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This Algorithm Knows Exactly Which Wine You Want to Drink Next

Finding your next Malbec might soon be easier than finding your next Tinder match—and the inevitable mismatches can’t possibly be any worse.

by Jelisa Castrodale
Nov 13 2016, 4:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski

When you finish a book on a Kindle, Amazon's algorithm serves up some suggestions for what you might want to read next. And after you watch an Aziz Ansari special on Netflix, its own technology recommends some other awkward Millennial comedies for you. So what if, the next time you bought and enjoyed a bottle of wine, a similar online algorithm could tell you what else you should probably drink? That's the idea behind Verve Wine, a soon-to-launch online retailer that believes it might be able to understand your taste preferences better than you do.

Verve's customers have the option of either visiting its soon-to-open Manhattan store and completing a tasting session with founder and master sommelier Dustin Wilson (or one of the store's other six sommeliers) or answering some questions about each wine sample. The results are then entered into a computer, which will make recommendations based on the customer's likes and dislikes. (It's more sophisticated than that, and it's also more sophisticated than my own wine selection method: "Does It Have a Carnivorous Animal on the Label?").

"The website will be human-driven as much as it will be algorithm driven," Verve spokesperson Kalei Talwar told MUNCHIES. "Dustin and his partner, veteran wine merchant Derrick Mize, have hand-picked every single bottle on the site, so there's not a bad pick in the mix." They are also basing the algorithm on their years of experience studying what their customers likes and preferences are based on their previous favorite wines."

Customers who place an order through Verve's website are encouraged to rate the wine, and each rating will allow it to make better, more tailored recommendations for future orders. If that sounds familiar—like other websites or even your own Netflix queue—that's not an accident. The company is targeting millennials, who not only uncork (or unscrew) half of the bottles of wine that are consumed in this country, but they're also beyond comfortable with clicking those online "Add to Cart" buttons.

"We're really proud to say that we'll be targeting consumers at all ends of the spectrum—from people looking for a $15 bottle to those looking to invest thousands of dollars for collecting," Talwar added.

Verve's New York City store is scheduled to open on November 14 and those who are interested in its e-recommendations can sign up to be notified when the site is live (although Talwar said that Verve will be collecting customer data before its launch). Give it another couple of updates and maybe find your next Malbec will be easier than finding your next Tinder match—and the inevitable mismatches can't possibly be any worse.

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