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Wine and facebook; all very two point oh

Web2.0, Wine2.0, Life2.0

I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that just as anything and everything became eAnything, then iAnything, we now have Anything2.0.

The simplest way to make your product sound ‘hip and with-it’ (unlike that phrase) is to add that 2.0 at the end, but what does it really mean? Wine2.0 is something that is being quoted more and more often, especially by bloggers who see themselves as those leading the new revolution in wine. I have recently joined various groups of fellow wine bloggers on facebook, and this is one of the topics for discussion.

Well, actually it isn’t. It is apparently assumed we know what this all means, and this is what lets such developments down. If we don’t know what we are doing, how can we do it together?

Some of the leaders of this group, and organisers of an event actually entitled Wine2.0, have described the reasons for it as follows:

“We set Wine 2.0 up to draw a line in the sand that divided the first batch of wine companies founded during the dotcom boom (most died a horrible death, some several times over), from a new generation of entrepreneurs rejuvenated by their love of wine and the prospects of fresh, new and creative thinking.”

I find that uninspiring, as it would seem to boil down to “we are doing the same as before, just better”.

What is it that characterises truly “new” developments in wine, worthy of a “next generation” label such as Wine 2.0?

Interactivity.

Most of the past developments, even on the web, were really just new forms of retail. They may have included more information than before and new ways to select preferences (e.g. Virgin Wines as was), but essentially they did the same job as before the world wide web arrived in the wine world.

The real differences are emerging in the areas of wine blogs, community tasting note sites, interactive cellar management, and even collaborative wine making schemes.

The difference is the involvement of the consumer in many more aspects of the business of making, branding, tasting and selling wines. It is very difficult to actually make your own wine (well) so the vast majority of consumers have absolutely no understanding of this process. It is magic. As long as wine retains its mystique, this might be a positive thing, but it also helps to keep pressure on prices.

Now, anyone can read the thoughts and about the daily routines of winemakers on their blogs, and even ask them questions. There are videos to watch about viticulture and the harvest, sites to read, watch and share tasting notes, and even schemes to allow you to make your own wines. I suspect that this will transform wine in a much more fundamental manner than the wine trade currently expect; it is ever thus with revolutions.

The missing link is how to make this a seamless part of everyday life (not a chore), AND KEEP IT FUN. Also, any site that wants to build on trends and links needs to reach a critical mass, fast.

This is where facebook comes in. Whatever brings you to facebook (scrabble, finding old school friends, searching for a date, political activism, …) the power of the site is its ability to build communities from shared interests. If you want to find someone else who likes music by Imogen Heap, simply click on her name in your profile (I got over 500 matches in my London network). The Last.fm application even logs all the music I play and builds a “neighbourhood” of people that have similar tastes to me which I can share through facebook.

It is quite easy to see how this could, in theory, translate to wine. Wine has not got there yet, but it will. Those who establish themselves early are likely to become highly influential and it will be very interesting to watch it happen.

One tip, look out for a certain Mr Vaynerchuk as he is likely to be a player.

Next, some thoughts on how wine bloggers are using facebook.

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