snooth.jpgSnooth, a New York company offering a “social” wine search and review site, has raised $1 million more in funding, but on a closer look it offers little new.

Snooth says its database contains more than 300,000 wines with 1.9 million reviews, and its lets experts and casual wine drinkers find any of these bottles with a simple search. It also lets users provide preferences (bold, peppery, fruity, etc.) and it returns personalized recommendations. It lets users buy from a network of 1,000 merchants. The company offers things like charts that illustrate how a specific wine’s rating changes over time and breaks down by level of popularity.

In other words, it is trying an open model, and a social model that is more “Web 2.0” than predecessors, which have been flops, including Wine.com. Wine.com is currently on its seventh reincarnation, as investors try different ways to see if can make money (it swallowed hundreds of millions of dollars during the last boom before crashing into bankruptcy). The idea of a “meta” wine search and buy site is a good one. Snooth doesn’t care where it is sold, it will point you the wine you are looking for. Too many retailers, from Wine.com to more specialized sites, provide search only on their own inventory.

However, other wine search sites already exist, including Wine-Searcher.com, which boasts a broader search: 2.6 million wines and 8,500 retailers. Moreover, Snooth’s reviews aren’t accessible to everyone. For example, I searched for a “Barbe Rac Chapoutier,” which I found an entry for, but when I clicked on the Robert Parker review, I was hit with a registration page. In other words, I had to pay to become a member of Parker’s site to be able to read the review.

We ran this by Chris Kitze, former Chairman of Wine.com (he is no longer associated with that company), and he said the site might be fun for people to play with, but that unless is licensed the reviews, it is is unlikely to get significant traction. Wine.com, one of the biggest wine merchants online, itself is barely breaking even.

Kitze said Snooth.com might better be called Snoot.com. Snark aside, we do hope the site can manage to license the reviews, which would make it a much more useful. There’s just so much information about wine already on the Web, and no reason why I should buy it here.

 

Snooth hopes to take a referral fee for traffic that is sent to the merchant’s shopping cart. It is a pay-per click-model. Currently, the rate is 35 cents a click. It says it wants to sign up more merchants going forward.
This is Snooth’s second round, following an initial $300,000 raised in December 2006.

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