Archive for the 'Site updates' Category

Able Grape Update is now Live!

I’m very excited to announce that after months of work, Able Grape‘s first major update in a year went live last week at the European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna (whence comes the picture of the beautiful Wachau, at left). Though the site looks the same (for the moment!), behind the scenes there are many, many improvements in relevance, not the least of which is the size of Able Grape’s database, which now counts 26 million pages of wine information from nearly 47,000 different sites. Here are some examples of nifty features. I encourage you to try them all to see the kinds of things you can do, and to learn some hidden search tricks. The links will all open in a different window so you can keep reading through the examples.

  • Tributes to, and information about, the great Marcel Lapierre, who just passed away.
  • Information about the grape variety Blauer Wildbacher, used to make Schilcher
  • Find maps of the Côte de Beaune. Able Grape now includes all the maps from Jancis Robinson and Hugh Johnson’s excellent World Atlas of Wine – something you won’t find in Google. You will need a subscription to Jancis’s site to view the content.
  • Find what grape varieties went into the Zahel Sekt we had at the European Wine Bloggers Conference. Note that the grape varieties in this field blend (Gemischter Satz) show right in the search summaries, so you don’t even have to click to get the answer. Note the magic search term “anyvariety,” a wildcard which will match any grape variety. If you just type “Zahel Gemischte Satz vareties,” Able Grape will suggest this as an alternative.
  • Get information about Cornas, one of the world’s outstanding appellations for Syrah. You won’t find the excellent reference from the Oxford Companion to Wine and the official appellation regulations from the INAO on Google!.
  • Find all the producers of Semillon in Austria. I was inspired to try this by Philipp Blom‘s excellent book, The Wines of Austria. Blom mentions a Sémillon and says that it is the only one he knows of in Austria. Here are several more (though a couple are just producers that mention Sémillon on their site). To get these results, I typed Sémillon, then filtered by region (Austria) and by topic (Producer).
  • Find Virginia grape statistics. Able Grape has greatly expanded coverage of US industry statistics. Among other things, it will take you straight to the USDA’s “Quickstats” tool (see results 5 and 6) to generate ad-hoc statistics for any state or county in the US (no, you won’t find these results in Google, either).
  • Get information about the DO Pago Finca Élez.
  • Get trade press about millennials. To get these results, I just typed “millennials” and filtered by the topic “Trade Press.”
  • See tasting notes for 2003 Château Montrose. Again, just type “2003 Montrose” and then click on “Tasting Notes” in the Topic Filter section.

Suggestions? Comments? Observations? All are welcome. As always, Able Grape is a work in progress – in the process of updating things I’ve made a long list of things I want to make better. Lots more coming soon.


Can you hear the banging and clanking?

You may have noticed that Able Grape has gone a few months without any significant changes. That’s because I was off working with the fine folks at Twitter building some new search technology. During that time, of course, the wine world has changed quite a bit, meaning that sometimes Able Grape has had missing or out-of-date results.

Recently, you may have heard some banging and clanking in the boiler room – that’s because I’m back, and working on a huge update, which is coming soon. Stay tuned!

If you want to keep up with our changes (and my travels, tastings, and silly foreign-language puns), please follow me on Twitter. Cheers!

Able Grape Is Not Google

duvernayPardon the silly title, but with all the buzz on Bing (“Bing Is Not Google”) I just couldn’t help myself. And please, no silly questions about whether or not I’m going to change Able Grape‘s name to “Aging…”

It’s been unbelievably busy here at Able Grape central, and I’ve been quite remiss on my blogging. Hoping to get back to a more regular pace soon! In the mean time, here’s a quick update on recent changes.

This morning, I put live Able Grape’s largest — and, hopefully, best — database ever, clocking in at nearly 20 million pages of wine information from just shy of 41,000 websites. Lots and lots of new sites, and lots of improvements across the board.

Here’s a smattering of examples. Try them — they’ll open in a separate window — and compare to Google (or to Bing, for that matter) – I hope you’ll be pleased. Continue reading ‘Able Grape Is Not Google’

Spiffy new language features!

Hi, folks, just put live a new release with some significant improvements in how Able Grape handles languages. Here’s what’s new:

  • Language detection (the accuracy of those little flags on the results) is vastly improved.
  • You can now change your preferred language from any page. Just use the pull-down menu at the far upper right.
  • Results are now slightly biased towards your preferred language. First, set your preferred language in the user preferences or change it using the pull-down menu. Now Able Grape will still show you the most relevant results in any language, but in the case where two similar results are available, and one is in your language, Able Grape will prefer the one in your language. You can see this, for example, in the results for Taurasi in Italian, and the results for Taurasi in English, or between Côte Rôtie in English and Côte Rôtie in French.
  • The Yahoo and Google search facilities (to the right of the search box, try them!) will now use your preferred language. In other words, if you’re using Able Grape in French, the Yahoo and Google links will search in French as well.
  • Last, and most exciting: Able Grape’s Spanish version, courtesy of the fantastic translation services of Carolina Ramos, is up and running. There are a couple of small glitches we’re still working out (my fault, not Carolina’s!) but it should in general work very well.

Able Grape beta 3, coming soon, will have additional sophisticated language features, by popular request. In the mean time, as always, don’t hesitate to let me know should you have comments or suggestions!

