OMG, a wine review in 140 characters or less?

2011-03-07 00:00

WE live in the age of the Twitter mind-set. If you cannot say it in 140 characters, chances are it’s not worth saying. All around the globe, social-media wine communities are emerging to educate the masses about wine.

Social network Snooth, which is based in the United States, has built an online community for wine drinkers. Users of the site can review and shop for wine.

Wine-life in the United Kingdom engages audiences with topics, reviews and tales of wine making today.

South African site Spit or Swallow allows users to rate and review wine farms along popular wine routes.

South Africa’s wine community is slowly finding its way online and picking up new members. As a country with a keen interest in social media, most people online aren’t embedded in the wine community nor do they understand it.

Real Time Wine is a new website dedicated to wine reviews for the digital-generation born with the 140-character attention span — reviews for the “common person” apparently.

According to its creator, Andy Hadfield, the site is a response after reading one too many wine reviews that made little to no sense to him.

“I didn’t understand a word they were saying. I felt excluded by this. I enjoy wine and I like talking about it but this community is closed off,” says Hadfield.

Hadfield, a digital veteran, feels that wine doesn’t need excessive words to make it interesting. “Wordiness equals tardiness,” according to Hadfield.

Instead of the stars most wine reviewers give, the site scores the wines from one to 10. Hadfield scored the ‎2008 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc a nine, stating: “It’s like two apples running through a meadow, embracing, on my tongue. OMG.”

Anyone is allowed to review. One of the site’s contributors, blogger and marketing co-ordinator at Backsberg, Harry Reginald Haddon, scored the 2007 Neil Ellis Aenigma a seven: “Damn delicious. Blackberry, a little bitter chocolate, very juicy. Delights and tempts. A sweet-16 red wine.”

Real Time Wine has received some attention from those in the wine community who use words that Hadfield “doesn’t understand”.

Tim James, a prominent wine reviewer for Platter’s Guide, wrote a blog post on Grape, discussing Hadfield’s site. In his post, James wishes the project well but seems to find it “impossible to believe that anyone is going to find it nourishing for long.”

He further adds that the site is “vacuous” and “sadly rather dull and boring — which is surely just what it shouldn’t be”.

Sunday Times columnist Neil Pendock, in his blog Pendock Uncorked, wrote what he called “an open tweet to Andy Hadfield”.

Pendock both criticises and praises Real Time Wine reviews. Although he mainly uses Twitter to tweet his blog posts, Pendock hadn’t really taken to wine reviews of 140 character or less, until he wrote his tweet on a piece of paper in a “tweet-off” with Andy Hadfield.

Hadfield’s argument for the site is that there is a need for inclusion in the wine community. The more people who tweet about wine the more “other people will try those wines because ‘normal’ people are telling them about it.”

Wine reviews in less that 140 characters are gaining popularity within the wine industry from large brands to boutique farms.

Many estates have already started tapping into the twitterverse and blogosphere by hosting “tweet-ups” with wine lovers and encouraging them to taste and tweet from their mobile phones.

Real Time Wine is an interesting site with a cheeky edge that appeals to the younger, Internet- and smartphone-savvy market. The site also looks to attract a broader audience of wine lovers who are looking for a straightforward review from “ordinary people” instead of complicated tasting notes that exclude those without such sharp palates. Hadfield is also sourcing a humorous list of words which shouldn’t be used when reviewing wine, such as “robust”, “Russian tarragon herb” and “cassis”. Hadfield welcomes any contributions to the list so send your suggestions to @Realtimewine.

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