Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk | AspenTimes.com

Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. Hayes
Aspen Times Weekly

At the beginning of this decade, or the turn of the century as we like to call it, Google was in the seminal stages of its development. Larry Page and Sergey Brin had secured financing and soon the most powerful research tool in the history of man (and wine) would transform how we get our information.

Seven years later in January 2007, Apple launched the iPhone and suddenly the ability to access Google without being tethered to a personal computer became a reality.

These two innovations have changed the way that I, as a wine writer, find out about wines. Back in the old days – think 1999 – if you wanted to know about the wines of say, Puglia, you either had to search deep on the web with some sort of advance knowledge of what you were looking for, or consult one of those quaint things called books.

Today, if I am in a taxi cab in New York heading for the latest and greatest Italian restaurant and I am thinking about having a wine from the heel of Italy’s boot, I merely have to enter “Wines of Puglia” in the Google search on my iPhone and somewhere in the neighborhood of 862,000 different sources of information about this fairly obscure wine region will be available to me. In fact, with my Google voice app, I simply have to say “Wines of Puglia” and the database loads.

I can learn about the Malvasia and Primitivo grapes, I can get a history of the region, I can find out about the region’s DOCs and I can get a list of recommendations of the area’s best producers. I can even find out prices for some of the wines before I reach the restaurant.

And, as the decade has gone on and we have all become so much more advanced in our digital communications, wine makers have benefited greatly. Nearly every region of the wine world has a comprehensive website. Nearly every winery has a home page to tell us all we would ever want to know about soil compositions, harvest dates, blending percentages and more.

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True, in wine, information is only a small part of the story. To really know a region, to really know a wine, one needs to experience it, to smell it, to feel it, to taste it. And, to date, fortunately we have not achieved a digital application that will allow us to do all of those things without actually opening a bottle and pouring a glass.

But make no mistake, information technology has allowed us to learn much more about wine and the places where wine comes from than we ever thought possible just a decade ago.

As we move into the New Year I am going to use some of this technology to catalogue and collate much of the information that I receive about wine. While some collect wines for their cellars to drink in the future, I intend to create a “virtual” cellar of the wines I have consumed in the past.

My plan is to create my own personal database of wine experiences. To start, I plan to use my iPhone, which is now nearly always handy, to photograph every bottle of wine I drink, enter the photos into a self-created log and add tasting notes, general information on the wines and thoughts about the people that I was with while drinking the bottle. The goal is to learn as much about each bottle as possible and to expand my wine-tasting universe with each entry.

At this time next year I hope to have the means to fully review both the wines that I have drunk and the joy that I have received from them.

If you Google the words “Wine Log” more than 2 million options appear. If you search for the same on iPhone apps, there are considerably fewer, just five. So while my concept may not be wholly original I look forward to creating my own template and, of course, to drinking as many wines as possible.

After all, it is one of the joys of the digital age.

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