Tasting by Keystroke

Boston-area wine shop initiates tastings via Twitter.

Want to join a tasting group, but just can't stomach the thought of wading through verticals with a bunch of muckety-mucks who use "summer" as a verb? You're in luck. These days, 21st-century types don't even have to get up from their couches to wax poetic about grape blends and cold fermenting. Real-time wine tasting, as just about everything else these days, has gone the way of Twitter.

Twitter, a software application that allows users to send short
messages to other users about where they are and what they're doing right now, is typically the domain of teenagers and twentysomethings whose comments run the gamut from, "This party's lame—I'm on my way to Josh's now" to "Watching speech. Is Palin running for PTA VP?"

But since Craig Drollett and John Hafferty, co-founders of Braintree, Massachusetts "off-price" wine shop Bin Ends, started their monthly Twitter Taste LIVE events this past July, computer Luddites and techies alike have been logging on to Bin Ends' virtual tastings, comparing notes on such things as pairing Gewürztraminer with foie gras, and the state of Alsace's harvest.

Bin Ends hosts these Twitter tastings on the third Thursday of every month. A few weeks before each tasting, they unveil the event's theme, special guest and the wines that will be discussed. Tasting sets of the featured wines, of course, are available for purchase (including free shipping) from Bin Ends. Many participants "tweeted" that they were hosting dinner/tasting parties at their own houses—a great idea, considering that each tasting kit includes five or six wines.

What kind of people log on to Twitter Taste LIVE? A mix of enthusiastic consumers and wine blogger-types, mostly, with "famous wine personalities" such as Eric Solomon and Etienne Hugel leading everyone through their wines and happily fielding questions from the peanut gallery. But fear not, newbies: not one of these virtual tasters brought up his or her polo horses, strong portfolios or half-shares "on the island." For more information on Bin Ends' Twitter tastings, go to www.binendswine.com and click the "Twitter Taste LIVE" link.

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