Internet Wine Tastings? |

Internet Wine Tastings?

The Internet has shaped how we communicate, research, shop, and learn about the world around us. But wine tastings online? That’s one we haven’t seen.

French vintner Laurent Habrard, from his vineyard in the Rhône Valley, is reaching out to vinophiles across the world by offering tastes of his wine—over the Internet. Potential customers can explore Habrard’s website, reading up on his Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage, and Saint-Joseph wines. And if any appeal? Just click to order a dégustation gratuite—and a two-ounce sample, enclosed in a custom-designed glass tube, will arrive at your door.

Well, sort of. On first taste, these samples aren’t free—delivery charges run at 3.90 € for one tube, 5.90 € for two and 6.90 € for three. But if you like what you taste (as Habrard hopes and assumes you will) and order a full bottle, you can recoup the cost of the sample. So if you’ve already spent 6.90 € on three samples, the price of your 2006 Hermitage Blanc is knocked from 29.90 € to 23.00 €—and the sample net cost drops to zero.

Habrard put a great deal of effort in designing the system, consulting engineers from the Arts et Métiers in Paris and from Montpelier’s INRA agricultural research institute in crafting the glass bottles, which are filled in a vacuum and said not to alter the taste in the slightest. He hopes that reaching out to customers directly, without the intermediaries of wine merchants or stores, will help expand his business. At the very least, it has already garnered international attention; whether the sales will follow remains to be seen.


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