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Wine Talk with Alice Swift

Wine + AI (Artificial Intelligence) = A different kind of sommelier?

Last month, I decided to focus on technology in the wine industry, and wrote about “no touch vineyard practices,” touching upon some technology innovations that are streamlining the viticulture industry. Curious to see what other new innovations have sprung up since my last indepth-research into wine technology a few years ago, I decided to do a little digging. 

So, here’s a question for you – What does a sommelier and a streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Video have in common? Believe it or not, it’s more than just the wine documentaries on the streaming service. Many of you probably have a subscription to some type of  video or music streaming service, like Netflix, Amazon Video, Pandora, Spotify, etc. With these services, you can rate and/or rank the items based on your preferences. 

As the streaming service starts to learn your tastes, it begins to recommend other songs/videos based on your similarly liked items. These services “read your mind” by collecting and analyzing your data. Every song, album, video, movie, TV show, etc., the companies are looking at your individual selections and analyzing your behaviors in order make educated guesses on what else you might like. I’ve see other instances of analytics in use, such as digital advertisements online that strategically show up based on my shopping habits, or receiving promotions from hotel/F&B establishments based on my guest profile. 

With all this data available for companies to analyze, should we really be surprised that analytics and artificial intelligence has branched into the wine world? As of several years ago, there have been numerous app developers who have developed mobile applications that compile tasting notes and ratings of users based on their inputs. However, these applications are based on other user preferences, not the individual’s own preferences. 

Enter Wine Ring, a mobile application that makes recommendations based on your own personal preferences! The app was launched in August of 2014, and has had a number of articles and press releases since then, including The Washington Post, CNBC and LA Times. Founders Pam Dillon and Andrew Sussman also worked with sommeliers, like Sally Mohr MS, Sheri Morano MW and Amy Christine MW, amongst many others. 

According to the Wine Ring website, “We build a Preference Profile™ for you and update it every time you rate a wine. The more wines you rate, the better your profile will be.” So, like the other streaming services, the more you consume, the better the system will get to know you, starting with as few as 12 ratings. You can start building your Preference Profile by adding wines that you’ve had before and “love.” You can rate wines with four ratings: love, like, so-so-, or dislike, and your profile is built solely on your own ratings. 

If a wine does not exist in the system yet, you can add it by taking a photo of the label and inputting the vintage. The wine experts of Wine Ring work to taste numerous wines in order to input the proper descriptors in for each wine, allowing for the proper algorithms to work. The wine will then be added to the system and will be updated in your Preference Profile.  

You might be wondering, how much does this Wine Ring app cost? Why, it is free as of now! Wine Ring’s business model generates profit from extended services such as technology licensing, and from selling its cumulated data to industry professionals. 

The mobile application is available in the iOS App Store as well as the Android Play Store. While an app certainly cannot replace the years of training a sommerlier goes through, it’s great to have this technology alternative for when a sommelier is not around to help you with your wine-purchasing decisions. 

Join the Wine Ring community and test our this app that gets to know you and your preferences as if you were a friend! For more information, go to https://www.winering.com 

Until next month, Cheers~!

Alice

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