Ah, wine. The liquid of love and live. The elixir of poetry, the fluid of refinement, and lately, a trendy topic for tech startups.
Delectable is an iPhone application for remembering wines you’ve tasted and discovering new vintages. The company released a major update today and revealed $2 million in funding from influential angels, including Palantir founder and CEO Alex Karp and Yammer founder and CEO David Sacks as well as Ron Conway as a “special adviser.”
Delectable claims to possess a “keen understanding of wine’s inherent complexity.” It leverages social networking, data analytics, and mobile technology to put a modern spin on an ancient pursuit — the consumption and appreciation of wine. The ultimate goal is to help “casual and passionate wine drinkers alike” develop their taste and find new wines to try.
Image recognition technology identifies wine by snapping a picture. You can tag friends, add locations, assign ratings, and make notes. All of this information lives in a digital wine journal. Delectable has over 2 million bottles in its database, and this number is climbing like vines. All this data is analyzed to impart useful information to the consumer.
New features include personalized wine recommendations based on your preferences and comprehensive profiles for wines including information about grape, vintage, and reviews. Delectable also added an explorable map so drinkers can visualize the the origins of their wine choices and areas producing wines they are likely to enjoy. Social features let users follow friends and engage with other oenophiles. Delectable incorporated content from experts as well, so you can follow sommeliers and winemakers.
If you are anything like me, your efforts at cultivating an refined sensibility for wine has made minimal progress. Wine is one of my favorite things, and yet I know very little about my own tastes beyond primitive reactions of “I like” or “I don’t like.” Delectable can help me cultivate my own tastes, whereas more sophisticated wine drinkers can use it to keep track of their experiences.
There are a handful of wine apps out there competing to win the hearts and palates of users. Vivino, a Copenhagen-based startup, recently raised $10.3 million for its app that uses image recognition technology to identify and catalogue wines. Snooth is another popular wine app that includes an online wine store. Club W raised $3.1 million for its online wine service that uses algorithms to generate personalized wine recommendations, and wine daily deals site Lot18 has raised $44.5 million. However, the companies that actually sell wine have struggled to make money, given the high marketing and shipping costs of selling wine online.
Delectable’s cofounder and CEO Alex Fishman previously worked at hot data startup Palantir fighting financial fraud and the financing of terrorism using large-scale data integration. His team of engineers has experience at Palantir as well as Zynga and the U.S. army. Delectable is based in San Francisco and was founded in 2011.