Waitrose has launched a specialist wine e-commerce site called Waitrose Cellar.

The site will sell all the supermarket’s 1,200 wines as well as an exclusive online offer from 20-150 wines, including small parcels and a specialist offer from the south of France and the Languedoc.

Waitrose Cellar buyer Xenia Irwin MW told OLN: “We would like to be seen as one of the key players both in terms of volume and quality of range.”

The supermarket has been selling wine online, mainly as part of its grocery delivery service, but volumes were only equivalent to roughly three stores’ wine sales.

“What should happen is that this will see exponential growth – we have big targets,” said Irwin.

The site has been in development for over a year and aims to engage with consumers and tie in with the way they shop better than its competitors.

It features plenty of information from buyers, articles about regions, grapes varieties, trends and wines of interest, and links to food recommendations, as well as an array of mixed and pick-and-mix cases, including a seasonal “foodie” taste of wines picked to go particularly well with food, with a leaflet of matching recipes created by Waitrose cookery school manager Gordon McDermott.

Irwin admitted the chain was entering a crowded market, but said: “We can hold our head up against anyone.

“Two things will make us stand out – the ability through technology of the site and willingness to engage with consumers directly on their terms, and the bravery of the range, the eclectic breadth, and the willingness to explore – and that is how we expect to engage consumers into exploration.”