A good wine can remain part of a treasured memory long after the bottle’s finished. A bottle of trebbiano in the sun on a Tuscan holiday, popping the cork on a vintage champagne to celebrate a significant birthday, or even just a cracking selection with a great restaurant meal – these memories stick with us. So it’s natural that you might want to repeat the experience and grab another bottle. But with just a name, picture or even only a description of the label, it’s not always that easy.

Wine retailer Jagdev Singh has started TextWine to solve that problem. The idea is that users sign up and text or direct message Singh a photo or description of a wine they’re looking for and he’ll find and deliver it. The service is $10 to join, which is taken off the first order. New members can expect a text or call from Singh soon after to establish tastes and desires. Your credit card is on file so there’s no online shopping cart. You text, he replies, you agree on a price and the wine comes to your door. And shipping is free.

TextWine doesn’t just facilitate the buying of expensive or obscure wines. The idea is to provide convenience and a type of personal service that is often lost with online shopping.

“We can do the high end, but it’s not about that. It’s just about mobile technology, no [online] shopping carts,” Singh says. “People do it when they’re out for dinner with their mates. They take a photo and I get back to them in five minutes with a price.” Each wine arrives with a handwritten note on a swing tag – a small token designed to reinforce the personal experience.

Singh pulls up a Facebook message a customer has sent through. It’s a request for six bottles of pinot noir and two bottles of “sticky” (dessert wine). Singh has a pretty good idea of what the customer wants based on their previous purchases, but he gives them a call to discuss the finer points of selection anyway. He shoots a message back, telling the customer they’ll be receiving the bottles within two hours.

Singh picked up the beginnings of his wine knowledge over seven years working front of house at Melbourne Spanish restaurant MoVida. His other wine venture, The Local Drop, is a small warehouse with a compact but broad selection of local and international wines bought direct from vineyards, private cellars, wholesalers and importers. He draws on this supply when selecting bottles for clients, but if you’re back from a holiday, Singh’s network of contacts means he can find that special wine from overseas too.

He brings up another message from August 9 about a wine a customer had in Bordeaux in the south-west of France. No one in Australia had it and it didn’t even get distributed here. But Singh knew a guy in the UK who could get hold of it. In three weeks he had it in Australia.

“For a lot of them [customers] it’s the memory. She was on her honeymoon,” Singh says.


This article first appeared on Broadsheet on October 3, 2019. Some details may have changed since publication.