Archive for the 'Blurbs' Category

Able Grape West Coast Conference Tour

Snowy Union Park in Boston, January 2012 Boston has been beautiful this winter, my first “real” winter in 25 years. No doubt this was in part because I didn’t bring my car, and thus missed out on the dubious daily pleasure of digging one’s car out of a snowdrift, or fighting for the parking spot one has just cleared. But mostly it’s about memories: this winter has taken me right back to my childhood in the Midwest and my teenage years here on the East Coast: the wonder of waking up to see the world covered in white; remembering the way the deepening snow reflects light, but deadens sound, leading to days as eerily quiet as they are stunningly sunny; the warmth and crackle of a roaring fire while the snow silently falls outside the window (this last perhaps differentiated from my childhood by the presence of a fine glass of whisky or Armagnac). The winter would have been perfect had it not been for one mishap: slipping on a patch of ice on an otherwise beautiful long run, bruising or cracking my Continue reading ‘Able Grape West Coast Conference Tour’

A little Tuesday fun

Almost every day as I work on Able Grape I look at hundreds or thousands of queries to try to understand how people are using the search engine and how I can make it better. Today, on a lark, I took about ten thousand recent queries and put them through Jonathan Feinberg’s excellent Wordle tool to generate a word cloud from the most common search terms. Click on the image at left, or on this link, to see the full size word cloud, where the less common terms are easy to see (of course, remember that given the diverse, long, long tail of search behavior, most search terms don’t even show up).

This isn’t exactly scientific, but it does highlight a couple of things I’d like to make better: first, Able Grape’s searches are still very biased towards English… please help me get the word out in other languages! Second, lots of people still type things like “wine” or “winery” even though you don’t usually have to on Able Grape, because everything’s about wine. Anyway, a bit of Tuesday fun. Thoughts? Impressions?

Happy Canada Day

maple_syrupHappy Canada Day! A big thanks to Able Grape’s significant community of Canadian users, who have been dedicated supporters of our project. We really appreciate it.

For fun, a few links to Canadian wine resources, and related viticultural topics, on Able Grape. They’ll open in a separate window – please try them! As always, we welcome feedback. Is there something missing? Can we make these results better? Have suggestions for other examples we could include? Drop us a note.

(And yes, that is maple syrup in the wine bottle pictured at left. Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)
Continue reading ‘Happy Canada Day’

Come see us at Wine 2.0 this Thursday

Able Grape is excited to be demoing our search engine for trustworthy, in-depth wine information this Thursday at Wine 2.0 in San Francisco, hosted by the fine folks at Crushpad.

Want to learn more about Able Grape? Want to learn secret tips and tricks for finding great, in-depth online wine information? Have feedback or suggestions about how we can make this an even better tool for your needs? Or even if you’d just like to hang out with a bunch of wine geeks and taste lots of wine, please stop by and say hi!

Mention the secret code nebbiolo at our demo table, and we may have a special surprise for you, if it hasn’t already run out…

Calling all of you in the wine trade!

postcardv1I’d like to help you, your colleagues and your customers find more trustworthy, in-depth wine information on the Internet. And I could use your help getting the word out about Able Grape:

•  If you’d like a stack of Able Grape postcards (see image at left) for display in your store or restaurant, or to give to your trade clientele, please drop me an email with your address, and I’ll gladly send some to you.

•  If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, get in touch and I’d be happy to come out and demo Able Grape for you and your colleagues, and show you some tips and tricks for finding great, in-depth wine information (some of which is very difficult or impossible to find via Google!). I’d also appreciate the chance to talk with you and learn how I can make Able Grape an even better tool for our community. Have thoughts or suggestions about what you need when looking for wine information? Get in touch, I’d love to come out and meet you. (If you’re not in the Bay Area, get in touch anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts, and who knows when I may be in your neighborhood…)

Able Grape Turns One!

birthdaycakeThis is a short post for a momentous occasion, but I’ve been so busy working on the new version of Able Grape that I almost forgot: on January 28th, Able Grape turned one year old! (That’s not counting the three year gestation period prior to launch, of course…) I wanted to thank all of you for your incredible support during the past year. It’s been quite an adventure.

On a separate note, some of you may have noticed that I’ve been quiet for the last few weeks, and database refreshes have been delayed a bit. This is because I’m hard at work on new infrastructure to handle the incredible growth Able Grape has been seeing. Early tests have been going well, and I hope to crank up the new system to full scale as soon as I finish testing. The new database should come in at about 17 million documents, with 40,000 sites worth of trustworthy wine information. Thanks for your patience, the new database is going to rock! And when it’s up and running, it’ll be time for a proper birthday party. Looking forward to bringing lots of great things your way in this, Able Grape’s second year!

(P.S. that photo isn’t just a stock image, it’s a mille crêpe cake a friend and i baked recently for another friend’s birthday; 20 layers of crêpes (well, almost; we ran out of batter) with pastry cream in between, and a brûlée top. A “mattone,” as the Italians would say, but oh, so good. And so much fun with a kitchen flamethrower making it)

Merry Christmas / Joyeux Noël / Buon Natale!

