A few days ago, I installed Answer Tips on this blog. I’ve been playing with it, but hadn’t yet announced it. However, Joel over at Vivi’s was so dang excited, I thought I’d join the announcement party. So now you know: double-click any word in this blog (that’s not a hyperlink) and a wonderful, AJAXxy-looking pop-up window appears, telling you everything you wanted to know about the word.
I could go on, but I’ll save it for my other blog, on what sort of impact this can have on corporate education. Instead, I’ll just mention that on a wine blog, where we often toss around words like tannic and terroir, it’s a great little helper guide for those unfamiliar with the terms.
I try to stay on top of the latest wine technology. A trend I’ve noticed lately is the ability to go to your mobile, while in a wine store, and check on wine prices. This is a great idea but thus far, clumsy in execution. There is WineZap, which allows you to text the wine information and recieve local pricing in return. However, I found the return text/email to be slow (at times it took over 24 hours, and by that time I’m out of the wine shop) and their database to be small, but growing.
Similar in idea, we now have Global Wine Stocks. Today they announced a mobile version of their online wine search service. I haven’t yet played with the mobile version, but I did try my hand at the full-size, online version.
I searched for two different Bordeauxs in my cellar, and it turned up nothing in either Ohio or Kentucky. Since I purchased these in Ohio and Kentucky, that didn’t quite work for me. Giving up, I simply typed in Yellow Tail and searched for merchants in either state. It turned up one merchant in Ohio and no merchants in Kentucky. Ohio is a big state. The merchant was several hundred miles away from me.
I believe that WineZap’s database is directly related to the WineZap community, but I’m unfamiliar with how Global Wine Stock completes their information. I suspect they sell the opportunity to be listed in their search engine to wine merchants, but I’m not positive.
I love the idea of these mobile wine services. I think they’re on the
right track. However, I also believe they need to fatten their
databases before going live in order to attract, and retain, users. But you’ve got to start somewhere, right?
Haven’t we all tried to make our own wine in our basement? Usually, it’s a hit or miss type of thing. No need for expertise or even a vineyard with the WinePod. All you need is a computer and an electrical outlet.
The Provina WinePod integrates a wine press and fermentation unit into a 4 foot tall steel container that will contain your in-house wine for 6 months. One batch of wine can fill up to 60 bottles. It’s a novel new way of making your own wine, and highly technical.
The WinePod not only includes the stainless steel structure, but a Dashboard and software that interact with the WinePod, letting you monitor your wine. It also includes membership in a "community" of WinePod owners (winemakers like yourself) so that you can pool knowledge. Provina offers access to Napa and Sonoma grapes, destemmed and quick frozen, so that you can make Napa and Sonoma wines all year long (grapes not included in the price).
This is a nifty concept really, combining age-old processes with new technology and taking in-home winemaking to the next level. I’d love to try it. Next time I have $3,499 sitting around, I just might.
The Good Grape posted the other day about WineZap Mobile, which is a great little find. WineZap Mobile begins to solve a problem that Kevin and I encounter quite often. We are unknowingly paying too much for our wine.
Quite often I’ll be standing in the Cork & Bottle down the street. I know, as it’s happened many times, that they mark up their wines a little too much. Usually I’ll get home, enter the wine into CellarTracker, and discover that the average price for the wine is around $5 less than what I paid. It doesn’t matter. I’ll get seduced by the wine on the shelf or at the tasting and I keep buying. I am the ultimate definition of an impulse buyer (this also extends to shoes).
Usually I can halt an impulse buy with a dose of reality. WineZap provides that little bit of reality I need. All you need to do is just text the name and vintage of the wine to firstname.lastname@example.org. It will text or email you back with the lowest/highest/average prices for that wine. If you add your zip code, it will let you know where to buy it.
I tried this with the Woop Woop Shiraz yesterday and recieved this:
No matching local retailers found.
The good news is that while I paid above the average, I paid below the high.
This is a nifty, free service. I can now picture myself asking the smug little wine guy at the Cork and Bottle why his price is so much above the national average. Maybe this is the first step in getting prices to actually make sense.
I only have two suggestions for improvement. The WineZap database doesn’t yet seem to be overly large. We often pick up Hangtime as an easy to drink Pinot Noir. Hangtime is not in their database. Neither is Cloudline, an Oregon Pinot I recently discovered. My other issue? They seem to have no information on stores in my area. These are just issues with expanding their database and that will, hopefully, come with time.
CellarTracker is the grand-daddy of them all. It easily exports your cellar into an incredibly detailed Excel spreadsheet. The question is, can any of the digital wine cellars import that spreadsheet into their database? Well, not so far. However, WineLog.net asked me to forward them the spreadsheet and they would see what they could do. It’s the best response I’ve had yet.
WineLog has a Web 2.0-ish interface. It’s clean and easy to use. It is missing the ability to generate reports and any sort of plausible help file or forum. They do have a responsive blog and the ability to generate RSS feeds, tags, and tag clouds. They are also doing pretty well at generating a community.
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