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Real Time Wine: Wine in 140 characters or less

We live in the age of the Twitter mindset. If you cannot say it in 140 characters, chances are it’s not worth saying. All around the globe, social media wine communities are emerging to educate the masses about wine. US-based social network Snooth, has built an online community for wine drinkers. Users of the site can review and shop for wine. Wine-life in the UK engages audiences with topics, reviews and tales of winemaking in society today. South African site Spit or Swallow allows users to rate and review wine farms along popular wine routes.

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South Africa’s wine community is slowly finding its way online and picking up new members. As a country with a keen interest in social media, most people online aren’t embedded in the wine community nor do they understand it. 140 characters to talk about a good or bad bottle wine could be difficult.

Real Time Wine is a new webiste dedicated to wine reviews for the digital generation born with the 140 character span. Reviews for the “common man” apparently.

According its creator, Andy Hadfield, the site was a response after reading one too many wine reviews that made little to no sense. “I didn’t understand a word they were saying. I felt excluded by this, I enjoyed wine and I liked talking about it but this community is closed off,” says Hadfield.

Hadfield, digital veteran, feels that wine doesn’t need excessive words to make it interesting. “Wordiness equals tardiness,” according to Hadfield.

Instead of the stars most wine reviewers give, the site scores the wines from 1 to 10. Hadfield scored the ‎2008 La Motte Sauvignon Blanc a 9 citing “it’s like two apples running through a meadow, embracing, on my tongue. OMG.”

Anyone is allowed to review. One such review comes from one of the site’s contributors, blogger and marketing co-ordinator at Backsberg, Harry Reginald Haddon who scored the 2007 Neil Ellis Aenigma a seven: “Damn delicious. Blackberry, a little bitter chocolate, very juicy. Delights and tempts. A sweet sixteen red wine.”

Real Time Wine has received some attention from those in the wine community that use words that Hadfield “doesn’t understand”. Tim James, a prominent wine reviewer for Platter’s Guide, wrote a blog post on ‘Grape‘ discussing Hadfield’s site.

In his post James wishes the project well but seems to find it “impossible to believe that anyone is going to find it nourishing for long.” He further adds that site is “vacuous” and “sadly rather dull and boring – which is surely just what it shouldn’t be”.

Popular Sunday Times columnist, Neil Pendock, in his blog ‘Pendock Uncorked’ wrote, what he called “an open tweet to Andy Hadfield“. Pendock both criticises and praises Real Time Wine reviews. Although he mainly uses Twitter to tweet his latest blog posts, Pendock hasn’t really taken to wine reviews of 140 character or less, until he wrote his tweet on a piece of paper in a “tweet-off” with Andy Hadfield.

Hadfield’s argument for the site is that there is a need for inclusion in the wine community. The more people that tweet about wine the more “other people will try those wines because ‘normal’ people are telling them about it.” This illustrates the power of social media and word-of-mouth recommendations in a society with information at their fingertips.

Wine reviews in less that 140 characters are gaining popularity within the wine industry from large brands to boutique farms. Many estates have already started tapping into the twitterverse and blogosphere by hosting “tweet-ups” with wine lovers and encouraging them to taste and tweet from their mobile phones.

Real Time Wine is an interesting site with a somewhat cheeky edge that appeals to the younger, internet and smartphone-savvy target market. The site also looks to attract a broader audience of wine lovers who are simply looking for a straightforward review from ‘ordinary people’ instead of complicated tasting notes that exclude those without such sharp palates. Hadfield is also crowd-sourcing a humorous list of banned words, which shouldn’t be used when reviewing wine, such as “robust”, “Russian taragon herb” and “Cassis”. Hadfield welcomes any contributions to the list so send your suggestions to @Realtimewine.

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