jamie goode's wine blog: Social media encounter: the L'Anima wine list challenge

Monday, August 24, 2009

Social media encounter: the L'Anima wine list challenge

I took part in a social media experiment today. Before you all groan and close your browser windows in desperation, let me explain what this was about.

It was an initiative by high-end Italian restaurant L'Anima to engage with the wine twitter/blogger community to help shape their wine list. The official spiel is:

On Monday, August 24th 2009 the select group of wine enthusiasts will taste and rate a selection of wines (click here to see the full list) – and probably share a lot of thoughts, pictures and video via twitter (check it out between 3pm and 5pm on Monday). Unfortunately, these wine enthusiasts rarely agree with each other. So, the three most contentious categories will be put to a public vote, via this site for YOU
to vote on. Tasters will be:

Gal Zohar (@zoharwine)
Dan Coward (@bibendumwine)
Jamie Goode http://twitter.com/jamiegoode)
Douglas Blyde (@douglas_blyde)
Anthony Rose (@antrose33)
Denise Medrano (@thewinesleuth)

All we ask is that you watch each team’s short video explaining why you should support their choices, and then give us your vote. The winning selections will then be listed in the restaurant. Simple and fair.

So we tasted through five flights, each of three candidates, and then were paired in teams to present our opinions on the three most contentious categories. As I write, the videos still aren't online, which takes a bit of the immediacy away from the whole venture. But when they are, do take a look and make your vote. You stand to win a bottle of each of the winners, so it's probably worth it.

So, a question. Do you feel this is a useful experiment, or just a gimmick?
[Pictured above: Anthony, Gal and Douglas.]

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At 11:51 PM, Anonymous Robert McIntosh said...

I've finally got the videos up! Took a little longer than expected, but you can see the list here:


At 5:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems bonkers for a whole host of reasons.
1. L'Anima employ a sommelier already. Isn't he meant to make these decisions?
2. Does tasting by committee ever give a sense of direction?
3. How can viewers assess a wine by watching a video? They are surely just assessing the assessors.
4. Did the judgements take account of price/value for money? I saw a 2005(!) Barbaresco in the mix with some older vintages of Nebbiolo. Is it even worth comparing?
5. Why is there someone from Bibendum there when there are Bibendum wines being shown?

A great wine list is not about slotting wines in categories. It is about creating something unified and intelligent which reflects the palate of the person who has assembled it. The chef for L'Anima doesn't put his food menu out to critical or public approval but presumably cooks from the heart. A wine list is not a gimmick but a statement of what you are and what you like and what goes with the food.

At 6:06 AM, Blogger Michael said...

did any of the tasters bother to take a look at the menu?

At 8:36 AM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

If they really wanted punters to have a say, they'd offer a deal on corkage.

Having said that, I think it's a reasonably fun idea. Not to be taken seriously, but useful as a way to find out how much interest there is in this kind of thing.

I agree with most of the criticisms here and am unsure about how it all fits with L'Anima's desire to be taken seriously.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger Robert McIntosh said...

I don't want to hijack Jamie's blog but would like to respond to a some criticisms for the record.

L'Anima's sommelier has already selected 220 of the 223 wines on the list and will continue to do so. He pre-selected 18 wines to be tasted, and invited serious tasters to review these choices. The public are given a chance to hear some of the descriptions and see the passion of these tasters, and vote accordingly.

This is about involving the public in a small way in a process usually completely hidden from them. It is not about giving over the list to decisions by committee.

"Serious" wine drinkers often complain that restaurants do not do enough to list interesting wines, and that most consumers don't bother trying them, so why criticise one particular restaurant (with clear credentials) for doing something to change that?

Think of it as a fun documentary about wine, those involved are not trying to revolutionise wine buying, and I think L'Anima should be thanked for getting people talking about wine lists for something other than price, don't you?

I would also like to thank Jamie for really entering into the spirit of the event. Maybe more of his blog readers who trust his judgement should be voting for his choices and checking out L'Anima for themselves.

At 12:46 PM, Blogger zoharwine said...

Just a few short comments, to the commentours... I appreciate the comments of what a good wine list is all about but did you bother looking at the list at all? If you would then you will surely discover that it is diverse and quite different than your usual PG/Gavi type. We pride ourselves in trying to introduce different regions/varieties/flavours. I will also add that a wine list should reflect the palate of its creator but this is only a certain aspect of it. One must not forget that taste is personal and a wine list should give answers to all palates. The chef does cook from his heart but he also puts his food menu out to critical approval on a daily basis. If a dish doesn't work then he will respond to the critics and change it.Finally - of course we take L'Anima seriously and hope our customers do as well. But one should never take oneself too seriously and we shouldn't forget that at the end of the day it's all about pleasure, even if for some of us it's work.

At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Alex Lake said...

Still not sure about video as a medium for this kind of thing. I took a quick look at some of the video, but found it hard to hear what they were saying and the style was clearly amateurish (colour, sound, camera-work). Unfortunately, that means you've lost me as a viewer within 30 seconds. I do understand that this is Web 2.0 where one tries to allow everyone to have their say, but it just does my head in! I'm wondering if being more professional about the presentation (including proper lighting, tripods, microphones and maybe even makeup) would be worthwhile, or if there's a better way to fuse the media together. Maybe a main skeleton of text with links to small video snippets would work better?

Also would suggest that you try to make more of the food connection - i.e. which of these three wines go best with this particular dish.

Lest this is taken as negativity, I do think the idea itself has potential, but needs work to become worthwhile.

Oh, and I'd add that I rarely see wine videos that work. Jamie's are brave efforts, but are still surpassed by his written work. That naked woman has an interesting angle on it and there's that mad American guy who probably gets the closest.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a ridiculous gimmick.

Here's how some restaurants do it instead. Get the suppliers to submit wines in various categories. Taste them and weed out the weakest examples. Then allow your real customers during the course of the next service to taste them with their food (surely the best way of trying wines) and get their feedback.

You're not judging a video, you're judging the wine. Get real...


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