Ever wondered about the interesting journey of your wine, as you swirl it and take in the fantastic aroma?
From grape to glass, science and technology perfectly blended with the winemakers’ artistry and passion to create the best flavor and lock in the aroma. Also resting within are the best kept secrets and wisps of triumph and history—a living narrative. Soon the bottle of wine embarked on a journey and traversed continents to be finally stored in the expanse of a deep and dark cellar. Yet, with all the excitement that lies within, surprisingly, the wine bottle oftentimes slips into oblivion even in a passionate wine lover’s prized collection.
Consider the case of Stephen Price, a private wine collector from Aspen, CO, who has more than 5,000 wines in his private collection, which includes a high-end selection of rare wines as well as mid-to-high cost new world wines.
Price frequently hosts business meetings and dinners, and it is the house chef who makes decisions on the wine to be purchased, stored, and paired with dinners. Four to five cases of wine are bought per month. Now, the problem is, neither Price nor the chef has any visibility into their wine inventory, the wine they drank, the ones to be purchased, or the wine most appropriate for each business or family occasion. The reliance on guesswork often resulted in expensive wines being used for wrong events and more wine being purchased when there were already enough crates in stock.
"eSommelier is an ally of the professional sommelier enabling them to do their job better"
Clearly, it was time to dig in and uncover the real story. The door to finding the right answers opened to eSommelier and proved to be the perfect tech ally for Price and thousands of other wine connoisseurs to trump all shortcomings. eSommelier’s cloud-based breakthrough technology simplifies wine management to help wine collectors know what wine they have, where it is stored, the best time to drink it, the purchase price, when and where it was purchased, and its current market valuation. So, it comes as no surprise that eSommelier is the perfect wine technology for thousands of collectors to keep their wine cellar organized, complementing their way of life, and allowing them to enjoy their wine.
“We go beyond organizing, cataloging, and inventory. It is all about the love of wine and the care needed to support and protect one’s prized possessions,” says Greg Rosner, customer success manager of eSommelier. eSommelier is a trusted guardian to help protect these precious, liquid assets.
A Tale with a Twist
Although the company’s initial focus was private wine collections, they were approached early on by organizations that needed help with wine inventory and management. Rosner recalls the request he received from Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts for bringing visibility into their wine inventory, which launched eSommelier as a problem solver for commercial establishments as well.
How the story unfolded at the Shangri-La Hotel, Paris is interesting. It was business as usual, with the guests enjoying every bit of the hotel’s hospitality. The food and beverage manager, was trying to understand his guests to serve them better, but something appeared to be odd. A guest came every week, bought bottles of wine, and left, and that seemed a little strange. He decided to unravel the mystery.
A detailed analysis that involved many hours of manual tracking and sifting through Excel spreadsheets unearthed a twist in the tale. The Château Haut-Brion was being sold a good $1,000 below its worth in the market, and the guest was happy to buy the underpriced wine. The hotel was moving wine from one location to another and could not track the movement, had no clue of the inventory and the final appreciated market value of the wine. With an investment to the tune of $30 million in wine, they had a burning issue at hand. “Wine, unlike other food and beverage assets, is an appreciating asset,” says Rosner. With eSommelier coming into the picture, the problem was deftly resolved. Their solution provided the hotel with all the right answers to streamline operations and boost profitability.
Since 2003, eSommelier’s simple wine cellar management system has been helping hospitality organizations and private wine collectors to organize better and take control of their liquid assets. eSommelier provides a unified solution, which comes with a touchscreen, barcode scanner, and barcode printer, fully integrated with the software and ready to use, right out of the box. The system has to be placed either in the cellar or where the wine is stored and acts as a check-in and check-out kiosk to track its movement. Once the plug-and-play proprietary system is connected to the internet, a user can log in and access the system through any device from anywhere, run reports, and gain business intelligence on all the wine that has entered and dispatched from their wine cellar. A food and beverage manager can easily know the wines that were sold the most or the least, among other BI metrics. A private collector on vacation in Napa can log in to his iPad, remotely view his wine collection, and easily ascertain what he has to buy or sell.
The Aesthetic Edge
“A big part of our DNA that contributes to our leadership in the wine tech space is our emphasis on design aesthetics to create products that are beautiful inside and out,” points out Rosner. Design excellence is the hallmark of the eSommelier system contained in a hand-crafted oak case that matches the grandeur of a crate of fine wine. The case houses the touchscreen, printer, and scanner, concealing the unsightly cords, connectors, and power supply while wine collectors have a pride of ownership and a user experience that is pleasing and intuitive.
What also makes eSommelier a cut above the rest is unlike other software used by hotels to track a host of items, wine is very specific.
It has a lot of attributes in terms of the region, country, variety, age, ready to drink, or just past prime. “Wine is a living, breathing entity. All the information associated with wine is tracked in our system, and it provides skews and catalog for every known wine on the planet,” adds Rosner.
Driven by an indomitable spirit of innovation, the company is expanding its partnership with top wine buyers, sellers, and reviewer organizations to develop a comprehensive dashboard view of information that could previously be only gleaned from different systems. Rosner draws attention to an element that is often missed with wine management software—the importance of story. A bottle of wine is more than just an inventory SKU. There is an emotional component associated with wine, which is supported by the pantheon of highly respected wine critics. Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast, Burghound, and Vinous are tastemakers and storytellers in the world of wine. When a wine is entered into the eSommelier system, the database automatically populates with reviews, tasting notes, ratings, and drink by dates from these sources. “Selecting a wine can then be informed by their poetic descriptions and recommendations on when a wine is best to drink,” remarks Rosner. The added perk of eSommelier is the solid support provided to customers long after the purchase. On an equal footing, the eSommelier team welcomes customer feedback and leaves no stone unturned to resolve every demand with solutions that are practical and reliable.
eSommelier offers a financial component as well. The ratings from these critics have an observable influence on market pricing for wine, in the same way that a piece of news causes a stock price to rise or fall. Serious collectors and curators of wine require the influential data of the master critics at their fingertips.
An Exciting Preview
eSommelier plans to add an artificial intelligence layer to its wine technology to provide users with insight into trends and patterns and deliver notifications and recommendations based on usage and patterns. Just as music and movie streaming services suggest content that a user may enjoy, the AI algorithm will analyze a collection and suggest wines that might appeal to a customer’s palate. “For those who prefer a more human touch, we also offer personal recommendations curated by a master sommelier,” adds Rosner.
The company is also adding a wine marketplace to their system. Every wine collector has wine they would like to sell or buy. eSommelier will serve as an “eBay” for rare and exclusive wines, where customers can buy, sell, and trade with each other. On the cards are plans to offer a new wine tech solution to tackle the problem of wine counterfeiting.
In a nutshell, akin to a sommelier providing advice, recommendations, and counsel, eSommelier is an electronic version that enables people to enjoy their wine collection, and restaurants and hotels to manage their inventory better. “eSommelier is an ally of the professional sommelier enabling them to do their job better,” concludes Rosner.