Having a good old wine

Imagine you've got a brand to sell. You've only got a limited amount of stock, but are going up against around 20,000 other products, all of which are only slightly different to your own. On top of that, it's quite difficult to get it stocked in major retailers, who pick a few different brands and often drop prices far lower than you can go. Oh, and the majority of people aren't really sure what the differences are between the different brands. Sounds like a bit of a problem, doesn't it? And, if truth be told, it's probably not massively differnt from the issues facing the wine industry in this day and age.

It's the reason that Rob MacIntosh from The Wine Conversation is a great proponent of taking wine into the social media arena and energising the conversation to raise awareness of the different types of wine.

It's also the reason why he sponsored the December London Blogger meetup, where he told the assembled crowd of the challenges facing the wine industry and why they need to engage in social media outlets.

When you think about it, this approach makes sense. Wine enthusiasts, as Becky notes, are equally as excitable and as obsessive as, say, music fans.

But while there's plenty of huge music sites and blogs, Rob told the assembled crowd that the wine blogging community is, in relative terms, still very small.

It's a huge challenge facing Rob, other wine ethusiasts, and small vineyards that produce some excellent wines. But social media is an excellent way of getting the message out there. Where there's a niche, there's a community. And where there's a community, you'll get curious bystanders.

With review sites and sharing among the forefront of Web 2.0, if the formula is right, there's no reason why searching for a good wine to unwind with or to go well with your Sunday roast shouldn't be as simple as finding a good restaurant via Google.

It's one of the reasons the London blogger meetups are such a good evening. As well as an opportunity to meetup with other bloggers - familiar and not so familiar faces - it always provides food (and drink) for thought.

And, of course, there's always plenty of drink. In this case, wine.

Rob had arranged a wine-tasting session after the talk, with a great variety to try. Sadly, I had no notebook and can't remember the exact labels of them, but the Rioja was excellent and the Riesling went down a treat as well.

I also had a brief chat with Rob about UK wines - still shunned in some quarters. Me, I was converted after trying a rose from the Yearlstone Vineyard in Devon.

Again, it was another fantastic night and I ended up having a few more glasses than planned, but it was great to chat to Becky "You're not leaving yet" McMichael, Chris Reed (who took more notes than me on the wines), Jaz Cummins and Wadds. Another great night, and I know what to bring to the dinner table for Christmas this year.