Drinking To The Web

Posted by Kim Lau on Thursday, September 13th, 2007. Filed under: Uncategorized

Alcohol is all about socializing, which makes it the perfect experimental playground for Internet junkies and drunkards. There are all sorts of tools for finding the perfect wine, keeping in touch with other fans of your favorite beers, or mixing the perfect cocktails to show off for your next party. I believe that as with food, alcohol, in all its forms, is something to be savored, and should be uncomplicated and enjoyable. Alcohol is one part of adult life that is all about having fun! So read on for the sites I found to be the most rewarding:

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Extratasty is a social site for sharing cocktail recipes. You can manage your own virtual bar, create your own cocktails, rate other people’s recipes, adjust measurements, blog your favorites or send them to your phone and iPod. It’s one of the cutest, fun sites around. I love the colorful, very non-web 2.0 design, that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a good resource to have at your next party; the only missing feature is the ability to upload photos of the cocktails you’ve created.

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Cocktailbuilder is another site for sharing cocktail recipes, although it doesn’t require registration at all for you to get the most out of it. Just enter the ingredients you have on hand, then click search, and a list of suggested cocktails will pop up, which you can then enter into your bar menu. You can also rate the cocktails and add your own recipes to the site. It’s a fun alternative if you’re suffering from a bit of social network fatigue and just want a quick, reliable resource for drinks.

Wine consumption is definitely getting more popular, and social networks are popping out all over the place to serve your needs – what do you like, what are your tastes, and where are you going to get your next bottle from? As anyone who has any sort of interest in wine knows, learning about wine can be a daunting and overwhelming hobby and is often full of seemingly contradictory information. The following sites take some of the work out of learning about wine:

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WineLog is a social network for wine drinkers. You can rate and review wines, track the wines you have and the wines you want, and print out those lists in different formats. You can add tasting notes and get wine recommendations based on the wines you rated. One of the features that I think has potential is the “Groups” feature, although to set one up, you have to go through the cumbersome step of contacting the site owners. It would be more fun, I think, to allow the registered users to create their own groups around their favorite wines and/or wineries. Overall, this is a very comprehensive site that would fulfill the average wine aficionado’s needs.

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Cork’d is one of the first social sites for wine drinkers. Similar to WineLog, you can rate, review, track wines, and export your lists in different formats. You can get recommendations from your “drinking buddies”, and add lists to your blog so that your readers can follow along with what you’ve been drinking. One of the features that differentiates Cork’d from other wine network sites is that the wines are rated on a 100-point scale, just like wine professionals do. One of the issues arising from this is that most users don’t really know how the 100-point scale works – in wine circles, a score of 75 and below is terrible wine. I saw one wine where the user raved about the wine, but gave it only 75 points. Overall, this was a fun site to use, but I think there’s room for improvement.

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Snooth is a social wine recommendation site. It makes recommendations based on the wines you’ve rated yourself. You can rate, review, and buy wines and interact with your friends on the site. The aspect that intrigued me the most was that the reviews were culled from other places besides its own network, such as places like Wine Spectator and wine competitions and reviewers from other wine networks such as CellarTracker. Snooth’s use is more limited than other sites like WineLog, but it’s definitely got potential, and is useful if you only want recommendations and nothing more.

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Bottletalk is another social site for wine consumers. It’s easy to use, with a pretty design, and offers many of the same features as the other wine networks mentioned above. A few of the differentiating features include food pairings and the ability to nominate “Desert Island Wines” – wines so delicious you would take them with you to well, a deserted island.

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Beer was a form of alcohol that I thought would have more of an online presence than it does. The few social networks I found were sparsely populated, and with very few useful features. Coastr was the only one that really caught my eye; it allows you to rate and review different beers and places to drink beers. Your “drinking buddies” are connected to your profile by the stuff you’ve rated or reviewed, not who you’ve chosen, which is a useful twist on the “friends” concept. There’s also a little app called Kegulator that will calculate the amount of beer and ice you need for an event based on the number of people coming and their alcohol tolerance. It’s cute and aspires to be like Cork’d, but I think it needs time to work out some issues; the site isn’t as user-friendly as any of the other wine sites I’ve listed. That being said, I look forward to new features and more integration with other aspects of beer-drinking.

The sites that are featured here are all about fun. Joining and participating felt like a real pleasure, and not another chore. I adore their creativity, thoughtfulness, and insatiable desire to satisfy their users’ curiosity. I think the passion that these site creators felt for their subjects, be it wine, beer, or the perfect cocktail, is undeniably contagious.

Comment(s)

  1. Jason Coleman on September 13, 2007 at 07:13 AM:
    Kim, thanks for the mention. I think you hit the nail on the head when you say that “Alcohol is all about socializing”, which is why social networks for wine and beer (and cocktails) always click with people.

    And we agree with you RE groups at WineLog. Eventually users will be able to create them through a simple form, but we’re just rolling them out and want to do it slowly. We’re trying to avoid a bunch of people creating overlapping groups.

    Thanks again. And I’ve been loving these posts by you. E-Hub is a great place for round ups like these.

  2. Steve Murch on September 13, 2007 at 07:23 AM:
    Great roundup Kim!

    Just a quick note—our site, http://www.bigoven.com, while geared mostly to recipe swapping, also has tens of thousands of drink recipes.  You can tag drinks, link it to recipes (for pairing cocktails and appetizers, for instance), search by ingredient, and more.

  3. Dave Small on September 13, 2007 at 07:49 AM:
    A nicely researched article that one. I was especially impressed with “bottletalk” – the way they have managed to get the two T’s in their logo to look like bottles is genius. Nice application too.
  4. Lars Hedbor on September 13, 2007 at 10:22 AM:
    You missed Beer Advocate, which incorporates a blog about beer and beer events, reviews of brews and venues, and has even sprouted its own print magazine.  There’s also RateBeer, where community members rate the beers they encounter.
  5. Serge Lescouarnec on September 14, 2007 at 06:43 AM:
    Kim

    A Friday topic I guess.

    I see you do not mention ‘Wine Blogging Wednesday’ which passed the 3 years mark last month.

    One blogger offers a theme for the month and those willing contribute their story on the topic.
    I take part when I can.

    This month the topic was Native Grapes and I wrote about Nero D’Avola a Sicilian Wine.

    Have a great week-end

    Serge
    ‘The French Guy from New Jersey’