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The future of wine: AI to revolutionise wine-buying

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Wondering whether a Chardonnay pairs well with fish, or a nice juicy steak would work nicely with a Cabernet Sauvignon? In a few years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) would address these dilemmas for you, playing its part as a virtual sommelier, according to Robert Joseph, a wine expert, wine producer and author of an upcoming book on the future of wines.

UK-based Joseph, who has authored 25 books, including “The Complete Encyclopedia of Wine”, has keenly watched developments in India’s nascent wine industry and says that Kashmir, with its climate and abundance of water, could be ideal for developing vineyards.

Over the next few decades, the wine ecosystem would undergo a sea change, right from the manner in which consumers buy wine to involvement of machines in the production process and AI coming to the aid of wine buyers and enthusiasts when it comes to choosing the right vino.

“AI will revolutionise wine-buying. I am going to tell my digital assistant, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant or Siri that I want to buy a bottle of red wine and it will say to me, ‘Do you want to have the one you had last time?’ It knows you so well, what you like and what your friends like. And what AI doesn’t know today, it will learn, very fast,” Joseph told IANS on the sidelines of ‘Sula Selections: Globe in a Glass Roadshow 2017’ event here.

And of course, technology will determine the growth of the industry, right from the vineyards to sales.

“Self-drive cars mean we will not have to worry about drinking and driving, spurring consumption. Labour is a big problem in the US and Europe. It will be possible to automate a vineyard completely within 5 to10 years. Robots will do the whole thing. Already we are getting drones to do the flying over the vineyards, which can tell you which vines need water or treating,” said Joseph, who is a partner at le Grand Noir wines in France.

“Machines will do a lot of the judging (wine tasting). They can judge between an OK wine and a not-so-Ok wine pretty effectively,” he said, adding that there would still be scope for human discernment.

But wine critics, he said, would be more and more redundant with peer reviews replacing the formal art of wine criticism.

“We are going to see different kinds of wines, like fruit-flavoured wines; you will see a lot more wine cocktails. You are going to see packaging changes. Bottles don’t need to be 75 centiliters big. That is the size, because it was the lung capacity of the French glass-blower 300 years ago. There’s no God who defined the size. We are going to see wines in single serves and big bottles,” he said.

Joseph also marked out climate change as one of the key challenges for the wine industry, with alterations in weather patterns even possibly threatening the holy turf of wine-making — France and Italy.

“It’s going to be very, very interesting and potentially going to be challenging. In established regions like Bordeaux, Burgundy and Loire, it is questionable whether they are going to be growing the same grapes. That’s a really big question and there is some experimentation going on, but not enough,” he said.

Wines from the popular French regions, he said, are already tasting different. “Grapes are much riper than they used to be. But it’s just not about warming. That means there are going to be places which are going to be warmer, which are not warmer. English wines are starting to benefit already, maybe, Iceland, who knows? That’s a dramatic change. We will see more vineyards going into the hills in lots of places, which includes India,” he said.

Kashmir, he said, could be the place where Indian wine industry may eventually head to. “If you want to be really futuristic and optimistic, one day Kashmir will be an interesting place to grow grapes,” he said.



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