As life continues to return to some degree of normalcy, one thing that’s become clear is that the pandemic changed the way many companies do business. With people spending more time at home, new business models were born to serve consumers.

One local company that emerged during the pandemic is Mirabelle Selects, a service that offers boutique wine delivery in Rhode Island and several other states. The business began in 2020 with online tastings facilitated by wine experts. That led to the idea of a home delivery service.

 Here’s how it works: You sign up at the website, and each month, a box of three bottles of wine from family producers in France and Spain arrives at your doorstep, along with tasting notes and pairing suggestions.  

“Most of our wines are organic or biodynamic, which is where the trend is going,” explained Mirabelle founder Matthew Chausse. “They are also family-owned and don’t produce a lot of wine.”

Chausse’s family has origins in Voges, a wine-growing region in eastern France. He explained how the business evolved during the pandemic.

“We started this during the pandemic as a way to get people to reconnect by doing virtual wine tastings. We would host monthly tastings, whether it was a birthday party, or friends who hadn’t seen each other for a while.

“The way it worked is they would order three bottles of wine and we would have a virtual tasting partner, someone like a wine influencer. They would walk them through the three different wines, where they’re from, and give them the basics to select wine – how to go into a wine store without feeling overwhelmed. It empowers the consumer to have a bit more sense of what to buy and not have to spend $35 to have something that’s good. That was kind of the beginning of it, said Chausse.”

“That led to people wanting to get these unique, hard-to-get wines at an affordable price monthly” he continued. “It started out as gifts, but then people wanted to include their friends and family and that’s kind of where this all kicked off from.”

Readers may be aware that it is illegal to ship wine to individual customers in Rhode Island from out of state. However, in-state delivery is permitted. Mirabelle is based in RI, so they are able to provide wine locally.

“We’ve got retail partners lined up around the country. You can ship out of Rhode Island to 46 states. We partnered up with Point Wine and Spirits, they coordinate drop-offs and shipments” in Rhode Island Chausse explained. “What’s great about it locally is that it gets dropped off the next day or whenever it’s convenient. It’s also cheaper locally because you don’t have to deal with shipping prices, the cost of shipping is rising so fast. So it’s definitely an added value for people in Rhode Island.”

Chausse shared a little more about what led to him starting the business.

“I’m half French, I grew up with people kind of gathering and eating and drinking and talking. During the pandemic, there was kind of a void that was going on. I had heard about virtual wine tastings, and I thought, we’ve got access to this whole portfolio of specialty wines, let’s try to find some influencers, brand ambassadors, who would be willing to do the virtual wine tastings. We reached out and learned that some of them had done tastings in person but never on a zoom platform.”

“We used that as our platform to bring people into subscribing. Now, we pre-select the wines every six months by theme. At the end of the year, we offer mixed boxes for the holidays.”

Moving forward, expect to hear about in-person tasting and other events.

“The plan going forward is to take the virtual platform and do it in person once the weather is nicer. We’re looking to do something around Mother’s Day, and also in the summer for some in-person tastings outdoors. Maybe partner up locally with an oyster farm or a chef and do a larger event. We’re looking to do this in Rhode Island and also up in Stowe, Vermont,” explained Chausse.

For more on Mirabelle wines, visit their website here.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music and more for What'sUpNewp, Providence Monthly, SO RI, and The Bay. He DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse" Tuesday nights, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM.