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Former Disney Wine Expert Explains Why "Wine Algorithms" Don't Work

Former Disney Wine Expert Explains Why "Wine Algorithms" Don't Work

Everywhere we turn on social media these days, it seems we are being sold some algorithm-driven product promising total "personalization." It is a tantalizing idea: that a few data scientists and computer programmers can predict your preferences based on a short quiz and thereby deliver perfect satisfaction.

Unfortunately, it's bunk.

The wine industry in particular seems to have embraced this algorithm-fueled insanity. Virtually every online wine club now claims that it can match your taste preferences based on a short quiz. But what do the actual wine experts say?

We asked Kevin Boyer, former Sommelier for Disney's fine dining restaurants and Global VP of Beverage for Ruth's Chris steakhouses, what he thought about this trend:

"The idea that algorithms alone are able to supposedly pick the perfect wine is absolutely laughable to me," said Boyer. "It's akin to walking into a fine dining restaurant, filling out a questionnaire at the hostess stand and then waiting to find out what you're going to have for dinner."

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Boyer put it in the form of a question: "If you were eating at a five-star restaurant, and undecided on the menu would you rather trust the Chef, someone that has spent his career thoughtfully tasting, selecting and preparing those ingredients, and that cared to spend some time with you to understand your preferences and thoughtfully prepare items especially for you? Or would you trust a guy in a bunker somewhere programming the computer to get it right for you?"

We did find one wine club that seems to get it right, and it also happens to be the original: Tasting Room. Tasting Room knows that a quiz pre-determining your palate doesn't work, doesn't truly get to know you, and will never guarantee your satisfaction. Their approach is to offer a high-touch, customer-focused journey of discovery, without an algorithm or quiz in sight. You can chat with real experts, participate in virtual tasting sessions, and find extraordinary wines that you may not even know existed.

Be prepared to be surprised by what you may find! What Tasting Room seems to understand is that wine is supposed to be fun! The site's quirky personality is a breath of fresh air in what is becoming a rigid, computerized industry.

Our recommendation for the best online wine club is Tasting Room. Ditch the algorithms and follow your taste buds (and your sense of adventure) instead!

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