Direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine shipping refers to wine being sold/shipped by the producer of the wine directly to you (the consumer). Many “experts” misuse the term to refer to any time wine is purchased online and shipped to a customer.
However, most online wine offerings are retailers, which means it is not sold/shipped by the producer to you. Retailers must have legal title to the product (meaning they must have purchased it) before they can sell it to you. They also usually have taken possession of the wine once they’ve purchased it. Therefore, any sale of wine by a retailer is NOT DTC.
Why should you care?
You should care because misusing the term DTC is indicative of one or both of the following: (1) dishonesty; and/or (2) incompetence. Many offerings use the term DTC to convey some measure of quality and authenticity by having had the product come straight from the passionate producer. However, they are either misleading you or they simply don’t know the difference. Either way, it’s probably not someone you want to rely on.
How can you spot the difference?
You can know the difference by paying attention to some of the language on the website. Does it say that the wine is sold and shipped by? Also, the biggest tell is usually whether they are selling imported wine. By law, imported wine cannot come directly from the producer. This is actually one of the few federal guidelines, so this is the case regardless of which state you are in. Additionally, and quite frankly, the economics of it don't make any sense. Do you really think some small producer in Italy is paying the shipping costs to send a few bottles of wine overseas? Thus, if someone is claiming to sell you imported wine “DTC,” they are either lying or don’t know the difference. In other words, you might want to rethink whether you want to rely on them.
But hey - you have a wine from Argentina on Winestyr!
Good eye and thanks for noticing! The juice that makes these amazing Hand of God Wines is from Argentina. However, it is bottled here in the U.S. in Seattle, Washington under the appropriate U.S. licenses. Pretty cool, huh? We think so.
Where can you learn more?