Brilliance in a Wine Glass: Wine Business Innovation Summit Awards

Here is “smart” glass for tracking your tastings at wine events. It silently notes the tables where you have tasted wines so there’s with no fear of forgetting the name of a wine or a brand. All without taking notes on paper, or on a mobile device. Personally, I hope to see this glass very soon at all important wine exhibitions…

Confused? Ok, let’s take a step back.

WBISSome weeks ago, the second Wine Business Innovation Summit was held in Munich, Germany. WBIS is a conference organized by the three consultants in the wine world: Faye Cardwell, Jens De Maere and Marc Roisin. Their aim is to create an atmosphere in which participants can showcase projects, foster new collaborations and develop business opportunities. Here, the very active on-line wine community meets more traditional players in the wine sector from all markets across Europe.  The event was hugely successful, thanks to an intensive two-day program, including twelve seminar sessions and wine tastings (sponsored by Bordeaux & Bordeaux Superieur and Wines of Germany).

One the best parts of the conference, though, was the “WBIS Business Award,” a competition for new ideas and projects in the wine business. Initially, there were 24 startups but this was quickly winnowed down to eight finalists. The prize was very attractive: a week of coaching in Bordeaux at 33 Entrepreneurs, the world’s first Accelerator for wine startups.

On the second and last day of the WBIS, the finalists presented their concepts to the attendees, in front of a jury of wine business experts. Eventually, three of these concepts received awards: one from France and two from Portugal. The French project is Wine Data System  with apps and software for the wine trade. One of the two Portuguese finalists is the brand Wine and Spirit which is a new approach to the labeling of wine bottles, where consumers buy wine according to the occasion when they will drink it – or even according to their emotion at the moment.  There are bottles with labels like “Dine with Me Tonight” or “I’m in Love” but also the intriguingly-labeled “Carpe Noctem Voyeur” [look it up] and the evocative “Bastard.”

Up to here — I want to be completely honest — nothing was really, definitely new. We could appreciate the laudable attempts of “lateral thinking” expressed by most of the startups, but they consisted mainly of alternative ways of selling wine online, or of reaching new consumers through new packaging.

Screen Shot 2014-02-26 at 8.35.53 AMNo, the novelty definitely appeared only in the second Portuguese project, which won the competition: the Smart Wine Glass, a simple but brilliant system for improving any wine tasting experience. It was submitted by André Ribeirinho wo is an entrepreneur, a Port wine Ambassador, a travel, wine and food blogger and Chief Wine Evangelist at . To understand the concept, think about being a current wine consumer: you go to a wine tasting and taste ten wines or more and interact with five wine producers. But later, if you did not take notes, you go home and forget everything. The Smart Wine Glass could be the solution to this problem. “Our team has been looking into improving wine events for a few years now, and we’ve been wanting to get technology to help us do that,” André explained. “Recently, one of us, Daniel Matos, had the right idea and we implemented a prototype of a Smart Wine Glass that would help people easily collect information on tasted wines and visited tables at any wine event.”

Do you need a specific glass? I asked him.

“No, any wine glass will work fine with our technology. In the current version, we just basically need to apply an NFC tag to each wine glass we use. However, at the moment we’re also testing a few prototypes to integrate the technology directly in the process of creating the glass.”

Do you think that this glass can be really helpful for both wineries and consumers, or only for one group?

“The Smart Wine Glass can be very useful not only for wineries, but also for consumers and other wine professionals. We’re already developing at least three projects where different people get the benefits of using our technology. Consumers get to use it at consumer wine events, wineries can provide more information to wine lovers in their private tastings and finally event organizers can make their events better by using this technology.”

Tell me more, please: how does this glass work?

“Every glass has an electronic chip, and every table at the tasting event has a sensor. When the consumer swipes their wineglass on the sensor, it is recorded. Later, the consumers can receive an email with the key information like the visited brands, the wines tasted, and where to buy them.”

What about the reaction of the people at wine events where you tested the Smart Wine Glass? Are you satisfied of your experiment?

“We’re very happy with the reaction to our project. We’ve been getting excellent feedback, including great ideas on how we can extend our initial project and make it useful in many other situations.”

At the WBIS conference, André Ribeirinho didn’t bring a model of his glass; we saw only a presentation with a few slides about it.  However, in the next few weeks he and his team will go to Bordeaux to study how to develop the concept most effectively. And I bet that very soon we’ll see these glasses all over wine exhibitions and wine tastings. Maybe a new, small (very helpful) revolution is coming.