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On-Wine Services
By Alan S. Kay

Wine Web sites can't pour you a glass, or even convey very successfully what a given wine will taste like. What they can do is help explain a complicated marketplace that's always changing and rife with snobbery, and empower you with basic knowledge and suggestions for how to proceed. These sites do that very well.

Robin Garr's Wine Bargain Page
This is one of the best sites going if you're looking for a wine recommendation or information about a specific wine. Garr, a Louisville-based wine writer, offers tasting notes and guides to good wines and bargains, all written to be accessible to those who aren't used to wine-speak. He's a rarity among wine professionals: He buys the wines he tastes at retail and has no business connections in the wine industry. At the site you'll find current wine tasting notes and an archive, an online discussion group, a wine shopping list you can take to the store, educational materials for the novice and, best of all, a searchable database of Garr's tasting notes and recommendations.

David's Big Giant Whine Cellar html/whines.html
This is the sort of thing the Web excels at: one person's avocation, spread out before you with a certain artful artlessness. David lists wines he's tasted in broad rating categories with brief characterizations. Oenophiles may find the descriptions limited, but for you and me it's a great opportunity to walk into a wine store with a list in hand rather than having to stare at all those bottles on the shelf. And if you find you agree with his evaluations, here's a great resource for keeping some good wine on hand. Check out his Tips on Buying and Keeping Wine.

The Wine Spectator
This publication has become the de facto starting point for serious education and information about wine, and for picking up the occasional inside tidbit or recommendation. The Spectator's reach is broad, from the Napa Valley and Paso Robles to Australia, the vineyards of the Bordeaux and the Burgundy to the reds of Chile and Spain. You can search 55,000 wine reviews and read articles published in the Spectator since 1994. Chats and bulletin boards are available, as are pointers to restaurants with great wine lists of local wine retailers.

All three of these sites offer extensive links to Web wine resources. In addition, curious wine seekers can check out The Wine Page, which offers links plus tasting notes, info on the Seattle area and Long Island wine scenes and one of the best FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) lists available on wine.

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