The scene was surreal. There were 21 Missouri wineries in the hotel ballroom, 100 or so people tasting wine, and a large screen at the far side of the room. The screen, changing constantly, was displaying real-time comments made not only by everyone who was in the room tasting the wine, but by people throughout the world commenting on the comments that were being made about the wine. And there were pictures.
Or, as Eric V. Orange, the founder and CEO of LocalWineEvents.com said to me, as we watched what was going on in middle-aged disbelief: "Wow. I never imagined it would be like this."
Twitter tastings, like the one we did for the 2011 DrinkLocalWine.com conference in St. Louis on Saturday, are nothing new. They've been hip and au courant for a couple of years, and not just because of the technology. Virtual tastings allow wineries, wine regions and other groups that don't have big budgets to do tastings that offer big results. The reach is impressive: Those 100 people in a hotel ballroom can turn their tweets about Missouri wine into millions of impressions on Twitter, which can get picked up through other social media like Facebook and even end up in Google search results.
What's new, and what was so impressive this time, is that so many people who weren't there wanted to know about the wines that were being tasted. And that's something that will continue to push the wine world in a completely different direction -- one that continues to squeeze wine criticism. More, after the jump: