Wine Review Rescue

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winebottles.jpgBy Courtney Cochran

Hold on to your hats, folks – wine online just got a whole lot more interesting.

I’m talking about Nirvino (nirvino.com), the brand new wine rating and social networking site started late last year by a couple of guys whose serious wine habit is clearly matched by some seriously stellar software programming skills.  The unprecedented service – which aggregates wine reviews from the likes of Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle into a single score – is a boon for anyone who’s ever agonized over a wine purchase, wondering whether the critics deemed it quaffable
Besides aggregating so-called “expert” wine reviews, Nirvino allows users themselves to create profiles and rate the wines they’re drinking.  This nod to the “user review” phenomenon that’s taken off in recent years along with the popularity of sites like Yelp.com, where anyone can review restaurants, stores and services, perfectly captures the spirit of the new blended model of online appraisal, where the opinions of experts and regular folks are awarded equal footing.  In synch with this model, Nirvino users are encouraged – à la MySpace – to accumulate friends (dubbed “drinking buddies” on the site) with whom they share and compare reviews.  And with more than 750,000 wines in the system, there’s no shortage of vintages to share and compare.

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Clearly not content to just stick with the web-based model, Nirvino recently announced the impending launch of “Nirvino To Go,” a mobile application that will allow users to access reviews and rate wines anywhere, anytime from their PDAs.  Very interesting.