DEMO

Demo: TasteJive lets wine recommendations be one of the cool kids

TasteJive wants to make wine just a little bit easier to swallow. Today the company launched its wine recommendation engine to take the jargon out and make wine more contemporary.

Wine can be intimidating and often pushes people away just for the fear of looking stupid. (I know, it’s hard to believe anyone would feel insecure with a bunch of people slurping, swishing and spitting around them, but hey, this is the wine-snob norm.) TasteJive aims to open that culture up by referencing wine in a less sophisticated and more understandable way.

TasteJive relates wine to things you already know such as pop culture references, places, music, film, and more.

For instance, it might describe a wine this way: “With curves in all the right places and legs that just don’t quit, this wine will stop you in your tracks like a half-naked supermodel.” The accompanying photo of a half-naked supermodel will probably also stop you in your tracks, even if you can’t read the copy.

Or, it might rate a wine as “Overrated, and with a checkered past, like Kim Kardashian,” with a photo of Ms. Kardashian.

The wine search engine learns from your preferences, too. The more you use it, the more it detects what kinds of wine you like. TasteJive groups lovers of the same wine together and integrates with Facebook to give better, individualized recommendations based on what your friends like. The app is available on the web as well as on the iPhone.

“TasteJive enables its users to express themselves through short, clever wine recommendations,” said Paulo Lerner, chief executive and co-founder of TasteJive. “We’ve been having a lot of fun, both with the content and the evolution of TasteJive.”

Perhaps fun is the point. According to studies by WineBusiness.com, Portraits USA, and VinTank, wine is a $30 billion a year industry in the United States with more than 80 million people drinking wine in the U.S. each year. Of those 80 million, only 16 percent can be considered connoisseurs or enthusiasts. The rest of these people have no clue how to store red wine, don’t care about aerating it, probably drink Gallo from a refrigerated box, and need a little more entertainment in their lubrication education.

There are a ton of competitors out there who may not have the fun factor, but do have a deep wealth of insight into the wine industry. These include Wine.com, Snooth, Wine 2.0, HelloVino and more who may not have the most fun with their recommendations, but do appeal to a crowd who wants to learn more. These competitors also play the sophistication card, which may speak to the culturally refined side of wine. TasteJive is not afraid to take a more lowbrow, and they hope accessible, route.

TasteJive is a product of Kleintech, which was founded in 2009. There are six employees head quartered in San Francisco working on TasteJive, with a Brazil office and outsourced engineers in Russia. The company has raised a $1 million seed round from private Brazilian angel investors.

TasteJive is one of 80 companies chosen by VentureBeat to launch at the DEMO Fall 2011 event taking place this week in Silicon Valley. After our selection, the companies pay a fee to present. Our coverage of them remains objective. There’s still plenty to see at DEMO, and VentureBeat readers can get a special discount on registration for the remainder of the show at demo.com/VBDay.

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