Big Data and Booze — BeverageGrades® Website

Move over wine experts – a new approach to wine information

If you’re the average wine buyer you probably find yourself staring at the shelf to make a selection. Maybe you look at the ratings from Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast. Perhaps you select by the attractiveness of the label. Or, you rely on the wine mavens and their recommendations.

Concerning the latter, a number of experiments with wine aficionados and their ratings suggest that they are more subjective than objective. (Check out Chapter One of Think Like a Freak by Levitt and Dubner, their latest book on practical economics.)

I recently came across an article entitled, “Wine tasting is BS. Here’s Why.” The author cites a number of reasons for this judgment including – Wine experts contradict themselves; we taste with our eyes, not our mouths; and, based on a 2008 survey, that concluded with “both the prices of wines and wine recommendations by experts may be poor guides for non-expert wine consumers.”

Introducing BeverageGrades® Website



This is a new venture developed and owned by Kevin Hicks (a former distributor) and Kevin Byrnes (an internet expert). Their website describes them as “the only resource for ‘objective’ wine, beer and spirits ratings and health & nutrition information.” You can find it here.

They claim to have the world’s largest database of wines, spirits and beer. (Although, the information they provide currently is only for wine; the other categories are in development.) I gotta tell you – it’s very cool.

First, they have conducted lab tests for all relevant flavor and aroma compounds as well as – are you ready – nutritional information including calories, sugar, pesticides, preservatives, heavy metals and antioxidants.

What happens is, you enter the criteria, wine type, region, varietal, price range, brands and you get an analysis of the wines that fit the information you entered. The brands that come up detail flavors, aromas, a Beverage Grade rating, and the average price, among other information.

The BeverageGrade system

But wait, that ain’t all

They have a feature they call Copy Cat® which, “Using science and technology, our data helps you find very similar (and often identical) tasting wines for a fraction of the price.” Nice. In the example I tried, a 2008 Jordan Cabernet at $46.98 was a 97% match with a Simi Cabernet at $18.75. They describe the match as “tiny differences detected.” They even provide what their analysis suggests is the “true” price for all wines in the database.

The site should become even more interesting when they turn their attention to beer and spirits. In effect, they have preempted the government and nutritional ratings for alcohol products.

Oh and by the way, their ratings are based on objective criteria.

But wait a minute… Does relying on the information from BeverageGrade mean I won’t be reading such interesting reviews as this?

A nose of melted plastic, burnt toast and deck shoes worn without socks, this one is a true gift. Every sip brings reminisces of sun tanning after a morning of mosquito bites and family conflict. Great for tonight as an accompaniment for anxiety and an uncertain future plus goes remarkably well with the movie Scarface. What are you waiting for? Say hello to your little friend.

Just as well.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Do you have any idea?
Do you have any idea?


Continue Reading

Stop and Smell the Rosé

The Much Maligned Rosé

I was visiting some liquor stores and wine shops recently and noticed lots of displays featuring rosé wines, which I love. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about rosé and, frankly neither did the salespeople I spoke with.

In fact, as I pursued trying to increase my knowledge, the so-called mavens I know weren’t that helpful either.

So, here I am, a wine drinker who loves rosé and I’m surrounded by myths and misinformation.

I set out to rectify the situation and here’s what I’ve learned so far.

(Feel free to chime in with comments or send me an email.)


Nielsen Data. Sales of imported rosé table wines.
Nielsen Data. Sales of imported rosé table wines.

I learned that I’m not alone in my preference and adoration of rosé. The most recent data I saw indicated that imported rosé sales are growing sharply. In fact, an article in the May 5th Examiner has this to say:

“While drinking pink wine (at least publicly) was previously relegated to newbies quaffing White Zinfandel and other sweet blush wines, today’s rosés run the gamut in hue and are primarily dry in style. With a decade of growth in the U.S. market, rosé continues to be one of the U.S.’s fastest growing wine categories in retail sales; the message is clear: Rosé is here to stay.”

So there… I am not alone. I also will bet that like me, drinking rosé goes beyond just the summer, picnics and barbeques. Those of you who sass rosé can just stick it you-know-where. (Hint – it rimes with sass.)

Myth: Mixing red and white wine together is how you make rosé.

Ha. If you believe this then please leave this blog.

Lightly crushing red grapes and macerating the liquid with the skins for a period of time makes rosé. The juice is strained from the solid stuff to create a “must” which is then fermented in tanks.

The longer the grapes’ skins are left sitting in the wine, the darker the color. That’s why there are many shades of rosé.

Rosé wine colors --depending on how long the skins are left in the wine.
Rosé wine colors –depending on how long the skins are left in the wine.

Other Factoids

I came across an interesting article on Buzzfeed about rosé with some interesting “things you need to know.”

Such as:

Rosé can come from anywhere in the world but generally old world rosé will usually be drier and new world rosé might be less dry. While I love all types of rosé, I’m especially fond of those from Provence, France.

With rosé the newest vintage is the freshest so don’t be skittish about drinking it young. You won’t find anything dated more than two or three years ago and, forget about hoarding it in your cellar. Rosé is meant to be consumed young and that’s reflected in the price, which means there are great options in the $15 range.

Oh, and finally, about barbeques…while rosé is not meant only for those events, it is great with food you grill outdoors.

There you have it, a layperson’s learning about rosé. I have to tell you that writing this post has made me very thirsty. Also, I intend to scour the Internet for rosé tasting events.

Do you know any?

Stay tuned.

A glass of rosé and a sunset. What could be better?


Continue Reading