The UK seems to be gearing up for a second lockdown, the US election is just around the corner, Covid-19 cases are canceling Christmas in Strasbourg, the time has never been better to reach for that bottle of wine you’ve had on the shelf for a year. Half the time, however, the red or white tends to be a disappointment. Often, it’s just slightly too…something. Unfortunately, unless you belong to the elite club of wine experts and sommeliers, finding a good bottle is difficult, and figuring out what you enjoy and how to describe your palate and preference is an even more daunting process.
Or at least, it was.
Wine clubs open up access to quality wines for every palate
As with many things, the internet is starting to change the way we consume and think about wine. It is also making it easier for us to access quality wines, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Covid has all our spirits low, and we are all supposed to stay at home whenever possible. But now, thanks to online ordering and reliable delivery, we don’t have to give up on a romantic dinner with a nice bottle of Cabernet-Sauvignon. Or our fifth Chardonnay of the month!
Wine delivery has never been simpler, thanks in large part to the digital transformation of the industry. Whether using something like drizzly to order a cheap brace of bottles for a party in a hurry or an app like Palate Club to customize a case delivered for each month, the process is as simple as a few taps on your screen.
Yet access to wine is not the same as access to good wine. A fact that anyone who has been gifted a bottle of cheap rosé wine probably knows all too well. While ordering online and having wine delivered makes it safer than heading to the store to find a quality wine, it doesn’t necessarily make it more successful.
Why is it so difficult to find the right wine for your palate?
Even if you know what you enjoy in a red or white wine, actually picking out a bottle that matches your taste is difficult. To start with, the labels are distracting, if not downright misleading. The bigger companies can afford the marketing budget, and the boutique wineries try to stand out only to have any successful ideas quickly imitated in a vicious marketing circle that leaves consumers dizzy.
So some turn to the numbers, notably the wine’s rankings by prestigious connoisseurs.
Unfortunately, they are notoriously unreliable. Expert’s ratings often reflect a very specific and subjective set of criteria which may, or may not, match yours. In a world of subjective tastes, their descriptions might be more helpful than the score. But those are labeled with obscure buzzwords or inscrutable platitudes. “The wine reflects the light and moody aroma of the Tuscan wildlands” makes for good poetry but a headache when you are trying to figure out what it will taste like.
Sadly this is one area where going online was not automatically more helpful. While you can find reviews and ratings by ordinary people readily available, they don’t solve the problem. For one thing, genuine and accurate information is hard to find hidden amongst paid content, affiliate blogs, and the lack of digital presence of most wineries. Second, even if you can find good trustworthy reviews, there is still no guarantee that the customers’ tastes match yours. But what about the wine clubs we mentioned earlier? Can they satisfy your palate?
Unfortunately, the vast majority of wine clubs, convenient and helpful as they are, suffer from the same problem. You can probably find a wine club that fits the quality criterion you may have but, until recently, you could not find one to tailor the deliveries to your palate.
Palate Club innovators using data to match wine to tastes
A Bay Area startup is offering up a solution to this dilemma and, as a result, capturing the attention of both the wine world and the tech world. Palate Club’s principle is simple: discover what the customer likes in wine, and deliver them bottles matched to their palate. The real win is that the customer doesn’t even have to know why they like it; Palate Club’s algorithm takes care of that.
They have trusted wine experts from the US and France collecting data—hundreds of points on each bottle. Then, when a customer rates a wine that they’ve tasted (hopefully blind for maximum objectivity), Palate Club’s proprietary taste matching algorithm builds their palate profile. Like this, they know what traits each customer enjoys and which they would rather avoid, helping wine lovers to understand their preferences in the process.
The more wine you drink from them, the more clearly you will begin to discover your own tastes, and the better the wines you receive from the wine club will match your palate’s preferences.
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