NEWS / INSIGHT

A grape way to disrupt the wine business

How innovation and tradition are shaking up drinking

It may seem like wine has been left behind in the craft beer revolution, becoming something of a heritage option, but it’s been on its own journey of artisanal innovation for some time now.

Natural, organic and biodynamic are the buzzwords, and bold new producers are forging ahead in business by going back to basics. Meanwhile, a proliferation of apps and startups are making it easier than ever to be wine-savvy, and never more than a couple of clicks away from a delicious new bottle.

Getting back to nature

As drinkers are becoming interested in the earthy delights of unfiltered, unpasteurised beers, they’re also turning to what’s becoming known as ‘real wine’. 

Natural wine has been left to ‘make itself’, produced with minimal interference from people and as little as possible added. The concept was started back in the 1980s by a small group of French and Italian winemakers who wanted to turn away from mass-produced industrial fare. Just a few years ago wine pundits were declaring natural wine a passing fad, but it’s still riding high. 

Enthusiastic new players include Eric Narioo and Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene, who made it into the Telegraph’s Food and Drink Power List 2017. They conceived London’s Real Wine Fair, which brought more than 800 wines and 170 growers to the capital this year. 

With interest in veganism growing too, vegan wines – made without the use of animal products like gelatin and fish-derived isinglass as clarifiers – are also becoming more popular. 

Naturally, the phrase ‘hipster wine’ has been bandied about, with the Guardian quick to investigate. Certainly, the trendy-hippie vibe of rough ’n’ ready old-school wine – often hand-harvested, crushed by bare feet and sometimes featuring little bits of grape skin and stem – puts some off. But millennials eager for new experiences and not intimidated by radical new approaches are bound to keep interest up.

Overall, there’s a sense that wine is as worthy of investment and innovation as ever, and with a steady stream of new devotees flowing its way, who’s to argue?

 
 

Instant expertise

There are apps galore to help you enjoy wine more. Former Facebook software engineer Roddy Lindsay developed the WineGlass app which, as Techcrunch explains, brings up a wealth of helpful information about your wine options when you take a picture of a menu. 

Vivino is the world’s biggest wine app, with 16 million users – founded, as Business Insider relates, by two Danes who knew nothing about the industry. It lets you become an instant expert when you scan a wine label with your phone. Startups are keen to deliver the good stuff, too; London’s Evening Standard explains that the perfectly-named Drop will bring your favourite bottle direct to your door, right away. 

The Wine Ring app, as CNBC reports, features patented tech which learns your likes and dislikes as you try new wines and rate them, and makes recommendations accordingly. Can you say ‘the Netflix of drinking’?

Corkscrew 3.0

Naturally, there are plenty of new wine gadgets to be had too. 

Someone always seems to have a better idea for the humble corkscrew, but now there’s a Wi-Fi wine bottle. Kuvee raised $6 million (£4.7 million) in funding, and as Techcrunch reports, it claims to keep wine fresh for up to 30 days. It also boasts its own touchscreen that tells you all about the contents. 

And as CNN Money reports, Coravin lets you open and then reseal wine using a needle and argon gas, which could make wine waste a thing of the past. 

Artificial intelligence is getting in on the act too, as Vice’s Motherboard reports – Invinio, run by a former hedge fund trader, aims to advise people on the management of their wine portfolios by predicting what their most precious bottles will be worth using machine learning techniques. (Although if you made a good trade, how on earth would you celebrate?)

Glass of 2017

Forbes explains that an Australian startup wine club called Vinomofo has found success partly due to its ‘honest’ branding, making it stand out in the sometimes stuffy world of wine. Co-founder Justin Dry proclaims “a revolution against the bowties and BS of the wine snobs and posers who think wine is for the chosen few elite and educated”. 

Overall, there’s a sense that wine is as worthy of investment and innovation as ever, and with a steady stream of new devotees flowing its way, who’s to argue?

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