Despite being one of the oldest and most traditional drinks, fine wine has surprisingly always been at the cutting edge of modernism. We are full of examples through the ages where fine wine has benefited from innovation. From the first monks who would observe the cycles of the moon and adjust their methods accordingly, to machine harvesting, to using technology as a cornerstone in contemporary winemaking, to digital solutions in storing, the fine wine industry has always been a pioneer in striving to find modern, effective ways of making their vino smarter.
Advances in technology have made life easier on the investment side of the fence too. Exponential growth has allowed wine investment to be made from the comfort of your smartphone, while online sales have skyrocketed. Apps such as Vindome.net have not only revolutionised the way we invest in fine wine but provide plenty of background information including past market performance, professional ratings as well as lots of other useful data that will help you to go from hobby sommelier to savvy investor in just a few clicks.
We detail how technology will help you to become a better investor with Vindome.
Blockchain, QR Codes and NFC
By now we all know what blockchain is. But how does using blockchain translate to fine wine transactions?
Apart from the obvious financial history of your bottle, the certitude of provenance is a major asset. Then, there is the potential for geolocalisation – meaning winemakers can gain a greater understanding of where and when their wines are being enjoyed and can adjust their marketing and export schedules accordingly. And then there is the elimination of the potential for bottles going “missing” during shipment. Blockchain technology can also record temperature and humidity ensuring that high-value bottles retain their worth by being kept in optimal conditions at all times. In general, if you are willing to invest in wine, you better choose a wine investing app that supports Blockchain.
It’s easy to see why blockchain technology is becoming more and more appealing to fine wine investors and consumers. The way it is used is as follows: when the wine is bottled in the facility, the blockchain software (there are a few on the market) time stamps the product, thus “giving birth” to the blockchain that will contain every nugget of data. The start of this chain for wine is usually regarding the grape, terroir conditions and harvest date. The timestamp is recorded on a smartphone and then transferred onto an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip or in some cases, a QR code. This chip or QR code stores all the wine’s data, from its birth in the winery to how it is transported, its distribution and transaction history and so on. This is of unimaginable importance to collectors and consumers.
IoT and AI for Viticulture
Hands up if you’ve heard of the IoT? Yes, us neither. IoT is the acronym for the Internet of Things. The internet of things is a system of connected digital technologies such as computers, tablets, machines, objects and even animals and in some cases, humans, that are equipped with unique identifiers (UIDs) which gives them the ability to transfer peer to peer data without requiring human interaction.
This technology is already very much part of our day to day life. If you have a smartphone in your hand or a smartwatch on your wrist then you are already part of the IoT generation. The technology spreads to the home too – we are already aware of smart refrigerators, smart fire alarms, smart door locks, smart bicycles, as well as medical sensors and fitness trackers. The IoT device market is increasing drastically, and it is assumed to have more than 20 billion IoT products in the market up and in running state by the end of 2022.
In the winemaking industry, IoT is easily translated into connected irrigations and thermostat systems, while smart sensors can detect crop disease, monitor soil quality and optimise cellar temperatures to maximise wine quality.
AI is also becoming increasingly important for viticulture. Computers are being taught to observe and analyse vineyards for pests, disease, water stress, vigour, and more. Vehicle-mounted camera systems will provide fast, efficient vineyard data and alert growers to problems that may require further human inspection and, if necessary, intervention.
With climate change becoming an important factor in wine growing and viticulture, winemakers have started embracing a smarter approach. The complexities of these meteorological adversities are vast and diverse. AI provides much-needed help to winemakers by analysing data and processing it efficiently so appropriate decision-making can be done. In the last 10 years, artificial intelligence has offered various applications to be included in viticultural and winemaking operations, which has rendered important advances and information to deal with climate change adversities. This trend is of course expected to rise: Artificial Intelligence in the food & beverage industry was valued at USD 3.07 billion in 2020 and is seeing tremendous growth. According to market research and consulting group Mordor Intelligence, the industry is expected to reach USD 29.94 billion by 2026.
Data analysis company Saturnalia revolutionised the fine wine in 2020 when they launched their fine wine platform collecting data regarding the quality, price analyses and predictions for a select band of fine wines in Bordeaux. The Italian company released its harvest report in October 2020, which included weather data, geology, topography, and past wine prices. The report provided investors with detailed, in-depth information giving them a competitive advantage against the market. This information allows investors to make informed decisions when buying fine wine trading apps when using such as Vindome.net.
