“How do you taste wine online?” “Is it just me or am I the only one who doesn’t get mass twitter wine tastings?” These are a few of the questions, I’ve heard related to the “taste and tweet” phenomenon. What is the benefit to the mass twitter fury, chatter, and tweet noise? I’ve participated in about a dozen online wine taste and tweet events. Some are small affairs featuring one wine from one winery with a group of 10-15 people. Others are massive world-wide tastings that bring together consumers, trade, aficionados, and beginners for the joy of the grape. The benefits of participating are many!
The intimate twitter tastings have been fun and informative. Experiencing 1 or 2 wines with a group of people, and often times with the winery, opens up my eyes to new things about the business of wine and the joy of drinking it. Each time I walk away with at least one new piece of information and one new twitter friend.
Mass online wine tasting events are an adventure and can often be overwhelming as you sift through the incredible cacophony of chirps and tweets. The recent #Cabernet day, while organized by Rick Bakas of St. Supery winery, quickly grew to be owned by the entire online community. A true use of the organic nature of social media, #Cabernet day was celebrated in New Zealand, Australia, many European countries, South America and North America. I even saw tweets from China as Brian Wing of norcalwingman.com struggled to find good #Cabernet. Several dozen wineries in Walla Walla joined together for a trade celebration. Large meet-ups were organized in Seattle, Phoenix, San Francisco, New York and more. Morton’s Steakhouse restaurant chain promoted #Cabernet day at all of their locations. Five Spokane wineries got on board offering discounts to Cabernet lovers across the city. The result, the king grape Cabernet, showed its worldwide dominance. Pretty amazing for something that started as a single tweet. There is power in an interconnected community that embraces a collaborative spirit.
As I tweeted and tasted three amazing #Cabernet Sauvignon, a few things came to mind. One, wow, people love their Cabernet. The sheer volume of tweets and participants dwarfed the previous tastings I’ve hosted and participated in. Two, consumers were everywhere. Hundreds and thousands of tweets and Facebook wall posts from people not in the “trade” consumed my feed. Three, where was the media or power players? Apart from a large presence from WineLibrary.com and Corkd.com, I saw very little interaction and involvement from those who are proponents and communicators of wine news. Where was Wine Enthusiast or Wine Advocate? How come bloggers and writers like Dr. Vino, Vinography, Tom Wark and others weren’t involved? While I can’t claim to know their schedule or their reasons, it was just a curious observation.
As a newbie to the online community, involvement for me means connecting with people. Keeping up with the blur of tweets is an overwhelming challenge but tasting along with everyone else exposes me to new people and also helps introduce my blog to fellow wine lovers. As a blogger, I want people to read my blog. I write about wine. How often do you get the opportunity to potentially touch 2000-3000 like minded people at once with your brand? For me, not being involved is a missed opportunity in my book.
Before I talk about #Cabernet day stats, it is helpful to put it in perspective with other successful broad scale online tastings. Bakas’ first event of the year, #CaliCabs generated about 1400 tweets from 275 participants. Our first Washington based tasting, #WAMerlot, brought 480 people together online for 1900 tweets. On May 6, #Chardonnay swelled to over 600 participants. Earlier in the summer, winetonite.com , suburbanwino.com, and sipwithme.blogspot.com hosted Pinot Noir with 2000 tweets by 325 people. This brings us to #Cabernet. Buzz leading up to the day indicated that the event was going to be massive. The twitter machines seemed to be coming alive with a love of #Cabernet. The result (according to www.wthashtag.com):
7200 tweets by nearly 1750 individuals
In addition to tracking tweets, Booshaka.com indicates that there were over 3500 Facebook wall posts mentioning Cabernet. This, combined with the 50+ in person tasting events easily drives potential participation rates to well north of 3000 people. Imagine the wine sales! Consider the economic impact! Keep in mind the total dollar amount spent to promote the event – $0
Upcoming Online Tasting Events
The NectarView – Hip Hip Hooray for my Cabernet
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet from three Walla Walla vineyard sources. No specific information available on web site. 13.5% ABV, winemaker Robert Smasne
- The Swirl: Dark in the glass with about 70% opacity. Wonderfully thick with a slight cloudiness
- The Sniff: Initially the wine presented a musty barrel room smell. After about an hour of decanting the nose came a live with cedar, dark cherry aromas, tobacco, and hints of burnt campfire wood (like right after you douse it with water).
- The Sip: Very impressed with the mouth fell of the wine. An immediate attack of cherry fruit envelopes your whole mouth and then dissipates to include black tea and dark chocolate. The oak is well integrated and the finish is full with smoother tannin and nice acidity.
- The Score: At only $32 this is a superb Cabernet that outperforms the price point. Drinks well with or without food but really shined when paired with our dinner, Guinness Angus burgers and blue cheese. 4/5
Scored 90 pts Wine Advocate and won gold at the 2010 Seattle Wine Awards
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from various Napa Valley vineyards; 16 months in new French oak; 15.2%ABV; winemaker Chuck Wagner
- The Swirl: Medium body color with crimson highlights in the deep purple hue
- The Sniff: Coy nose with moderate fragrances of cranberry, vanilla and chocolate milk
- The Sip: A very smooth and elegant presentation of a Cabernet that offers up flavors of spiced oak, creamy vanilla and under ripe red berries. The mid-palate feels slightly hollow and the finish offers silky tannin and moderate acidity. Surprising balance with the high ABV as it’s not noticeable.
- The Score: At $60, this isn’t a big full bodied Cabernet that I would expect (especially for the age). The flavor is quite nice and will certainly impress even your most discriminating wine friends. I appreciated the easy sipping and well balanced flavor. 3+/5
- The Stuff: 100% Cabernet from select barrels of various Napa Valley vineyards. 16 months of new French oak; 15.4%ABV
- The Swirl: The dark purple colors are nearly opaque. The clarity is like liquid jewelry and the light refracts across the top.
- The Sniff: Vibrant aromas of eucalyptus, menthol, dark chocolate, and vanilla. A slight under-ripe red berry note is also detectable
- The Sip: An impressively well made wine that showcases the balance of fruit, oak treatment, and Napa Valley Cabernet. The wine has a flavor of thick cream, under-ripe red berries, and what I would imagine an evergreen tree to taste like. The finish is full and lush and the tannins have a surprisingly smooth velvet finish with only a slight chalkiness on the back end.
- The Score: Not many people have $120 to drop on a bottle of wine. If 2008 is a special year for you (celebrating a birth or a wedding), I can definitely recommend this wine as a buy and hold. The Special Selection performs nicely now, but will definitely live up to its price point in 7-10 years. 4/5
Check out this great video from Caymus Vineyards about part of the wine making process.
*Wine was provided as an industry sample with the intention to review