Is It Time For Wine To Get The Like Button?

Vinted on July 6, 2011 binned in best of, commentary, going pro

We wine geeks review wines in all manner of differing ways.  There’s nearly as much variety in those review systems as there are in wine styles.  Points.  Stars.  In my case, grades and badges.

And we’re social about it, too – CellarTracker.com is pretty much the world’s largest wine review repository at this point (closing in on 2 million reviews at the time of this post), and for the most part it’s populated with ratings penned by people who are not professional wine critics; they just want to catalog – and share – their thoughts on their encounters with world’s most awesome beverage.

Seems to me the most social and dead-simplest wine review, though – one that even makes 140-character twitter reviews seem overly-verbose by comparison – would be the Like button.

Yes, I’m serious.  I think.

Of course, I’m talking about the thing that publicly alerts other Facebook users to the fact that enjoyed a post/status/photo/brand/etc. It might actually be more accurate to say that the Like button click means that you took a few seconds out of your busy day to tap on a button because other people also clicked on it, but that’s not the Like button’s fault (it’s more human nature’s fault).  You can lump Google’s recent foray into the social approval space – the +1 button – into the same camp, and feel free to use that interchangeably here whenever I mention the Like button (the concepts are, from what I can discern, pretty much identical – let people know publicly what you like in a social setting on-line). And the concept is now ubiquitous on the ‘global interwebs': even blog comment systems have them for individual comments.  The Like button also refers people who buy, and when it does they buy more stuff. Only a matter of time before it takes over the wine world, right?

No points, ratings, or even words.  You dig the wine, you +1 it; you enjoy sipping that vino, you ‘Like’ it.  Done and dusted, end of discussion.

Or is it?…

Wouldn’t that concept take the discussion, detailed descriptors, and some of the joy out of a wine review and wine recommendations?

Yeah, I think it would.  Maybe.

Which isn’t the same thing as saying that we won’t ever see it – in fact, I think we will, and on top of that, I think it’s inevitable (if someone isn’t working on it already, they probably will be after reading this).  Bottom line, this is where we’re heading: your friends recommend / Like / +1 a wine, so maybe you’ll try it, too.

But then again… we’re a curious species, and I’d rank wine geeks as among the most curious of the homo sapiens bunch.  Why did our cousin who loves Riesling give the Like action to that big Spanish red blend?  Inquiring minds wanna know…

So the Like action could actually be the starting point for discussion, not the end of it; it might engender more words about a wine, not less, and all in specific contexts that are potentially more meaningful to the average person than a number and/or a protracted list of taste descriptors.

Maybe.

Either way, the more I review wine, and the more social it gets, and arguably the more simple I get, the more this concept fascinates me… the wordless, numberless, characterless (possibly in more ways than one?) social wine recommendation.

Although, right now I think a far more practical addition to the on-line vinous lexicon might actually be the incorporation of the sarcastic “Cool Post, Bro!” meme into wine, particularly when it’s poured at large tasting events:

Me (to wine producer X at their tasting table at large wine industry event): So, tell me, what makes this wine special… what makes it uniquely yours?

Wine Producer X: This wine spent 18 months in oak, and was about 26 Brix at harvest, during which we got yields per acre of about–

Me: Cool Wine, Bro! (spits into bucket, leaves abruptly)…

Now that, to coin an oft-used social networking phrase, would be EPIC!

Cheers!

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    Comments

  • ONX Wine


    So we hope not to get the Cool Wine, bro right? A good addition would be if you could press a button on the bottle and it shows how many 'likes' that wine has gotten. In future maybe there will be a 'like' rating system for wine instead of the point system.

    • 1WineDude


      ONX – I guess it is sort of like wine review by popular vote… I feel as though we are heading in that direction, slowly, away from points and towards a world of recommendations. And you definitely do NOT want the Cool Wine, Bro! button. :)

  • Jason Phelps


    I agree with the idea that this is where things are going, but don't believe that there is value in it.

    Online communities are typically (this metric was passed along to me) made up of 90% consumers, 9% engagers and 1% producers. The Like button is a way to make it seem as though the community is much more active than it really is. With the ease of 1 click a vote is cast, but without meaning the person is still in the 90%. To move into the 9% you need to engage with meaning, which is beyond just liking something. To me the Like function seems like a trick to make something seem more valuable/bigger than it is.

    I hope we can avoid that. We have some much fun doing what we do that I'd rather have the level of meaningful engagement that I do have over lots of Likes, but not communication with the people they represent.

    This article made me think today, always a good thing!

