Wine Enthusiast Integrates Catalog, Content Online

If you're publishing a magazine and a catalog, and each has its own website, I suppose it makes sense to integrate the two.  At any rate, that's what WineEnthusiast has done.

Wine Enthusiast Cos. was founded in 1979 by Adam and Sybil Strum. Over the last 40-plus years, the company established two divisions: Wine Enthusiast Commerce and Wine Enthusiast Media.

On the commerce side, Wine Enthusiast catalog provides custom wine-lifestyle products, reaching millions of consumers globally via direct mail, an e-commerce site, and a business-to-business division.

On the media side, Wine Enthusiast magazine is an award-winning print publication and online resource that showcases wine news, food trends, and more than 25,000 ratings and reviews annually. Every wine rating is conducted on the 100-point scale and tasted blind by a team of reviewers with years of experience and certifications.

The fully relaunched website uses a Headless Commerce solution, including WordPress and Magento, to bring content and commerce together in one WineEnthusiast.com destination. On the new site, Wine Enthusiast’s audience will find a simpler, more seamless design and experience. For example, when a visitor comes to the site looking for recommendations on which bottles to try next, they will now be able to search within Wine Enthusiast’s expansive database of thousands of ratings and reviews using user-friendly quizzes that help surface reviews by price, score, region and more.

The site will also have links readily available for the visitor to learn more about the region where the wines are produced, read about trends related to those wines, and browse options for storing the bottles. The goal of the website is to provide the tools needed to enjoy the wine lifestyle to its fullest. All of Wine Enthusiast’s content remains FREE to readers with no barriers to accessing the company’s expertise.

I actually like the new site, although I'm not sure how I would classify it.  Looking at the page for Louis Roederer 2014 Crystal Brut Champagne, for instance, it has all the features you'd expect a wine merchant to offer – the ability to order, ratings and reviews, and the ability to select the number of bottles and cases one wants to buy.  Click "Add to Cart" and you're done.

Is WineEnthusiast.com a DtC retailer?  It partners with WineExpress.com for the wines it offers. It sells other items itself – wine coolers, wine racks, plates, glassware, etc.  At the same time, it has magazine-like feature articles, wine-related, to be sure, but not obvious sales pieces.  For instance, when we checked (6/21) there was a big article, "For Golden Knights Owner Bill Foley, Wine and Hockey Are Both Team Sports."  And articles that are a bit more sales oriented, but only a bit: "The Best Virginia Wineries to Visit Right Now, According to Industry Insiders."  

There are cocktail recipes ("Death in the Afternoon, Ernest Hemingway's Two-Ingredient Cocktail') and industry news ("The E.U. Is Adding Nutrition Info to Wine Labels.  Is the U.S. Next?").

I'm enough of an old-fashioned traditional journalist that it bothers me when I see a publication selling products itself as vs. carrying advertisements for other peoples' products.  

But I'm not sure the reader particularly cares, at least as WineEnthusiast.com is doing it.  Their product sales aren't at all subtle, and I don't think readers will be misled.  In any event, what's the difference between a publication selling goods itself and carrying advertisements so others can sell goods?  

And in this era when companies are producing their own media, perhaps it is just that media companies should also start selling products.