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Making Sense of "Wine 2.0" (Power to the People!)

Wine 2.0

Whenever I'm asked about Wine 2.0, the conversation usually goes something like this:

"Hey Dude - what exactly is Wine 2.0 anyways? Is that, like, some future technology where wine will get instantly zapped into my glass, like on Star Trek? 'Cause that would, like, seriously rule."

Uh... not quite. I've found this a confusing topic as well, and I'm even a tech-savvy nerd-type. After all, it's a bit of an amorphous term, but even the casual wine geek will have noticed the term cropping up on the web. It must be important if everyone's talkin' about it, right? Some wine blogs even have their own sections devoted to it.

So what is this Wine 2.0 stuff all about?...

Wine 2.0 is basically just the concepts of Web 2.0 applied to the world of wine. And it's starting to turn that world on its head (er, cork)!

"Power To The People - Right On!"
Wine 2.0 might best be described as "Power to the People."

Web 2.0 is about the migration of publishing and social network out of the hands of a (relatively) few controlled powers and into the hands of ordinary folks. Think about what blogs, social networking websites (like MySpace), and instant communication /chat tools (like Twitter) have done in recent years: they've opened up the world of publishing to literally millions upon millions of people, all sharing ideas, offering opinions, and influencing each other's decisions.

What we are now seeing in the wine world is that wine reviews, and wine topics in general, are no longer just the territory of a few elite publishers of books, magazines and websites. They are also now part of a huge global community of hundreds of people, interacting in a very big online wine conversation.

Another way to look at it is that any talentless dimwit with a PC, an Internet connection, and an under-developed wine palate can set up an opinionated blog, MySpace page, twitter account, on-line affiliate store, merchandising page, and write & sell media like books online in practically no time at all.

Uh... wait a minute... on second thought, ignore that last paragraph!!!

Anyway, the Wine 2.0 phenomenon is starting to impact winemakers, who are realizing the power shift that is taking place (and are starting to send wines to bloggers for reviews, for example). You can contribute to this influential conversation - by blogging, "twittering," and generally just visiting and commenting on wine websites that you enjoy. That's the good news.

The bad news? Wine 2.0 is confusing as hell and the online marketplace is as fragmented as a busted wine bottle. Every marketer and their sister wants in on Wine 2.0 and its huge potential customer base; and because social networking translates into big money, you will find that nearly every Wine 2.0 website has some requirement for you to create an account so that you can share wine reviews with friends.

Kind of like MySpace or Facebook, only drunker.

The trouble is that everyone wants to be the Facebook of Wine 2.0, so all of these websites have their own community. And they don't talk to the other communities. For example: You wanna buy wine online? There's Snooth, WineQ (my personal fave, since it operates a bit like Netflix), and WineZap. Wanna share some wine reviews? Well, you'll need to pick from about a dozen websites, including CellarTracker, Cork'd, Wineography, Vino, GrapeFoot, Wine Commune, OpenBottles, BottleTalk, Vinorati, Adegga... are you going insane yet?

Perhaps someday, someone will smarten up and just create a Facebook widget application that interfaces to one of the better wine sales websites and - voilĂ  - you've got your social networking and your wine sales without having to exhaust the poor wine consumer with dozens of different online Wine 2.0 communities.

OK, I gotta go call one of the big wigs at WineQ and offer them my idea for $10K...

In the spirit of all things Wine 2.0-ish, I've opened up a second Twitter feed that will feature my "mini" wine reviews (the reviews are mini - the wines are normal size). Stop by and Twitter me up!

Cheers!

9 comments:

el jefe said...

Hi Dude - I've started using quotes from wine reviews found on blogs and on social web sites for our wine pages on twistedoak.com. The cool thing about using online reviews is that you can directly follow the link back to the source to verify they exist, and to also evaluate whether that reviewer shares your tastes.

And by the way, last I looked the terms of use at Facebook prohibited the advertising of any alcoholic beverages, which is essentially what your cool widget would be doing. Sorry.

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Thanks for the comment.

I can see that as a major benefit for winemakers - and you can also potentially tap into the friend/community of the reviewer if there is a social networking aspect to the site.

And I suppose now my post proves that I'm too old of a fart to use Facebook! :-P

winehiker said...

Dude, I would guess that wineries aren't quite clamoring for blogger input just yet, even though El Jefe - visionary that he is - is recognizing the potential. But our day will come!

Meanwhile, that "future technology where wine will get instantly zapped into my glass" will be associated more with Wine 374.0 at a time when insects will rule the earth and only fruit flies will drink wine.

Um, wait a minute - they already are!

Marshall from WineQ said...

Hey Joe, Thanks for the mention. Sorry to break it to you, but a facebook app is already in the works! It will be released shortly after our major website update in the next week or so. I appreciate you thinking of us, though. :)

I want to add that simply integrating a wine search engine with Facebook isn't a sure path to success, neither for the site nor the consumer. Many online wine buyers are frustrated by having to patronize several different wine retailers, particularly because of expensive shipping and the unique shipping rules of each one (6 bottle minimum orders, direct-from-winery shippers offer only one winery per shipment, free shipping only with purchase of a whole case, etc.) By contrast, WineQ offers the convenience of automated, recurring wine shipments with free shipping on $35 orders, a minimum that's accessible to nearly everyone.

One other factor that will prevent wine-buying from reaching critical mass with Facebook is widespread availability of wines. With regards to which states they ship to, retailers are all over the map (no pun intended). This is also the case for direct-from-winery shipments, but this will change in time as more states become lax in their direct-shipping laws and more wineries get on board.

Until then, the Dude will have to abide. ;-)

Marshall Sontag,
WineQ CEO

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Thanks, Marshall!

"Sorry to break it to you, but a facebook app is already in the works!"

Awww, man... always a bridesmaid...

"this will change in time as more states become lax in their direct-shipping laws"

Yeah, well... good luck with that one. ;-) Check out my last post on that topic (Wine Communism) - we gotta fight the power!!! As it stands, I live in PA so I'm screwed. I just get to watch from the sidelines while you all have fun getting great wines sent right to your door and chatting about your great experiences. While I sit in the dark corner of the wine shipping world... plotting my vengance... er, sorry, just in a bad mood, I think I need a cup of coffee...

By the way, Big Lebowski qotes are always appreciated (I knew there was a reason I liked you guys!).

WineMad said...

I cobbled up a wine reviews aggregator using Yahoo Pipes and a search engine that is pretty much limited to wine reviews using Google's Custom Search engine, try it at winemad.net.

PS: I tried adding in your Twitter mini reviews but Yahoo Pipes seems to dislike Twitter's atom format, oh well...

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

Thanks, Winemad! I checked out the site and it appears to me like the feed is appearing?

Anyway, love the idea of your site and will link to yer blog.

Cheers!

WineMad said...

Hi Joe, Thanks for the link.

After I posted the comment I found the RSS feed for your twitter posts so I added that, very cool, keep twittering wine reviews, then go out and achieve, anyway! (Is this a--what day is this?)

Joe Roberts, CSW said...

And proud we are of all of them.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.

Thanks - and as always, Lebowski quotes are most appreciated. Keep 'em comin', people!