Bot Meets Brain

Buy Better Wine With This Sommelier-Approved Algorithm


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“I think that all around the country, smart, interested people are buying whatever’s cold at the wine store because they can’t decipher the sometimes confusing descriptors, varietals and wine jargon,” said Dustin Wilson — star of hit documentary Somm, and just one of 230 Master Sommeliers worldwide — of the impetus for his latest venture, Verve Wine, which launches today.

Backed by the brain and palate of a Master Sommelier, Verve Wine cuts through abstract descriptions in order to make buying (and understanding) wine less daunting.

Helmed by Wilson, who previously served as wine director of Eleven Madison Park, and wine merchant Derrick Mize, Verve caters to the clueless just as much as the connoisseur, with prices ranging from a palatable $15 to $2,000 cellar investments. The bulk of Verve’s bottles hail from Italy and France, with a smattering of American wines — all of which have been personally vetted by the Verve team.

Unlike most online wine communities and stores, which filter by flavor profile and country of origin, Verve curates bottles according to concrete experiences, from holiday parties to menu items like Coq au Vin or fried chicken. According to Wilson, today’s launch is just the start. Come January, Verve will introduce an algorithm to suggest wines based on personal preferences and previous purchases, placing emphasis on discovery and enabling customers to select unfamiliar varietals with confidence.

In addition to its digital arm, Verve opened a brick and mortar shop in New York City in November. Staffed by six certified sommeliers, the Tribeca outpost offers one-on-one consultations and suggests bottles to customers accordingly, echoing Verve’s discovery-first, recommendation-driven experience in real life.

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