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Google Gets into the Wine Club Business

a_toast_with_red_wineReally. They are. Well, kind of. You may be aware that the tiny internet startup called Google purchased ZAGAT earlier this month. ZAGAT, which calls itself “the most trusted source for restaurant reviews,” now wants to be your most trusted source for wine. I know this because my email inbox told me today that ZAGAT has started a “wine club.”

It’s a club in the sense that you and a bunch of other people you’ve never met and may having nothing in common with, other than the willingness to spend $150 four times per year on wine that you didn’t choose, will be doing just that simultaneously but separately. So, it’s a club for people who trust ZAGATs trust in Tony Laithwaite who has been hired to choose the wine. And if Google trusts ZAGAT to trust Tony, shouldn’t you? My UrbanDaddy told me to. There’s no word on a t-shirt or secret handshake.

Here’s the landing page for ZAGATWine, via UrbanDaddy. It has more info on the “club” which I neither encourage nor discourage (well, maybe a little) you to join. My take on deals like this is that they may, or may not, offer some good values. But the person (okay, the Tony) choosing the wines doesn’t know anything about the most important person in the operation — you.

Tony Laithewaite (Google him.) is no lightweight when it comes to wine. But only giving you a choice between red, white or mixed cases doesn’t really help him suit your taste. It’s like going to a restaurant where you know nothing about the cuisine and being told your only choice is between hot food or cold. Everything else will be decided for you by the kitchen. How would ZAGAT would rate that restaurant?

To it's credit, ZAGATWine does let you see, in advance of shipment, what you'll be getting. "You're free to delay delivery, skip cases or cancel at any time."

Winery clubs make a lot more sense to me. You know who is making the wine, the range of things they offer and can taste some of the wines in advance. Another option is to go to your favorite wine shop and ask them to put together a mixed case of wines you’ve never tried, but based on your personal preferences. You can tell them what you like if they don’t already know. (If you don’t have a favorite wine shop, you should really fix that.)

What wine have you tried lately for the first time and really, really liked? I’m salivating over 2002 Coeur de Cuvee from Vilmart & Cie, a vintage Champagne.

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This article is original to NorCalWine.com. Copyright 2011 NorCal Wine. Photo by webphotographeer. All rights reserved.