I first heard about Vinopic.com on the UK Wine Show podcast a few weeks back and thought I’d check it out. The site was launched earlier this year with the aim of removing the guesswork from choosing higher quality, better value wine. Rather than offering a vast selection of wines at cut down prices, the emphasis at Vinopic is on providing a smaller number of carefully selected, high quality wines that they say offer good value for money. Anything that is going to make it easier for me to buy good wine has got to be worth looking in to so I arranged to speak to Santiago Navarro, the founder and Chief Executive, to find out more.
Santiago told me about how he had become frustrated with facing an overwhelming choice of wine at the supermarket or online, and wanted a simple way of buying better wine without having to do hours of research. He points out that with food labelling, you know exactly what’s in the product you’re buying, but with wine there is no easy way of knowing about the quality of what you’re drinking and what additives the winemakers have used. He wanted a way of knowing that the wine he was drinking was made by an expert winemaker using high quality grapes and above all was going to taste good – the result of which is Vinopic.com.
The site is nicely designed and pretty easy to navigate. You can browse wines by colour, country, style or by their recommendations, which is where the site sets itself apart. Roger Corder, a renowned health expert and author of The Wine Diet, analyses every wine and gives it a score they call the Intrinsic Quotient which rewards high levels of Polyphenols and Procyanidins (which have been shown to be beneficial to health), and penalises excessive levels of alcohol, sugar and sulphites. As Polyphenols are only found in red wines, when analysing white wines, they only take into account alcohol, sugar and sulphites. The results are presented in a pretty easy to understand chart.
Next, each wine is tasted by Rosemary George MW, one of the UK’s most respected wine writers. As well as presenting her tasting notes on the site, she gives each wine a score out of 20 which Vinopic call Expert Grading. Rosemary acts as a consultant to Vinopic rather than being part of the business so she can stay independent and unbiased.
The final measure is the Customer Rating from people who have bought the wine through the site. These 3 measures are then combined to make the Vinopic Score. The idea being that wines with a high Vinopic Score will be high quality wines, rich in Polyphenols, low in undesirable things like Sulphites and above all a pleasure to drink.
Although they only offer 80 wines they have aimed to cover most of the popular wine regions and varieties, however there are quite a lot of big, tannic reds as these score highly in Roger’s Intrinsic Quotient. That’s fine by me, but those who prefer lighter styles may find themselves with fewer options. Over time they are aiming to build relationships with the wine producers and work closely with them so it will be interesting to see how that affects the wines on offer. There are some useful features such as the dashboard where you can review your purchases, compare your buying habits with others, although you’ll need to be a regular buyer to make the most of this feature. The minimum purchase is 6 bottles and you can either mix your own case or pick one of the pre-mixed cases which Santiago says are proving to be the most popular options. The average price is £13, which is quite a bit more than I would normally spend on everyday drinking wine but then I suppose the emphasis here is on value rather than price. They do offer free next day delivery but you’ll need to spend over £150 to qualify, otherwise it’s £7.99, which is a bit more than some other sites like Naked Wines.
Overall, I like the concept of the site and I’m pleased to see someone offering something different. I suppose time will tell if it catches on. The only thing left to do is to taste the wines and see if the concept works. I’ve got 3 to try and will write up my thoughts on them over the next few days so stay tuned!