What happens when you cross a wine geek with a tech geek, then turn them loose on Twitter? You get wine tasting across time zones and even continents, lots of passionate oenophiles, and happy winemakers. It's called Twitter Taste Live and it's a place where the online community can purchase, taste and discuss wines (and sometimes beer) from their own homes.
Twitter Taste Live (#TTL) is the less-than-a-year-old brainchild of Craig Drollett and Chris Gillis, (self-identified wine geek and tech geek, respectively). Their first event was a collaboration with Barcelona-based wine blog CataVino, and Charlotte, N.C. Wine importer, European Cellars--owner and wine expert Eric Solomon was the featured guest, and a half dozen Spanish wines were tasted--and tweeted.
The event affirmatively answered the question of whether or not it was possible to get strangers in different time zones to taste the same wines at the same time and have a conversation about it.
Drollett and Gillis set about developing their own custom interface and in April of this year, their current site was launched. The site scrolls a real-time feed--so you see just the tweets related to the tasting. TTL facilitates a two-sided conversation between the presenters, usually the winemaker, a wine expert, etc. and the "audience," or tasters. Tasters can talk directly to the winemaker, ask questions and get answers. They can also have a spirited conversation with other wine lovers from all over the globe.
A recent TTL event, featured Wine and Spirit Magazine 2008 Winery of the Year, St. Supery, and included four St. Supery offerings, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, 2006 Virtu--one of the winery's blends of classic Bordeaux varietals, 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2008 Moscato. Winemaker Michael Scholz from St. Supery and winery Chef, Ron Barber were some of the presenters for the tasting, and TTL estimates about 150 twitterers posting over 750 tweets in a little less than two hours. And that means something like 100,000 people, who weren't even part of the event, saw tweets about St. Supery. According to Drollett, that makes St. Supery the hands-down winner for the winery with the strongest Twitter presence. Drollett also says that every winery that's had a TTL event has been "thrilled with the response," and all of them want to do more.
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You're not alone if you can't quite imagine what it's like to have a wine tasting with your computer. Drollett suggests that for users to have the best experience, they shouldn't sit alone in the basement in front of a laptop, but instead, make it actually social. Buy the wines, make a few things to pair with them, invite a few friends, (the St. Supery site has recipes created to be paired with various wines if you're looking for ideas) and use the tweets as a jumping-off point for your own conversations. Tasting via Twitter may not replace the more traditional wine tasting, but it is a fun twist.
The next Twitter Taste LIve event, on August 6, 2009, features Robert Oatley Vineyard wines.