Some fun new things

I’ve been updating the database more frequently, and with less fanfare, recently. But every once in a while it’s nice to point out some of the new sites, or small new improvements and features, that have quietly crept in. Here are some fun queries to try. I encourage you to compare with Google using the “Google” link next to the search box. And I also recommend trying the “reuse a second window” preference, it’s a faster way to explore your search results!

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anything missing? Drop me a note.

Spiffy new update with lots of great content

These barricas have some really great content, too.

  Speaking of really great content...

I’ve been accumulating a big list of things I want to blog about, from the great trip to the EWBC, to some outstanding recent tastings, to sharing some of the Able Grape survey results, and every day for the past couple of weeks I’ve promised myself “tonight I’m going to sit down and do some serious blogging.” I’ve even partially written a few posts. But every evening, some other task has reared its ugly head, and I’ve yet to complete any of the posts that have been running around in my head. So I wanted to dash off a brief “update” post, while I make time for more in-depth ones, to come in the next few days.

First, I wanted to thank everyone that participated in our recent survey. I really, really appreciate your taking the time to let me know what you need, search-wise. I plan to post some preliminary results in the coming days, just to share some statistics about our user community. Lots of people have since said they’d like to have done the survey. I’ll probably re-open it, though not as a contest, so that I can continue to track feedback from anyone who’d like to contribute.

Second, I wanted to post a brief “blurb” about today’s database update, along with the usual smattering of things to try. We’re up to 38,578 sites, with more than 15 million pages of content. There are dozens of new sources, and few hundred thousand new pages. Here’s a random sample: Continue reading ‘Spiffy new update with lots of great content’

More new features: help finding images, importers, distributors

Many of you know that the easiest way to find importers or distributors for a wine is to use a filter, e.g. Moët filtered by Trade to find importers/distributors. But I still see a fair number of queries come in like Bruno Giacosa Importer or Aldo Conterno Importer. These will look for the word “importer,” which sometimes gives good results, especially when the producer lists their importers on their site, but often misses the best results. To help with these kinds of queries, Able Grape will now suggest a filter as a query tip.

I’ve also gotten many requests for an image search functionality, and indeed I see a lot of queries coming in like Continue reading ‘More new features: help finding images, importers, distributors’

Fun experimental feature: Variety Finder

I see a lot of people trying to find out what kinds of grape varieties are used to make particular appellations or specific wines. The natural way to form a query like this would be something like Chateauneuf varieties or La Conseillante varieties — and indeed, sometimes these kinds of queries work well, especially since Able Grape recognizes some obvious synonyms for varieties (“cultivars,” “varietals,” even “cépages” or “vitigni”). But often the answer doesn’t contain the word “varieties,” it just has a list of varieties, as in “Châteauneuf is made primarily from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.”

So to help with these kinds of queries, I’ve added a little experimental feature: Continue reading ‘Fun experimental feature: Variety Finder’

A nice update, and a message to our community

"a vos problèmes, nous apportons des solutions"It’s always hard to write about database updates for Able Grape. In even the smallest update, there are so many new sites, and so many little improvements, that I never know what to single out for mention. So I pick a tiny smattering of things, to give you a flavor of what’s new, and a few fun sites to explore, hoping to neither bore you out of your mind nor to step on anyone’s toes by leaving them out.

Today’s update is no different. There are almost 400 new sites since the beta 2 launch a couple of weeks ago, bringing us to a total of 38,682 sites by the “old way” of counting, though I’ve just switched to a more stringent way of accounting, so let’s call it 38,315. In any case, it’s 400,000 new pages, bringing us to nearly 14 million wine documents! Here’s a sampler of some goodies: Continue reading ‘A nice update, and a message to our community’

Welcome to Able Grape Beta 2!

Welcome to Able Grape beta 2. It’s been six months since we launched our first beta release, and though we’ve been improving Able Grape almost weekly since then, beta 2 represents a huge step forward in terms of functionality. Here’s a quick overview of what’s new:

  • New UI. We’ve redesigned the page to be easier to read, and so that we can help you get the best results, we’ve created a space in which Able Grape can have a dialogue with you.
  • Query Tips. We dug into thousands of user queries to understand what kinds of mistakes people make — and what kinds of mistakes we make. Beta 2 bears the first fruits of that work. Able Grape now freqently suggests alternative queries to help you get the best results. This is just a start — now that we’ve laid the groundwork for query suggestions in both the UI and our software architecture, we plan to aggressively develop additional “query tips” in the coming months (suggestions welcome, as always).
  • Improved home page. We’ve tightened up the home page a bit, and now give you suggestions for a few things to make your Able Grape experience better (if you want to make the suggestions go away, just join the Able Grape community).
  • Larger database and improved relevance. We’re constantly growing the database and improving the quality of our results, and beta 2 is no exception: we’ve reached well over 13 million pages across 38,313 sites, and the quality of search results has never been better.
  • Improved architecture. Yeah, we software types always like to talk about improving things under the hood, but there are concrete benefits for you, the user. Beta 2 has new, more powerful concept database that is allowing us to rapidly build out features based on article dates — soon to come, by popular request — and eventually will let us do fun things with concepts like yields, vineyard areas, percentages, production volumes, and even wine scores.

Here are a handful of query examples to try: Continue reading ‘Welcome to Able Grape Beta 2!’

Able Grape, a wine information search engine