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Vinado: The Site & the Party

28-Jun-2006
I’ve been thinking about this post for a few days after I attended Vinado’s opening party last week.  And I’ve decided that I need to talk about the site (and concept) and the party separately and make sure the experience with one does not necessarily reflect on the other. 
 
Okay, enough with the veiled references and on with the post! 
 
Vinado is a new online wine shop that has some really great ideas and lots of potential.  Basically they are bringing wines of the world right into your home.  And at discounted prices.  Now a quick look at the retail prices they list and what the winery’s websites list shows some discrepancy in just how much the discount might be.  I found that the Vinado website often listed the list price as higher than what the winery listed.  However, I also found instances when they were exactly the same and even, occasionally less than the winery’s price.  The net though is that Vinado’s discounted price was always less than the winery’s price.  So basically, you will get a discount from the winery price just maybe not quite as much as you might think. 
 
There are several things I like about the site.  First, in my initial poking around it has seemed very easy to navigate.  You can look at wines by region or by fun categories such as "Sailing Wines", "Beautiful Wines Under $20", and "Vinado.com’s Choice".  In addition they have a handy recipe section and, even better, a pairing feature. 
 
Entering Pinot Noir as my wine, brought back ten interesting sounding recipes.  Alternatively, they need to do some work on the reverse pairing – entering a food didn’t work out so well, unless you entered one of their recipes.  I would think that entering a generic term like "oysters" would have brought back something but the system had some trouble there.  Still the idea is great and their pairing "lessons" are quick bites of useful information. 
 
Right now they can only ship wines to Washington but will be expanding out to 30 states in the next couple of months. 
 
The site has much more than I’ve mentioned so you should check it out. 
 
Now, about the party.  I was lucky in a couple of ways.  M2 scored tickets to the event and took me as her guest so that meant I didn’t have to pay to get in and we were able to enter at the earlier press and special guests time, an hour prior to the general opening.  These were both good things. 
 
I’m not really sure why people can’t seem to get wine tasting flows straight – I mean these types of events have been going on for so long, you’d think there would just be generally accepted principals on how to do it right.  I’m not sure if the fault was with Vinado or the W Hotel catering staff but the layout created huge bottlenecks once the event was opened to all. 
 
Adding to the flow issues, and this was Vinado’s issue, was that for each wine you had to get your "passport" stamped before they would pour for you.  So, in affect you were in two lines for each taste.  While I liked the idea of the passport for tracking what was being served, what I tasted and what I liked, I did not like the idea that Vinado was using it to limit people to just one taste per wine. 
 
This seemed a little punitive in some ways.  I mean most people had paid $40 for entry, no small amount for a wine tasting.  And, I’m sure there are some people who abuse the tasting procedures, but in general you just don’t see that happen at most events. People can only drink so much at a tasting in a limited amount of time. Does it really hurt if someone goes back for "seconds" to certain wines – especially since that normally means they will skip something else?  So putting this gating system in place was unnecessary and awkward. 
 
I have noticed that the next event in Seattle, planned for July has been moved to a different location, so perhaps Vinado decided that the room at the W was not right for their needs.  Perhaps they are seeking to rectify the organizational challenges based on what they learned at this first event.  If that’s the case I think that is great!  I guess time will tell. 
 
So while I can’t whole-heartedly recommend the events, they might be worth a try.  On the other hand, I do think checking out the website is something you should do. 
 

 
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