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 - voilà - 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!