Will computers eventually replace wine experts?

As technology continues to improve, websites or apps can now suggest wines to you based on your preferences or food choices. Does this mean that we will no longer need sommeliers, retailers or wine experts generally to help you decided on what wine to pick?

I’ve been thinking about wine apps recently: there are a lot of really clever things out there. From ones that will collate user reviews, show you where to buy wine, and those that actually recommend wines to you, it is now easier than ever to find lots of information to help you make your wine choices. I won’t go into detail here on the technical stuff here, but there are many reviews available online.

So where does this leave your friendly wine experts? Are we in danger of becoming redundant with this much free knowledge around?

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What I have reasoned is that actually, no, we (fortunately) cannot be replaced. Tasting wine is a personal, subjective, sensory experience and while algorithms may be able to tell you what you ‘should’ like or what ‘should’ match, this doesn’t take into account all the subtle differences in peoples taste, and the differences in wine styles. And not only that but wine is also best as part of a social experience. Wine tastings in particular are so much more enjoyable with several people who can all express their individual views.

And at the end of the day, nothing can help you figure out which wine you will like, more than practice! Learning how to taste wine, identify what it is you like and why, is something that you can’t figure out just by reading about it. Having someone who can talk you through step by step, tasting the same wine, and describing the different parts of the structure and what it is that makes the wine taste like it does is pretty much something that has to be done in person.

Developing your own palate is something that has to be done in practice- tasting various wines, understanding what makes them taste like that, and fitting that in with your previous knowledge will very quickly help build a broad understanding of wine, and help you work out your preferences. And let’s face it, it’s quite fun as well! Although this does take time, and a bit of dedication. So while you are trying to fill in the gaps in your own knowledge, these apps are great to help you make a more informed choice.

So now that I can rest easy in the knowledge that I’m not going to be replaced by a wine tasting machine just yet, and look forward to helping more people discover more about wine.

And for anyone interested in finding out more about the tastings I do, you can find all the information here.

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