The wine industry may conjure up images of sun-kissed vineyards, fading labels on vintage bottles and the squashing of plump red and green colored grapes, but it is as open to technological innovation as any other industry. In fact, the fragility of wine as a product and its susceptibility to fraud make opportunities for tech disruption even more bountiful.
The great drawback of being a wine collector is that actually opening or drinking any of your collection immediately destroys the value. Imagine having a luxury car that you can never drive or artwork you can never unveil. This also causes a predicament for appraisers who cannot easily determine whether the vintage bottle of wine before them is the real deal or not.
Coravin have developed a technology that allows access to wine without ruining the entire bottle, through a process of extraction that prevents any oxygen entering. A needle enters the cork, pressurizes the bottle with inert Argon and allows the cork to automatically reseal afterwards. You can extract a glass of wine for pleasure or to confirm its authenticity and still maintain the quality of the rest.
Storing wine correctly is the most important thing a collector can do to ensure the health and value of their wine is not diminished. Seattle-based Phenol55 offer collectors the opportunity to be in touch with their collection even when it’s stored far away from home. Their custom app allows users to track each individual bottle complete with photos and to request particular bottles to be delivered or made available for collection.
Their cellar, of course, also meets the strict temperature and security requirements needed for storing fine wine, but you may wonder if the satisfaction of owning such an expensive wine collection is lost by not being able to peruse their bottles at will. It is safe to say though that for serious collectors the expense, space and security hassles of storing wine yourself necessitate these kinds of services. The access offered by new technologies changing wine help to bridge that gap.
Wine Social Media
All companies now have the opportunity to see instant and global feedback on their product, wine is no different and vineyards, wineries and retailers now have the means to measure that response. VinTank use an algorithm to measure criticism and enthusiasm for wine across the social media sphere, from forum and Facebook comments to Instagram photos and Foursquare check-ins at the relevant location.
The social media monitoring sector is already well catered for, but this kind of vertical specialization has potential to grow as it can better cope with the jargon and niches that are specific to an industry like wine.
The thought of a machine dispensing wine like the soda fountain at your local Subway would probably horrify sommeliers across the world, but new machines like those offered by Napa Technology are becoming more and more commonplace. There are obvious benefits such as the reduced cost associated with automation, the reduction in spillage and wastage that comes with human error and less chance of contamination.
It also opens up the world of wine to customers who are potentially put off by the elitist reputation or confusing terminology. Using an LCD screen to order a glass of wine, that also shows you a variety of information about the grape, year and price, is far less off-putting than a wine waiter, no matter how helpful they are.