    Jason

    • 1WineDude


      Hey Jason – thanks for the comment. The data, according to the articles I linked to, seems to support your conclusion on the herd mentality of the Like button (but then, that's more related to human nature than to the Like button itself).

      Like you, I'd hate to see the conversations go away. It could be that Liking something could generate conversation… but given how it's implemented right now (without comment, for example), it seems unlikely. Cheers!

      • Michael


        I agree with Jason. This is why there are good surveys and bad surveys (and a whole science behind surveys). For the like to be at all meaningful, I need to know either how many people tried the wine or how many people "disliked" it, and that all (or most) who tasted it responded. (100 likes when 2000 people tried the wine actually may mean it had a poor showing.) Maybe people need an incentive to click like or dislike to raise participation (see Good Grape's recent post on gaming in the online wine world). Last, I think, at best, this would lead to just one of the aspects we (geeks) look for in wine — a crowd pleaser. Even you use at least two other badges in your own ratings. Like is not likely (pun intended) to uncover the hidden gems and offbeat options.

        • 1WineDude


          Thanks, Michael! We 'like' Good Grape posts here :-).

          • Michael


            Oops — 4 other badges (didn't mean to short change you).

            • 1WineDude


              Michael – no height jokes, please… :)

  • @terrychristiani


    Cruvee is already doing this for its subscribers and as a wine marketer, I find this whole concept empowering. You are right; the Like/+1 will only get the ball rolling. It cracks open a window for the consumer that hopefully will lead to greater engagement and really, the quality of that engagement is up to the professionals to help shape and guide.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Terry – I didn't know about the Cruvee 'Like', actually now that I think about it I'd heard it but I thought they had to disable it because it was buggy at one point?

  • @Sedimentblog


    Like!

    • 1WineDude


      Sediment – can I 'like' your Like, or is that too recursive…? :)

  • John


    I "like" the idea, as it strips away all pretensions to expertise. But then I wonder how much it will cost me per click to pay people to "like" my wine? Cool post, bro! ;-)

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks John. Wait a sec… "Cool post…"??! Why I oughta…..!!!

      ;-)

  • @viniculture_pl


    Hi,

    I think your post is a starter for two-dimensional conversation.
    First is idea behind giving your "like". Mostly I agree with your arguments. I'm not a supporter of giving points or stars. Much better is "drinkability factor/rate" – maybe this wine is not 92/100, rather like 79/100 but I would give it high "drinkability" rate because I think it's perfect for me at the time where I'm. I think today it's more informative to consumers than just number is a certain scale.
    I disagree for such a "like" expression without words. If someone said "I like" particular wine it's not full information to me. What if I don't like super-heavy-bodied chardonnay which has just been rated by "like". I see only "like" statement and have no idea about style…?

    On the other hand we have potential reach and production size. If wine "x" is a million bottles producer, available almost everywhere than it could gather a lot of "like" potentially… In comparison to small producer, better quality, smaller production it will win for sure. Lets say it's not unfair judgement…

    I know, I know. It's impossible to create justify rating system in any area of human social life, but it doesnt mean we shouldn't try to search it;)

    • 1WineDude


      @viniculture_pl – Hello my man! Impossible for sure, but it makes for fun geeky wine conversation, doesn't it? ;-)

  • Robert McIntosh


    Joe, Naked Wines in the UK has been doing that for some time. They started with rating scales, but finally switched to just "Would you buy again" Yes/No – that's what it comes down to, right?

    • 1WineDude


      Hi Robert – thanks, didn't know about that. Do they also provide explanations / comments along with the Y/N recommendation?

  • winebratsf


    I believe the LIKE button is very much a conversation starter. Well, if anyone talks to you ;-)
    The point – to me – of said button, is that if you like a post, product, widget or doohicky enough to share it on your personal facebook page with your 8 friends, that you are clearly making a statement. I myself have started conversations about "LIKE" posts, but also in turn, have reviewed something that a facebook compatriot also LIKED.

    With the added ability to customize your comment when liking something, I think it is a no brainer. The simple one click however, I think does a disservice to the reader however, since you cannot add personalization.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Thea! I suppose it could be argued that it does a disservice to the wine as well, but then we can say the same for any rating system I think. Cheers!

      • thinkbeautifully1


        That's the juxtaposition! Like Doug pointed out below, the average wine consumer will knock it out of the park with the like button; the geeks (waving) will still want more info, and will likely comment, or…if the pigs could fly…have a "like to Cellar Tracker" button, we'd be in heaven.

        All the same, the button just starts a conversation. If you had the ability to choose a FB profile, say for … my little ole blog … it's another way for me to broaden the circle – I like the post / wine, tell my readers, they like, etc.

