Wine businesses have always been the most traditional of businesses. After centuries of viticulture, we still use grapes, and we still grow them on trellis, train them and prune them as winemakers of yore did. Lately (which in the slow-moving world of wine means decades), new world winemakers have really started coming into their own, confidently adapting new tools and practices that increase yields and improve flavours, including using massive steel tanks with temperature control, artificial tannin powder, and most gallingly of all, selling wines outside of the hermetic, intimidating confines of a dedicated wine store on online wine stores.
E-commerce is of course nothing new, but wine stores in general have had a terrible time making the transition online. Massive collections are dumped into online catalogues with little consideration of how to organize them or present them to the average uninspired wine consumer. In the past year or so, even this has changed tremendously. Companies like drync, vivino, & wine-family (pragmatically based in co-working spaces like this one) are just a few of the next wave of wine companies going online that promise to make the process of choosing wine and appreciating wine more accessible and less intimidating than an outraged maitre’d tut-tutting your appalling wine taste.
These online stores are not only providing tasting notes and food pairing recommendations, all beautifully worded and expertly supplemented with photos, but also allow logged-in users to give their own 2 cents on the wines that they have drank, giving prospective buyers more than just the resident sommelier’s opinion to go on. Companies like vivino push this idea to its very limits, allowing users to create wine reviews complete with photos of products that aren’t even on the website’s database. After all, it is practically impossible for any single company to keep track of all the wines that are produced year after year, much less rank and review them reliably. Thus, crowdsourcing opinion is a supremely wise decision.
The consequence of all this crowdsourcing and democratisation of the sommelier’s art, is that wine appreciation becomes much more accessible. An old problem for wines made from grapes penetrating new cultures is that they were previously not part of the local culture and that it requires experts like sommeliers a long time to educate the dining crowd to appreciate and consume more wine. With the ready availability of knowledge online, and the ability for people to experiment in the comfort of their own homes away from the embarrassment of getting it wrong in a restaurant, we can expect more people to pick up wine drinking.
All this promise of a bright future for wine can be attributed strongly to the proliferation of wine knowledge online and how deeply the internet has become a part of our everyday lives. There is no corner of the wine business that is exempt from the change wrought by the internet, but that is not a problem but rather an accomplishment to toast to.