Unless you’re a sommelier, figuring out which wine to buy at the grocery store (red? white? rose? sparkling? orange?) can be more of a random choice than anything else.
Milwaukee-based startup Bright Cellars is trying to make the whole “figuring-out-which-wine-to-buy” thing a little easier with its B2C wine subscription service which matches consumers with bottles curated to their taste. Yesterday, the company announced that it had raised an $8.5 million Series A round led by Revolution Ventures (hat tip to Techcrunch). This brings Bright Cellar’s total funding to $13.5 million.
To determine which wines are the best match for your palate, Bright Cellars first has users take a quiz, asking about things like your chocolate preference and your favorite boozy drink (besides wine, of course). The algorithm then matches you with four bottles that are the best fit for your taste and delivers them to your door in a monthly subscription. Consumers can also give ratings and feedback on their wines, which Bright Cellar uses to tweak their future selections.
All of that feedback equates to a bunch of juicy data. Each time someone rates their Bright Cellars wines, the company is getting a coveted peek into consumers’ wine-drinking preferences. So it’s not exactly surprising that TechCrunch reported that in addition to sending you curated wine bundles, Bright Cellars is also using consumer data to create its own white label wines with undisclosed partners. Since they know so much about what their customers buy, they can create only varietals they know will sell — and then presumably they can continue to collect data on their wines through Bright Cellar reviews.
Even with its basic offering, Bright Cellars is capitalizing hardcore on two big consumer trends: personalization and convenience.
It’s no secret that people are thirsty to have every. last. thing. shipped to their doorstep — wine included. To feed the demand, everyone from small retailers to grocery giants like Kroger are doing just that. British company Garçon Wines has even figured out how to make flat-pack wines that are so thin they can slide right through your mail slot, so you don’t have to worry about package theft.
On the personalization side, several companies are working to find the perfect bottle(s) of vino to fit your tastes. Last year online wine search engine Wine-Searcher launched a chat bot to help lead consumers to their ideal bottle. Denmark-based Vivino lets users take a photo of a wine label and gives them in-depth details, consumer ratings, and an option for online purchase. Just last month, B2B wine recommendation service Wine Ring partnered with Signature Kitchen Suite to develop a wine fridge that tracks your bottles and uses data to make suggestions based on consumers’ in-app wine profiles and their collections.
Bright Cellar’s service costs $80 for monthly four-bottle delivery. For someone like me who rarely buys wine over $12 (sorry), this is a little costly. True oenophiles might also shy away from the service, opting for something like Vinsent, which gives people early access to exclusive wines. But for those who want some guidance and don’t mind paying for it — and who really value convenience — Bright Cellars might be worth a shot.