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Monday 5 February 2024

Are you ready to replace your sommelier with an AI operative?

Goodbye sommeliers? Hello to an AI alternative?

Meet VinoVoss AI Virtual Wine Sommelier - an AI-driven online search tool that is billed as "making it easier and quicker than ever before for all wine enthusiasts, from novices to connoisseurs, to find the PERFECT bottle wine for any taste or occasion".

Stop shouting.

Apparently you can ask this piece of devilment questions like “what is an inexpensive cabernet that goes with pork and that sommeliers like?” or “what is a fruity white wine from Napa suited for a romantic dinner?”

Some of the sommeliers I've encountered would probably try to divert both hapless drinkers to something that is "natural", cloudy and smelly. But there are also many fine somms out there who aim to guide you. 

I tried and... it is clearly designed for US consumers.

I asked it to choose a young chardonnay from Australia for under $50 and it came up with all the usual choices that you'd find on a US bottle shop shelf. So [yellowtall], Lindemans, Koonunga Hill, Lindemans, Robert Oatley.

Nothing wrong there, but nothing revolutionary either. And it would not be much help in a restaurant situation. 

It's another search engine to sell wine despite the claim that "BetterAI, a data technology company elevating the world of wine through the power of artificial intelligence (AI), has launched the world’s most comprehensive and intuitive wine search engine and recommendation system".

The system has numerous capabilities, including allowing users to search for wines by grape variety, region or price; get personalized wines based on taste preferences; compare wines to find a perfect match for a meal; track their own wine collection and create a wish list; search for organic wines and more.

But some refinement is clearly needed. 

I asked for a white wine made from an alternative grape variety that would pair well with roast pork. One of the top results: Louis Latour Montagny 1er Cru La Grande Roche. 

Unfortunate. The last time I checked, chardonnay was not an alternative variety.  

But when I asked it for the best high-end shiraz from Australia it did a lot better with recommendations including Torbreck, Penfolds, Henschke, Chris Ringland Jim Barry The Armagh and Yalumba's The Caley, which is actually a blend, but still a very fine wine.

It promised me 1998 Penfolds Grange for US $425 ($651) - a very good price for a vintage Penfolds says "may rank amongst the very finest released".

But there are only three bottles available when you click through - and you have no idea of the provenance or how it has been stored. 

I think I'll stick with Five Ways Cellars in Sydney, or Randall's in Melbourne, for now.

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