What's Missing From the Wine Experience

I just read on Springwise about a new service from the Netherlands that offers “wine by numbers.”

These are 94 wines which feature user-generated, personalized descriptions. For example, you wouldn’t buy a Sauvignon Blanc from Napa because you appreciate a certain stony grapefruit taste, or what have you, but you’d buy #27 because you’ve identified it with those same characteristics and decided that you like it.

That’s all good except it leaves out a few important reasons people buy wine. One of those reasons is the wine’s story. Anyone working at a winery in northern California knows that when someone walks onto their vineyard, they have an opportunity to make a customer for life. That’s because the story of where and how the wine was made is important. It offers a connection to the fickle and fleeting nature of the wine itself, as well as to those who produced it. Also, there’s nothing appealing about drinking #56 or whatever. You want to use your own cognitive style to figure out which wine to buy. That and numbered wine seems anathema to the whole wine experience.

To anyone who cares at all, it’d be like naming your children Number One, Number Two, and so on.

However, despite all this, I think this company is on to something. Here’s what I propose: what if we created a database of user-generated wine notes and then used AI to score wines that haven’t been notated?

For instance, a user could enter notes on three or four wines - wines the user liked, didn’t like, and why - and the system would then extrapolate the user’s potential feelings about other wines the user never encountered. It’d be as if Robert Parker knew you personally.

You could walk into a wine shop and spot a potential buy, then flip open your phone and enter the name of the wine into an app. The traditional review could pop up next to our recommendation based on what you, yourself, like and don’t like - along with nuanced notes using your own descriptive words. The more you use it, the better the system gets at making recommendations.

The second part of the idea - and all good ideas have second parts - is the network effect. In this use-case you stop by a wine shop on your way to a party. You think, what would Sally like me to bring over? Now you’d know.

What do you think?