I dipped into last night’s wine “Tweetup” event, an online wine tasting organized on Twitter and, despite a bit of skepticism, I must say I enjoyed the experience. The theme was wine blends: open a blended wine and then voice an opinion about it in 140 characters or less (actually 129 characters because at the end of each Tweet you had to type in “#wineblends” so that all who were involved in the event could see your posts.
The tasting was held from 5 to 7 PM Pacific time, which was actually great for me because we usually eat dinner here in New York after 8, so I was able to provide a food context. The wine I chose was Newton Vineyard’s 2006 Napa Valley Claret, a $25 blend of mainly merlot and cabernet sauvignon with smaller amounts of cabernet franc, petit verdot and syrah. I was hoping that it would be a good match for what seemed like a classic, simple pairing: grilled steak, baked potatoes and sautéed broccoli rabe.
The combination, it turned out, was superb, and I was excited to Tweet about it. So there I was, BlackBerry in hand at the dinner table with my wife Carla, who has a thing about manners, and our two boys who were clearly wondering what I was doing with my gadget when they couldn’t play with theirs. It was “business,” Carla explained. And so I called up Twitter, logged in and posted my first Tweet of the evening: “Nice combo = prime London broil + Newton's '06 Napa Valley Claret.” I immediately followed that one with a slightly more specific Tweet: “Newton's '06 Napa Val Claret kinda Bordeaux-like w/nice bal, gd tan struct, pretty dark berry fruit.”
Within minutes, I heard from an acquaintance, “joejanish,” who wanted to know, “What is more chewy? the london broil or the tannins in that claret?” I laughed out loud and clearly had to think of an equally witty counter-Tweet. Almost immediately, the experience had become more than about just the wine; it was entertainment, which is clearly part of what is drawing so many people into it. “Chewiness is in check in both,” I replied. “Maybe it's the A1 sauce neutralizing the steak & wine. ”
And so it went for a couple of hours with strangers and friends, amateurs and wine professionals, all mingling virtually as they posted tasting notes, observations and friendly banter. Some had gotten together at wineries or art galleries or in their homes for the event. Most seemed to have had a good time. Back on Twitter today, someone wrote that the event was attended by 347 “Tweeps” who posted 1,781 Tweets.
Wineries that had organized tastings within the Tweetup seemed ecstatic after last night’s event, as well they should be. With the chance to promote their brands to hundreds of wine enthusiasts at a time, the chances for positive feedback and increasing sales are high. It would be interesting to know whether anyone is thinking of a way of holding blind tastings on Twitter, which would present a slightly more challenging situation for marketers. Given the speed with which the wine world is changing, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone is on it – and already Tweeting about it.