Introducing Wanderlust Wine - London's first wine on demand service

There aren't many things better than relaxing with a bottle of wine after a long day. Or sometimes after a lazy day. However, getting a great bottle is not easy. First, there's the issue of finding the wine you love. And then there's the issue of getting that wine to your doorstep. Well, this might no longer be a problem if the plans of London-based wine merchants, Wanderlust Wine comes to fruition.

Wanderlust Wine has just launched a Wine on Demand, a new online service that delivers wine to Londoners within the hour - the first of it's kind in London. The aim is to offer wine lovers the flexibility to order quality wines, with delivery to your door within an hour of ordering

Founder, Richard Ellison has high hope for the new service and we caught up with him at the launch of Wine on Demand to talk about why he left banking to start Wanderlust Wine, what makes hs service different from buying wine on the high street and which country has the most underrated wine

Wanderlust Wines wine on demand

What was your main reason for quitting banking to start Wanderlust Wine?

I think the question might be why did I get into banking in the first place, than why did I get out.

I sort of fell into banking but my degree was in food and wine technology at Reading University. I also did a year working for Unilever and hated it. That was what originally pushed me out of the industry into something else which turned out to be banking.

I got a job at Barclays and my job for the last 11 years was lending money to small businesses to help them grow. In a way, it was something like a practical MBA. I really loved it and wasn’t looking to leave but after returning to London after working in New York for sometime, I was bored and decided to enrolled in wine school for a bit of fun.They take you through all the basics - how to taste, what to taste etc - and I had to learn how to identify wines by smell in the same way you would identify a roast dinner by smell. That’s where I got the idea for Wanderlust, and six months later, I quit my job and went travelling around the world for four months to find vineyards.

Wanderlust Wines wine on demand Richard Ellison

What makes Wanderlust Wine different from just buying your wine on the high street or any of the other delivery brands?

The wine industry is really changing. The market is split between supermarket wine, large wine companies like Virgin and Majestic and the little independent stores that sell loads of different things (we sell into those). Or you can go directly to merchants like Wanderlust that import specialist stuff but we’re online only.

What makes us different is that everything we import is exclusive. We also don’t do mass made wine and all our wines are sustainable - which means the grapes aren’t sprayed with chemicals or made with chemicals. It’s basically organically produced or better (organically farmed or biodynamic) which means the wine is healthier for you. The same way you don’t want your fruit and vegetables to be sprayed with chemicals, it’s the same principle with grapes and wine. If you’re going to tip something down your neck, it shouldn’t be full of chemicals.

You can now also get wine within the hour and I think we’re the first online service to do that. Of course you can order wine from the likes of Deliveroo and UberEats but you’ll have to pay the commision (these guys take a 35-40 per cent cut of the revenue of the order) which makes it difficult to get good quality wine at decent prices. No one is going to take a loss to sell their wine. The only other merchant doing what we do is a wine bar in Covent Garden (10 Cases) but you have to pay wine bar prices, plus delivery.

How can a novice go about choosing the best wine for them?

The first thing is that you’re never going to learn it all. You’ll just have to keep trying different wines to see what is out there. Secondly, your opinion matters. If I put a plate of food in front of you and you didn’t like it, you’d have no qualms to say “I don’t like that because it’s too salty”. For some reason, people don’t do that with wine. They feel it’s a bit snobbish but it’s not. Personal opinion is very important and that’s why some people like Malbecs and others like Pinot Noirs.

I’ve learnt the most by exploring from what I know. So if you like Malbec, which is a heavy, full-bodied grape, don’t then go and try the lightest wine possible and think you’re going to like it because that would be such a jump, in stylistic terms. You can also explore region-wise. For example, if you make Malbec in South America, you can’t make Pinot Noir there. So if you stick to a region of a country, you can try different wines from there and they’ll generally be the same style of wine.

You also can’t learn without drinking a bit but that must be done responsibly. You won’t learn anything from tipping a bottle of Malbec, a bottle of Pinot Noir and a bottle of Cabernet down your neck. Having a sip and actually thinking about it, you will. So if you have wine-loving friends, get together with them and talk about it. Wine clubs are also great as you get a choice and a mixture of wines to try, plus get to go down a track that you might not have gone. It’s like that guy we all know that has the same Banana Republic jumper in every colour because it’s safe. Sometimes you need someone to tell you to try something else on - to take you out of your comfort zone - and wine is similar. 

Wanderlust Wines wine on demand

What basic mistakes should readers avoid when choosing their wine?

One good place to start is with understanding land prices and the way it influences the price of wine. So if you go to California, you can’t buy wine that costs £10 and expect it to be good because the land costs £10 million (or something like that) and they need to make a return on it. So if it looks too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Basically, if you spend £10 in Bordeaux, it won’t be good but if you spend £10 in Romania, it will be good.

Another thing is to beware of supermarket games. If it says 50 per cent off, it’s not true. What happens is that supermarkets mark up their wines by 50 per cent and then they do a 50 per cent sale. You can be sure that they are not taking a 50 per cent hit to be nice to you.

Use the tools around you to get the best deal. There are apps like Corkscrew and Vivino that allow you to try what a wine is like before you buy it. You scan the label and it tells you how many stars you get from ratings by thousands of people from around the world. If you get two wines side by side and one gets three stars while the other gets four, you know which one to get. Deciding on wine can be very complicated but using apps can make that task easy.

What country has the most underrated wine?

There are lots of great wines from across the world and people know a lot about these regions and their wines. If I mention New Zealand or South Africa, everyone knows about it. But one country I went to recently and thought “wow” was Hungary.

Like most people, I always drink the local wine when I’m out of the country and I was blown away by how good the wines were over there. Hardly any of them were imported here either so I had the pick of the bunch. If you go to America and find great wines, more often than not they are already here. That’s a good sign of wines being underrated - It’s great quality but there’s just not a lot of it here.

What should Londoners expect from Wanderlust Wine?

Londoners should expect wine on demand and the pleasure of not having to get off their couch to get great wine. We hope to connect drinkers to the wine producers and the vineyards. You also get to meet them at tastings and hear their stories. It’s really about the access and transparency. We find great producers that make great wine and bring them here to London, my city, in a way that no one has ever done before.

The hard bit is getting people to know about us. There’s a clear demand and everyone loves what we do and it’s now just a matter of shouting about it to make people more aware like “come and try our wine, it’s really good and better value than everywhere else.

Check out for more information on Wanderlust Wine and the new Wine on Demand service 

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