The story starts like a punch line to a joke. Two Texas engineers walk into a local Dallas wine bar and order four different wine flights that aren’t to their personal tastes. Because these guys owned a data analysis and consulting company, they knew that having the right data would help them make a decision about a wine that would satisfy both of them.
With the data problem solved, they needed to convince their sommelier friend, Chris Taylor, to apply his personal expertise to put together WinePoynt, a location- and assortment-oriented mobile app designed to help wine drinkers find wines they enjoy.
The company launched in 2009; the app for Android and iPhone were launched in 2011. The app comes in free and premium versions available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon for $.99 a month or $4.99 a year.
When I navigated the Recommend tab, there were some interesting “off the beaten path” user reviews for Alma Andina 2011, Chateau Pibran 2004 and Meeker Cabernet Franc 2004.
“Our initial plan was very ambitious, and we’ve learned a ton in the process,” says Taylor, who is now the president of WinePoynt. “We learned to prioritize locations and features. But, at the end of the day, the problem remains the same for people who buy wine.
“Just because I like a certain wine doesn’t mean that you will like it as well. And wine is often overwhelming because of the number of choices. If I know your preferences, this application takes out the complexity of wine and gives you something that works specifically for you.”
He says they initially planned to focus on wine bars and restaurants, but retailers — especially the grocery stores — were early adopters. I downloaded the app, logged in, entered a few key questions and then clicked on “Drink. Rate. Repeat.” The grocery store ratings were very robust, and I even found a few sales. But I couldn’t find some key wine bars around town like Veritas.
In terms of restaurants, the chains were easier to navigate. However, the app is always in improvement mode and depends on the robustness of its community. You can request new locations and add wines that aren’t in the database by putting in the name or scanning the barcode.
When I navigated the Recommend tab, there were some interesting “off the beaten path” user reviews for Alma Andina 2011, Chateau Pibran 2004, Antonio Sasa 2006, Buehler Vineyards 2009 and Meeker Cabernet Franc 2004 in addition to the grocery store labels like Cupcake, Kendall-Jackson and Ravenswood. I quickly found some WinePoynt users that I’d follow more closely than others.
WinePoynt helps you navigate your wine preferences, provides recommendations, offers food pairing suggestions, shares wine activities and gives consumers a wide option of wines they might enjoy. There are currently 30,000 wines in the database, and the company’s goal is to add 15 new locations every two weeks. You can even create your own list — like “champagnes to drink before you die.” Bryan-College Station, Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin are the focus markets for now.
According to Taylor, the biggest challenge the company is facing is competing for people’s time and exposure. Once the usual suspect wine bars are added, I see this becoming a robust wine app for everything from finding a good Pinot Noir to pair with salmon to discovering a new varietal to finding out about a 40 percent sale at Tom Thumb for wines over $20.