        And yep! You totally could say the same of ANY system. It is after all, immensely subjective, which is why I always stress that my palate is not your palate but if you liked THIS wine you might like THAT wine.

        :-D

      • winebratsf


        That's the juxtaposition! Like Doug pointed out below, the average wine consumer will knock it out of the park with the like button; the geeks (waving) will still want more info, and will likely comment, or…if the pigs could fly…have a "like to Cellar Tracker" button, we'd be in heaven.

        All the same, the button just starts a conversation. If you had the ability to choose a FB profile, say for … my little ole blog … it's another way for me to broaden the circle – I like the post / wine, tell my readers, they like, etc.

        And yep! You totally could say the same of ANY system. It is after all, immensely subjective, which is why I always stress that my palate is not your palate but if you liked THIS wine you might like THAT wine.

        • 1WineDude


          Thea, you just designed a kick-ass social media wine system right there. Call Vintank and Cruvee – and tell them I told you to charge them! :)

          • winebratsf


            Ohhhh! Can I quit my day job now? SWEEET!
            ;-)

            • 1WineDude


              Hey, why not, Thea – that’s what I’m planning on doing! :)

              • winebratsf


                I thought you **DID**!

                ;-)
                ps it's in the 5 year plan…

              • 1WineDude


                My plan feels like it is turning into a 5 year plan at this point…

              • winebratsf


                I thought I felt a disturbance in the force. Now I understand why!

  • Doug


    I think the key issue is the audience. If it's your average wine drinker who is just trying to decide on a bottle to buy in a restaurant or grocery store, that Like button could help cut down the options to something more manageable. I think that's what 90+ point wines does for most people. For people who have a more serious interest, like those who follow wine blogs :), such a button could be used to start a conversation within a social network. Hopefully everyone develops a better understanding of their palates and preferences, and has some fun doing it at the same time.

    • 1WineDude


      Doug – love that outlook, especially the part about developing palates and knowledge about personal preferences.

      Interestingly, your comment suggests a kind of harmony in that sort of “review,” between what a lot of other people might consider totally opposing needs (those of the casual drinker looking for a quick recommendation, and the enthusiast looking to geek out). Thanks for that positive outlook – I needed that today! :)

  • Doug Wilder


    Being able to select a "Like" button for wines would be a simple way for an individual to catalog what they prefer to drink (because ultimately, that is what it comes down to, for all of us) but without the context of why that person feels the way they do, to share that information is meaningless. It would lead this observer to question the attention span or possibly even the wine vocabulary of the poster. I want to reemphasize, used for your own purposes, it can be a great short hand. Published, it just adds to the noise level of what social media has become.

    Consider two people who like the "Chevrolet" button in an FB ad, that's fine except one is a cattle rancher in Montana and the other is a 28 year old bachelor in South Beach. I think CT is a beautiful thing if you throw out the high and low scores and you can see some sense of consistency in descriptors and posters. For a wine writer /critic to use the word as a sole recommendation, it is unthinkable. I mean really – who would do that?

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Doug – I am pretty sure no critic would do it. I’m also pretty sure lots of non-critics would. And as you say, without context it would be almost meaningless apart from a volume thing. So the context of how it’s implemented (as in the new CT example) would be key I think.

  • joe_fel


    Since you mentioned http://www.cellartracker.com in your article,n on Eric's new site http://www.cellartracker.com/new, when you rate a wine, you can also choose whether you like it or not or whether you are neutral about the wine.

    • 1WineDude


      joe – interesting! and yet, Eric had some difficulty in getting people to adopt the new CT site… I wonder if he should have played up the Like/Dislike feature more?

  • Joel Burt


    The wine lovers at Second Glass have an iphone ap where you vote wines "like it," "Love it" or "Meh" at their Wine Riot events. http://secondglass.com/ People can also write a tasting note.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Joel. Personally, I love the inclusion of "meh" :).

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Wednesday Wraparound | STEVE HEIMOFF| WINE BLOG
    Wednesday, 6 July, 2011

    […] The Dude is calling for Internet people to use a simple “Like button to indicate whether or not they care for a wine. That way, wine reviewing more closely resembles an election that the thoughtful, considered expertise of a professionally trained wine critic who has the knowledge, wisdom and background to properly evaluate a wine, as opposed to the animal urges of the great unwashed boobocracy, whose tragic misunderstanding of complicated issues gives us, through the magic of elections, the very nincompoops who are presently paralyzing our government… […]

  • Trackback from Wine Cellar Roundup – Episode #42
    Sunday, 10 July, 2011

    […] had some good talk about wine reviews. I think moving away from points and to likes or +1 because personal recommendations are the best […]

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