that there are a number of merchants on there now who are “shadow posting” (a term of my own invention.)

Simply put, they take the listings of others, add a percentage, and list the bottles as their own. Very common with US vendors listing wines available from Europe, but often you will see it with US vendors listing wines from other US vendors.

The matter came to my attention when a friend who owns a wine store asked me to look into some suspicious postings for the wines of a very rare and highly allocated Burgundy Domaine that were being offered by a new retailer in Texas, and their offerings matched those of my friend precisely- save for an increase in asking price. I called the retailer in question posing as a customer- and sure enough, the wines were not in stock but they could have them in 24 hours. And for the record, it is a Domaine I know well and I KNOW where it goes in Texas- and this new retailer could not possibly have had these wines on their own.

After that experience, I did some data mining one day and was surprised to see just how many listings (the number of retailers is small though) for very rare wines match up pretty neatly with those from other vendors, but always for a certain percentage more.

WS is still a terrific tool- and I use it all the time both personally and to assist in appraisals- but it has to be used with some skepticism and research where warranted.

This is slightly off topic from your original post Mark, but I offer it up because this phenomenon also impacts the use of WS as a pricing tool. I no longer rely on averages less one of a series of tiered markups based on rarity and broker demand to come up with resale value in a legal transaction between an individual or estate and a licensed broker/auction house. Instead, for my baseline starting number I look at the range from secondary retailers who I know are likely to have the wine in stock and for sale at a price that is likely to result in a sale in a commercially reasonable time frame.

The Chicago Wine Company keeps coming up with wines I’m searching for, only to not have it in stock when I click. I had previously considered them a legit retailer - anyone know what’s up there?

From a retailers side. Not defending WS by any means and we do not advertise with them but they hit on our database and list an average of 700-900 wines from our website each month. There has been more than one occasion that I’ve had to contact them because a wine still shows up on WS and we are sold out. Their response was they update once a week, that is not acceptable to me and it’s why we don’t advertise with them. There isn’t anything I can do about their listings but when I contact them they do remove it.
I’m well aware there are retailers that list products that they don’t actually have in stock but try to source the wine if they get an order, very risky if it’s a small or hard to get production wine.
I have also searched WS and clicked on a wine only to find out the search goes to a homepage and the product is not available. It drives me crazy!

There are a couple of wine stores in the U.K which use this business model, and Wine Searcher does make it fairly obvious who they are. I didn’t realize it happens in the US, given the legal obstacles for licensees to buy from other retailers within the state, never mind outside.

I didn’t realize they changed inventory weekly. How much harder would it be to it daily or where possible in real time? I hope they respond on this thread, and certainly iwill ask them directly if not.

Not trying to be inflammatory, but when was WS ever a good indicator of pricing?

That is the problem, it is used as a pricing tool in spite of its deficiencies.

Yes, I´ve also experienced sold-out bottles, maybe 20% …

Also some other annoying incidents, like rare bottles only available together with 3-6 cheaper ones …
or different vintages … or “minimum purchase 500 €” … [head-bang.gif] - or “no answer to e-mails at all …”

Overall WS is ok, but still could be better and more reliable …

I use

My experience was the exact opposite of what C. Bowman stated. I must say that I have no doubt that both situations can be true.

I found a single bottle of a hard-to-find wine via WineSearcher, bought it, and later discovered that the inventory hadn’t been updated to reflect that the sole available bottle was still displayed as for sale on WineSearcher. The retailer, via phone call, said that his electronic inventory hadn’t been updated yet.

In this situation, the retailer’s computer inventory was responsible for the misleading temptation.

Overall, I believe that WineSearcher Pro is awesome.

I’ve had several discussions with our IT team regarding Wine Searcher and related updates. We have a paid subscription/sponsorship. I’ve been told that our W-S listings are updated every day, but W-S is also based in New Zealand, so the actual update time varies I’m sure. Unfortunately, they are unable to pull the data in real-time although I’m sure that would probably require a significant increase in computing power on their end.

It’s time you trade marked it Victor

I order from them more than any other retailer now that HdH is 95% auction. I’ve noticed similar glitches in the system and believe that they sometimes transfer retail inventory to auction, which leads to a number of older bottles being unavailable simultaneously. I get the sense they’re a bit short-staffed.