Friday, March 5, 2010

Twitter Wine Tastings - Different Models

Picture: Twitter Wine Tasting

Twitter Wine Tastings are becoming increasingly popular. They can take different forms, but the common denominator of all the tastings I have participated in is that you do no open your mouth and say what you want to say, but you tweet it.

Critical for any twitter wine tasting is that somebody has to establish a twitter wall with a specific hashtag. Without knowing the hashtag, which has to be included in all tweets, you cannot participate. The hashtag always begins with a # and is #twv (Twitter Wein Verkostung) for the twitter wine tastings that are being organized in Germany.

Global Twitter Wine Tasting with Rick Bakas

Yesterday, I participated in a global Sauvignon Blanc twitter wine tasting. It was organized by Rick Bakas, Director of Social Media for @StSupery winery, in California, but the invitation was worldwide, to consumers and producers of Sauvignon Blanc anywhere in the world. Rick describes how his twitter wine tasting works here.

I tasted a Graves, France, the largest producer of Sauvignon Blanc, and sent my tweets from McLean, Virginia. I noticed, that Patrick Johner, from the producer side, participated in the tasting, as well as Philipp Erik Breidenfeld, a German wine blogger (lagazettadelvino). For them, it was between 2am and 4am in the morning, the next day.

This was really a global event, with consumers and a few producers (at least one, Patrick Johner) from around the globe participating. But it was not really interactive. With so many different wines in the glasses of all the participants all over the globe, the tweets went all over the place. Over a period of 2 hours, 2000 tweets were sent by nearly 500 people. The whole thing was as far as I am concerned very chaotic and not worth the effort. It was a one way street. There was very little interaction, but there was some. I, for example, had some bi-lateral contacts with other tweeters. But overall, everyone was sending out tweets that were largely unrelated, except that they were dealing in one form or another with the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc.

Rick has scheduled the next tastings on wine blends for April 1, and on Chardonnay for May 6.


I have participated in a similar event that was much more useful as it was well focused. It was organized by at the initiative of Winesofgermany had selected a few German wines before hand, which one could order and taste at home during the twitter wine tasting. TasteLive had a moderator, a well known wine blogger, who was orchestrating the whole tasting and tweeting process.

Everyone was tweeting about the same wine and moved ahead with the same speed. There was lots of inter-action, including questions, answers and comments. Of course, we were all drinking the same wines.

Traditional Wine Tasting Cum Twitter

I have seen twitter being used for traditional walk-around wine tastings, where you have winemakers or retailers behind a table with their wines and you walk from table to table and taste the wines. These tastings can usefully be complemented with a tweet wall projected on a screen or on several screens where participants can share their observations with the other tasters who walking around the room. That allows for some multi-lateral dialogue between the various participants.

Johner Twitter cum and Skype Tasting

The most stunning twitter tasting I have experienced so far was one organized by Patrick Johner, the co-owner and winemaker of the Weingut Johner in Germany and the Johner Estate in New Zealand. It was a twitter wine tasting, combined with live broadcasting:

(a) only one wine was tasted. Everyone tweeted about the same wine.

(b) it was a combined twitter, and Skype operation, not just tweets, but tweets cum video live streams.

(c) it had an able moderator, Patrick Johner in the office of his winery in Baden, Germany, behind a monitor and with a head set on his head. He was orchestrating the whole show and broadcasting through

Picture: Patrick Johner in Germany and Karl H. Johner in New Zealand

(d) Patrick was connected via Skype with his father Karl H. Johner in New Zealand, who was also on-line. During the show, with his lap –top, connected to via Skype , Karl H. Johner was first walking in the vineyard showing us the grapes, then showing us his cellar and finally also drinking the wine, while commenting on questions and remarks. Amazing pictures!

(e) it was highly inter-active. Many of the viewers had ordered the wine before the show and were tasting with Patrick Johner and his father the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. The viewers were watching and hearing the father in New Zealand in one window of the screen and Patrick in Baden in another window. Next to the window on, there was a box to send text messages. But most viewers used their twitter account. They were all in their twitter accounts and sending out notes and questions via twitter with the hashtag #twv. We were all reading the tweets, including Patrick Johner. He would select the more interesting ones and share them with his father. Then, his father would answer from New Zealand or Patrick would answer from Germany.

I must say I found it fascinating to taste the wine and then be able to interact with the wine maker who himself was moving around in the vineyard and wine cellar, where the wine was made, many thousand miles away from me. The Twitter/Skype/ set up allowed an intensive dialog with the winemakers on the wine and any other question. You just had to tweet it.

Smile2 Tasting with Hendrik Thoma

A scaled down version of the Johner twitter tasting cum and Skype was Hendrik Thoma’s Smile2 twitter tasting a few weeks ago. In fact, it was more a real-time wine video which provided for inter-action with Hendrik Thoma via twitter. Hendrik Thoma did a real-time wine tasting and presentation and you were able to send text messages to Hendrik. Hendrik would read them and comment on them in his broadcast. You could watch Hendrik with his head set and the very helpful power point slides he had prepared for the show. He would react to the text messages, when the tweets came.

Schiller Wine - Related Postings

Germany's wine makers and twitter

Wine and Web 2.0 in Germany

Wine Tasting: Twitter Wine Tasting


  1. I would like to participate in one of the next ones...

  2. Really interesting summary of some differing styles of Twitter tastings. I agree with you about the recent SauvBlanc tasting. It was quite chaotic, with people tweeting all over the place, and limited real interaction taking place. This is exactly the kind of event that I think people will get burned out on. It seems like smoke than fire, with a long period of build up and then little pay-off at the end. I would be quite interested in participating in events more along the lines of the other styles that you mention.

  3. I think I'll play the other side of the coin on this argument against the mass taste and tweet. For the same reasons some people don't participate in TTL, there are going to be reasons people don't participate in mass tastings. The beauty is, the world is big enough for both (or all kinds as mentioned in this post). There are different strokes for different folks.

    The SauvBlanc and upcoming events work as a launch pad for wineries to get people INTO their tasting room AND to participate online. There is also some phenomenal data mining and analysis that can be done with the tweet archive.

    YES, it's chaos, but it's a celebration of wine that moves beyond the blogging community and into the real world wine consumer.

    Thanks for your insights Christian.

    Josh (@nectarwine on Twitter)