Just a quick note to all the people who have stopped by to visit Able Grape in this, our first year. I hope we’ve been able to help you find lots of useful, in-depth wine information. Thanks for using Able Grape, thanks for helping us get the word out, and thanks for all the great suggestions and ideas. Please keep them coming!

It’s been a fantastic year meeting all of you — even if virtually — through our shared love of wine.

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas, and I look forward to serving you even better in 2009.

Doug Cook

VdV #20 – le “roundup” des vins de Thanksgiving

Je veux remercier tous les gens qui ont participé à la dégustation de Thanksgiving. J’étais content de voir la gamme d’interpretations du thème un peu “ouvert.” Voici le “roundup” des posts!

  • Matlebat a degusté un Côte Rôtie 2006 de René Rostaing avec une soupe au potiron et bacon (alliance classique de Syrah et bacon!) Voir le post.
  • Julien Marchand, dans sa première participation aux Vendredis du Vin, dit “merci” aux bonnes recommandations qu’il a eu récemment, avec une bonne citation d’un livre de Michael Pollan que je dois absolument lire, et publie ses notes de dégustation des vins recommandés. Voir le post.
  • Selon Rémy (ou bien Rémy), l’animateur des Vendredis du Vin, en disant “merci,” il “convient avant tout de regarder près de soi.” Donc il a pensé a un vin rouge québécois, la Cuvée Julien 2006 du Domaine les Brome. Voir le post.
  • Olivier Lebaron, pensant à l’idée de la fête, se dirige vers les petites bulles, mais nous amène vers un vin hors des sentiers battus: le Crémant de Limoux “Joséphine” du Domaine les Hautes Terres. Voir le post.
  • Iris Lisson a rangé des belles photos d’une joyeuse fête entre amis vignerons il y a près de vingt ans, et nous a posé une devinette: qui sont les gens representés dans les photos? Voir le post.
  • Olif, parlant de nôtre fête nord-américaine “où la dinde aux canneberges canne sur les berges et où les tartes au potiron aux potes iront aussi,” dit merci à plus ou moins tout et à tous dans son post. Il déguste un Sauvignon qui s’appelle — ahem — “Merci,” tout en le remerciant, naturellement, de la Grange aux Belles. Voir le post.
  • FGsuperfred a degusté un bon 2004 Mourvèdre de Jean-Louis Denois, avec un rapport qualité/prix excellent. Voir le post.
  • Selon toon, le bon Château Cantenac 2003 représente parfaitement l’amitié de la famille qui le produit. Voir le post.
  • Et finalement, moi, j’ai décrit la belle fête que j’ai passé cette année avec mes amis. Le thème le plus “évident” des posts, mais quand même, j’espère, un post divertissant. Voir le post.

Si j’ai oublié quelqu’un, je vous prie de me faire savoir! Tous les blogues, tous les producteurs, tous les vins des posts, s’il ne sont pas déja dans la base de données d’Able Grape, y seront d’ici quelques jours. Merci encore une fois, et à bientôt!


What are all these posts in French?

Some of you may be wondering why the Able Grape blog is suddenly peppered with french posts. My Québecois friend Rémy Charest, author of the excellent blogs À Chacun sa Bouteille (in French) and The Wine Case (in English), is also the force behind the tasting group Les Vendredis du Vin (a great French-language wine blogging community, a bit like Wine Blogging Wednesday, but, um, well, on Fridays instead because “Mercoledis du Vin” just sounds crappy), and asked if I’d like to lead this month’s dégustation. So I sat around, as Julian of Bubble Brothers nicely put it, slaving over a hot dictionary, putting together a couple of hopefully interesting and vaguely grammatically correct posts. It was a lot of fun, and a great chance to work on my French.

One of the things I most love about Able Grape is that it — like the world of wine itself — spans languages and cultures, and it’s been a great chance for me to connect with the wine community from all over the world. Coming soon will be Able Grape en Español, and improved versions of AG’s other languages… and as always, if you have comments, questions, or suggestions about how I can make Able Grape the best possible tool for you, please let me know.

PS: obligatory product plug: Able Grape knows about both VdV and WBW as concepts, so you should get great results for these queries, though our weekly update frequency may miss the very most recent posts.

VdV #20: les vins de Thanksgiving

phil2J’ai passé ce Thanksgiving chez mon vieil ami Phil (ici à gauche), un Écossais, gourmand, amateur de vin, avec un coeur aussi grand que New York City (même s’il fait semblant d’être un petit peu grincheux). Je ne connaissais pas bien les autres 12-13 invités, mais nous étions unis par la fête même et l’amitié commune avec Phil, donc ils m’ont accepté comme si nous étions de la famille; nous avons causé, bu, mangé, (bu un p’tit peu plus), toute la soirée, pendant que Phil dansait entre la table et la petite cuisine à côté, cuisinant un repas exceptionnel: dinde aux canneberges, un gratin de cardons (mmmm), une salade de fenouil, une soupe aux lentilles… Moi, j’ai apporté la tarte aux pacanes et quelques bouteilles de vin. Voici les notes de dégustation des meilleurs vins:
Continue reading ‘VdV #20: les vins de Thanksgiving’

Able Grape, a wine information search engine