Drones for Delivering Wine
Drone deliveries have been being trialled for some time now, with transportation giants such as DHL, UPS, Amazon and even Domino’s Pizza leading the way. These services have shown so much potential that tech giants such as Google’s parent company Alphabet are hailing it as the future of e-commerce fulfilment to solve the problem of “last mile” deliveries.
Despite the media jumping on the feel-good story of an Australian couple who managed to get two cases of wine delivered to them on a cruise ship while they were quarantined during lockdown (all bars and restaurants were closed, and this was week five of a one week trip), drone delivery for wine is still in its very early stages.
AR Packaging and Labels
Ever since Pokemon GO burst into our lives in 2016, Augmented Reality – AR for short – has been a thing. Or has it? AR has been on a bit of a boom or bust cycle for a while. Certainly, the world has embraced the potential of the idea, but the reality – augmented or not – still has not been used to its full effect in recent years.
After Coca-Cola used a major AR activation campaign for Christmas in 2018, and Fanta’s now famous ‘It’s a thing’ 2019 AR campaign (where Snapchat users pointed their smartphones at Fanta’s billboards and posters to unlock digital content including shareable AR filters and sticker packs), was labelled a success, the winemaker is looking for ways to use AR to deliver a brand experience right on the bottle.
This kind of technology naturally attracts a younger audience. A fact which has not escaped Australian winemaker 19 Crimes. Each bottle is labelled with the mugshot of a British criminal who was sent to Australia for having committed one of the famous 19 crimes (which included clandestine marriage, impersonating an Egyptian and stealing a letter). Once they arrived in Oz, they were free to start a new life for themselves, on the condition they never returned home.
Drinkers of 19 Crimes can hear the former convict’s stories first hand, thanks to the magic of augmented reality. Download the free app (iOS and Android) and hold it up to the label on the wine, which features an image of a former convict. The image becomes ‘alive’, explaining to the drinker why they were sent away, thus engaging both the mind and the taste buds simultaneously. Stories include the tale of John O’Reilly (on the Red Blend bottle) who found love in his exile, and the story of Jane Castings, who discusses her thieving ways on the white wine bottle. Snoop Dogg is also an ambassador for the brand, making this very much a millennial demographic.
So far few big names have taken to AR, however, Bordeaux brand Chateau Laffitte Carcasset has begun to tentatively experiment with the technology. It’s a relatively standard approach to AR, with a simple animation playing on the bottle’s logo when viewed through a smartphone. However, for an old-world wine, and in particular a Bordeaux, which has been criticised for allegedly living in the past, this is a ground-breaking innovation.
Digital Wine Collections
One thing is certain, the tokenization of real-world assets is taking off. This is no surprise, given the market is expected to reach 24 trillion within the next five years.
Coindesk recently highlighted that even Goldman Sachs (GS) said it is examining non-fungible tokens (NFT), particularly the “tokenization of real assets,” as the investment bank dives deeper into the crypto space.
Yes, NFTs are everywhere this year. This new digital asset took the virtual world by storm last year, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The NFT represents real-world objects that can be bought and sold online and are encoded with the same underlying software as many cryptocurrencies. The art world has taken to NFTs like Banksy to his spray cans – a staggering $174 million has been spent on NFTs since November 2017.
The fine wine market is moving with the times; Australia’s Penfolds, one of the world’s most respected wine estates, has launched a limited edition NFT tied to its rare Magill Cellar 3 barrel of wine, made from the 2021 vintage, available for purchase for US$130,000. The single barrel NFT will be converted into 300-bottle NFTs at the date of bottling the wine in October 2022 with each bottle being identified with both a barrel and bottle number. So far Penfolds is the only estate to venture into NFTs and cryptocurrency, but depending on their success, others will undoubtedly follow.
The way it works is as follows. Every asset is divided into x numbers of NFT. Buyers own a digital version of the bottle that they can show off in the virtual world, as well as owning a part share in some of the biggest names in wine in the world. Additionally owning the NFT also gives access to a real-life experience (eg wine tasting session…).
It’s a brave new world and a brand new channel. Welcome to wine trading in the 21st century.