Across the United States, more and more people are drinking wine.
According to the Wine Institute, in 1993, Americans drank 1.74 gallons of wine per capita, and in 2013, that number had risen to 2.82 gallons. Recently, the United States overtook France as the number one wine-drinking country in the world. On average, Americans are drinking 16 bottles per year.
To keep up with the demand for information on wine, four companies based out of WeWork offices in New York and Boston—VinePair in Chelsea, Second Glass in South Station, Vinu in Soho West, and Wine & Co. in NoMad—have created products and services for every type of wine drinker.
VinePair, which launched a year and a half ago, is a website devoted to articles about all things wine, beer, and spirits-related. “We started with the desire to make alcohol less pretentious, intimidating, and anxiety-inducing,” says Adam Teeter, co-founder of the company. “We realized that no one was speaking to our generation in a voice that we understood, and in a way that was acceptable and fun.”
In the short time that VinePair has been online, it’s gained 1.2 million readers per month between the ages of 25 to 35. They’re mostly in urban areas, and a large percentage of them are female. “None of the traditional publications were ever female-leaning. We set out to make VinePair accessible for them, because females especially purchase more wine than other demographics,” Teeter says.
All the articles are explanatory and in-depth, because “we don’t assume you know anything about wine, beer, and spirits,” says Teeter. Recent posts include “How to Give the Perfect Bottle of Wine to Mark a Birth Year or Anniversary” and “Why Do We Put Vodka in the Freezer, But Not Whiskey?”
Eventually, according to Teeter, VinePair will become a media company and branch out into other areas like travel, real estate, cars, and business. As for now, they’re focusing on providing their audience with the most helpful information possible. “Our readers want a knowledge base when they have an interaction with the shopkeeper and the waiter,” he says.
Another company aiming to improve the waiter-customer interaction is Vinu, an interactive wine list for the iPad. Currently in 300 stand-alone restaurants and some cruise ships, the app lets guests answer a few questions, and then receive the best-matched wine selection.
Craig Saper, co-founder of Vinu, says he and his team established the company because, “We had a shared feeling in that collecting wine today is broken for all constituents, from the restaurant guests to consumers at retail stores to the retailers and dining establishments.”
When guests walk into a restaurant, they’re typically handed a long wine list or a book of available wines. “It has pages and pages of wines that are very hard to differentiate from one another,” says Saper. “You have to have a working knowledge of 12 different languages to be able to navigate the wine list.”
Now guests can easily choose the best-suited wine for them instead of picking one at random or spend time Googling every single type on the list. In addition, Saper says, it makes sommeliers’ lives easier too. They don’t have to print up new wine lists everyday, or attempt to explain the items on the list in detail.
Currently, at Second Glass events, that’s exactly what the highly trained and educated sommeliers are doing. Tyler Balliet, founder and president of the company, throws events for wine drinkers all throughout the country. About 13,000 people attended three of his Second Glass gatherings this last spring alone, and in the fall, there are more coming up in New York City, Chicago, and Boston.
At these events, attendees can download the mobile app, which will let them rate and jot down their favorite wines, as well as find stores that sell those wines. “We don’t just work with any winery,” says Balliet. “We hand pick them. We have every major style and grape from every major winery in the world. We make sure that every single region and grape is represented, and that the people who are pouring them know what they’re all about.”
Like Balliet, Constance Chamberlain, who founded her wine marketing business Wine & Co. in 2013, is contributing to wine education around the globe. She works with trade associations and smaller wineries, and creates content such as photos on Instagram of Austrian wines and a Tumblr dedicated to the wines of Alentejo. She’ll do whatever is needed, like copywriting, blog posting, social media strategy, and ad planning to get the word out there about these wineries and educate buyers.
“There are a lot of really knowledgeable people out there,” Chamberlain says. “The thing with wine is nobody knows it all. There is always something new to learn.”