Can I Order Alcohol Online?

So can you order alcohol online? Absolutely!! Well, that is, online liquor stores will be happy to take your order, but shipping it can be an entirely different story. Thanks to Prohibition, it seems that every state has its own regulations governing the sale of alcohol within its borders, and the Wild West frontier that is the Internet has resulted in slightly more confusion, not less.

Does it matter what state I live in when ordering alcohol online?

Yes, it absolutely does matter where you live if you hope to order alcohol online. When Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment, the individual states were given the power to regulate all alcohol within the state’s boundaries.

While the governments of two states–Pennsylvania and Utah–retain control over both the distribution and sale of liquor within their state, most of the other states have a hodgepodge of laws and policies dictating just which entities are, and are not, allowed to produce, sell, and distribute wine and other alcohol within their borders.

To find out the guidelines for purchasing alcohol online in your state, take a look at the shipping maps on the WineInstitute’s website. Or go to the online liquor store of your choice and read their FAQs or rules. Barring that, simply shop as you’d like, put your beer and wine and whatever else you’re buying into your online shopping cart, and then try to checkout. If it takes your address and doesn’t flag you, you’re most likely good to go!

Where can I order alcohol online?

There are many, many places online from which you can order your favorite six-pack or wine case. Big liquor store chains usually have websites, though if they only ship to the store, you might as well get your coat on and head there yourself. If you select your wines by the label, it’s easier to see the pop of color or attractive font in person anyway.

You can also do a search to see if your favorite corner liquor store has an e-commerce site but, again, if the shipping price is going to be prohibitive, you’re better off simply buying from them in person. However, if you shared a wonderful bottle of Chilean Malbec with your father-in-law while he was visiting you last month and he has told you that he can’t find it out where he lives, then you’ll probably do best by buying it online for him and having the store take care of all of the shipping and handling issues.

On the flip side, if you visited your in-laws and found a local vineyard near them with some really neat wines, you have two ways to buy that label online and have it sent to you. The first way is to call the vineyard or look up their website and see if they ship directly to customers and specifically customers in your state. The other way is to find out what online stores they distribute their wines to for sale, and order what you’d like from the distributor.

What about wine-of-the-month clubs?

Wine-of-the-month clubs, beer-of-the-month clubs, and any other liquor-of-the-month clubs are all great ways to get your favorite brew, Cabernet Sauvignon, or single-malt whiskey sent to you on a monthly schedule. Most of these entail purchasing a three-month, six-month, or twelve-month subscription online, with the chance to renew when the subscription runs out.

The New York Times also famously features a wine special whose advertisement you must have received via email at least once. This mixed case of assorted reds and whites is available by purchase through a link on their website and features wines picked by the columnist who writes about wines at the paper.

We’ve also seen assorted liquors used as fundraisers for online charities. For instance, Cork for a Cause has ten different charities from which to pick when purchasing a bottle of their Washington State Red Vintage Blend. Mutt Lynch Winery and Canine Wines help benefit dog rescues. Do your research and decide what matters more to you–good taste or helping out a charity–since it’s rare that you can get both.

Ordering alcohol online is usually fast and easy. If you have a craving for Glenmorangie or Bailey’s at one in the morning, you can certainly place the order for it, though it will be days before you can drink it. As long as you’re not in a rush to open the bottle, and you trust your postman, FedEx man, and/or UPS guy, go ahead and order your next cartload of spirits online!