Let’s imagine we’re in… 2030.
Your self-driving car is taking you back home and you’re getting ready to have friends over for dinner. Along the way, you’ve asked your connected smart cellar to pick the two or three best bottles of wine for the evening.
How could your cellar actually pick which bottles are the best for this particular dinner? It’s easy, really. The system knows your menu, because you looked and selected your recipes on a specialized website. It knows which friends are coming over, because you worked out the invitation through Doodle. It knows your friends’ tastes, because you’re all connected through a wine app, where your friends note the wines they like. Finally, it knows what you feel like right now, thanks to the mood detector in your watch. And the cherry on top—the wines will have been aerated and set to the ideal serving temperature, thanks to a connected decanter.
Is this science fiction? Today, yes. Right now, this “system” doesn’t exist in any integrated fashion. However, each of the elements mentioned above do exist, individually, and they already work, today, in 2016.
Let’s take a look at the various elements that will make this scenario possible—and maybe a lot quicker than you’d think.
There’s an App for That… Wine
As far as apps are concerned, wine lovers have plenty of choices already. You can find what suits you through mobile versions of preeminent sites like Wine Searcher, Snooth, or Cellar Tracker, or try newer, wine-dedicated apps such as Vivino, Wine Advisor, Drync, Delectable, TWIL, or Phileas Sommelier.
At the heart of these apps, there is a central principle: label recognition. This opens the doors to many types of services, depending on the app—discovering other people’s opinions on a wine, giving your own evaluation, keeping a record of that wine, sharing your tasting notes on social media, learning more about wines and appellations and, importantly, ordering wine. This last point is what most of these apps are basing their business model on as they dream of becoming the Shazam of wine—in other words, a tool that allows you to go straight from identification to purchase. With a claim to more than 13 million users, 205 million labels scanned, as well as over $35 million raised in funding, Vivino seems like the current leader in that particular segment.
Looking to the future, there is no doubt that these apps, by creating a large database of preferences, will be able to develop functions that will help you select your future wine, by recommending or determining whether you would like a certain wine, in the same way that Amazon does for books and music.
Numerous sites and applications already have “libraries” of food and wine pairings. Often, recommendations have been compiled manually by sommeliers.
One interesting new service to watch, on that front, is DeliPair. The idea is simple: users copy and paste the link of a recipe they found on the internet and DeliPair’s algorithm will identify ingredients in the recipe and analyze what wines will harmonize and balance out the meal. Veal tagine? The system identifies this as a sweet/salty dish of white meat and recommends either a Northern Rhône Syrah, on the one hand, or an off-dry Riesling to play with the sweetness in the dish. The service still needs some improvement, but the idea is promising.
In 2020, over 25 billion objects will be connected to each other and to the internet.
Among all the innovations in the world of wine, the Caveasy connected cellar seems particularly promising, and it was actually voted most promising project at the March 2015 Vinocamp in Paris. The concept is that your cellar becomes “smart.” It knows the wines you have in stock and detects what is taken out through sensors. Over time, it learns your wine preferences (how much, what kind of wines, at which time of the year, etc.) and can therefore make recommendations or provide reminders. For instance, it may say, “We’ve noticed that you usually have a monthly consumption of 12 bottles of rosé per month, in June. Today is June 14 and you only have three bottles left. Would you like to order more?”
In the world of beer, services of this kind are already in production, like iKegs, a system that allows bars to connect their kegs and know their fill levels, anticipate rotations, and automatically initiate reorders. These types of innovations will gradually become available for beverages across the board in the years ahead.
In Tune with Your Taste?
Taste and preferences are subjective and depend on a number of parameters. Is it possible to detect them by looking at what we’re thinking?
Neurokiff, a young startup in the French city of Nantes, has decided to try its hand at it. It offers an innovative service: an emotion sensor that can help determine whether you like a wine or a dish—or not—by reading your brain waves. No doubt that through the miracles of progress and miniaturization, those sensors could soon find their way into our headphones.
A Possible Future?
As you can see, those innovations are already available or on the way. No doubt that over the coming years, they will start to integrate into a more global service.
As for the self-driving car, well… You might have to wait until 2030.