Welcome to the New Winegeeks!
By Ryan Snyder
Welcome to the new Winegeeks! We're happy to announce that our site no longer looks like it was developed in the 20th century! I've been working on updates to the front and back ends of the site for about a year now, and it's finally ready to go. You may be a repeat visitor, or this may be your first time on the site... Just to be safe either way, let me start with a quick introduction to Winegeeks:
Winegeeks was founded in 2004 with the intention of bridging the gap of knowledge between the wine newbie and the professional. Our team of writers provides articles and writeups about grapes, appellations (wine speak for wine regions) and confusing wine terms. Our readers provide the wine reviews and help each other make more informed decisions when buying wine... and while you're consuming the wine, you may visit Winegeeks to find out more information about that wine on our site. We have a feature called Winery of the Month, where we shine the spotlight on a winery that we believe is doing it right, and we are well known for our introduction to wine called Wine for Newbies and for our monthly spotlight on cost-friendly Bang for Buck Wines.
So, besides the site design, what's new? Most notably, when we originally started the site, we decided to write all of the wine reviews ourselves. While this was certainly an enjoyable and, pardon the pun, intoxicating experience, we found ourselves talking about how the wine tastes to us when what really matters is how the wine tastes to you. Now, all of the Winegeeks wine reviews are provided by our readers, and we're absolutely thrilled to hand the reigns over!
The rating scale at Winegeeks is also new. Originally we used a 10-point rating scale and instead of keeping that scale or moving to the arbitrary 100-point scale, we've decided to condense it to a simple 5-star rating system. We wanted to make it easy to review wines, and easy to get a quick visual indicator of how the wine compares to other similar wines. We feel that a five-star system is enough to provide the reader with an impression of the wine's quality and character, and believe that the conversation found in the user reviews will display the true merits of the wine... How the flavors worked together, how the body and texture enhanced the flavors, how the wine paired with food, etc.
To be more specific about the new wine review system, we've implemented a review system whereby you describe the wines using adjectives, and we calculate what the score will be on the back end. For example, we'll ask you about the wine's quality, and you'll tell us whether it was Outstanding, Okay, or Poor, and we'll assign a number to each of the answers you select regarding the aroma, taste, typicity, ageability and bang for the buck. We will take these assesments and calculate your wine rating behind the scenes. We wanted to create a system that would prevent a user, for example, from rating a wine 100 points because it was the best white Zinfandel they've ever tried, and also allow us to weigh certain aspects of the rating according to factors we believe are important. Wines that age gracefully 20 years will be given bonus points, while wines that won't improve in bottle will see only a minor subtraction from their rating.
Some users have asked that we provide a "corked" rating for the wine, so that there is a mechanism for rating a wine that has been oxidized, baked or is suffering from TCA, Brettanomyces or some other common flaw. We believe that all wines should go through the same rating scale. It has become acceptable that 1 in every 6 bottles of wine is damaged, and that's a bunch of hooey. We have the technology to prevent skunked wines at every step of the manufacturing process, from the vineyard, to the winery, to the cargo ship, to the delivery truck, to the warehouse and to the wine shop. If you taste a wine and are overwhelmed by the taste of wet cardboard, then you need to rate the wine as such. If there's a problem with the wine, then someone along the assembly line needs to become aware of the problem and fix it. Because drinking bad wine sucks.
What else is new? We've enhanced the Google Maps mashups on the winery and appellation pages, enlarged the maps and made the maps printable. Members can now add pictures to the photo album associated with every entry on the site, as you can see in the Walla Walla and Pinot Noir photo albums. Members may now comment on any of the articles on the site if they would like. We've thrown in wine blogs to the mix, so we can rant about microxygenation, wine enhancers, irrigation and other winemaking practices that make us steam like a tea kettle. And we've added multiple currencies to the site so that a user may calculate the cost of a bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in both the U.S. and in France. Our fellow purple-teethed friends across the pond should be able to use Winegeeks just as well as us Yankees.
Technically speaking, I played with a number of new techonologies while developing the new Winegeeks. But while a number of brilliant technologies have graced the alpha test site, in order to keep Winegeeks simple and easy to use I decided to keep only the best of the new high tech gadgetry. You'll see some AJAX bits here and there, namely when adding a new wine to the site, or rating others' comments as being helpful or unhelpful on an article or wine review page. Otherwise, the site has been stripped down to make it simple, easy to use and fast.
If you're ready to start reviewing wines, signup for a new account and login, then you may review a wine. If you want to discuss the site or other aspects of wine, hit our discussion board and weigh in on a topic or three. If you have anything you'd like to see on this site, be it enhancements or bug fixes, or just want to drop a line and say Hey Hey, contact us and let us know.