Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Tiny Bottles and Brixr: Live wine tasting at its best

By Jessica Yadegaran
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 at 4:56 pm in Corkheads.

brixr sample of tiny bottles

I just had the privilege of participating in the beta test for a new online platform that’s bringing a live, interactive approach to wine tasting that I think is going to take consumers in a new and positive direction.

On Brixr, which is a Crushpad project, you taste wines from sample-sized, 1.7 ounce bottles called TinyBottles with other wine enthusiasts and experts before you commit to buying a whole bottle.

So, if the laundry list of berries, herbs, and other subjective descriptors in wine trade pubs confuses instead of helps you determine what to buy, this approach may suit your needs better.

The Tiny Bottles are “green,” convenient, and cost far less than a whole bottle of wine. There’s nothing I hate more than wasting wine when I’m doing a tasting. No more.

Our tasting included 100 of my fellow media professionals and was led by Rajat Parr, the wine director for Michael Mina’s restaurants. Parr tasted us through six Rhone-style wines that range in price from $20 to $50.

My favorite was a 2008 Arnot-Roberts Syrah($38)  from the Clary Ranch in Sonoma Coast. A little cold for Syrah, you say? Yes, the winery folks harvested in early November! That’s how long it took to get the grapes where they wanted them. Still, the alcohol is 11.5 percent. You heard me. 11.5! And it’s California Syrah. They only made three barrels of it and it’s absolutely gorgeous.

Crushpad created the samples using “proprietary rebottling technology” that is friendly to the juice. In other words, they are bottled with nitrogen and triple sparged, allowing virtually no oxygen ingress and resulting in a taste experience that is true the wine’s normal bottling. The small bottles are under screw cap, of course.

On the left of my screen during the tasting was a live video of Parr and Christie Dufault of RN74 tasting through the wines, spitting, discussing the regions that the wines hailed from – Paso Robles, Sonoma Coast, Crozes Hermitage, Cotes du Rhone, Gigondas – and all around enhancing our understanding and appreciation of the wines.

It’s basically good old fashioned live storytelling. I wouldn’t most of  those interesting details about the Arnot-Roberts had I read a tasting note.

To the right of my screen, a lively dialogue was brewing between my fellow tasters and I. We were all able to give our impressions of the wine while joking around a little too. It was fun.

Anyway, it’s a great concept, and with more wineries looking to increase their direct to consumer sales in this dire economy (they certainly can’t rely on restaurants and tasting room sales during a recession) it’s a win-win for everyone.

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