October 15, 2012

Winetube

Columbia Business School alumni are proving that the wine industry is ripe for innovation.

Simone Silverbush

When Chris Riccobono ’07 (EMBA) was at the 2009 Bordeaux “en primeur” tastings — where barrel samples of the newest vintage are previewed by wine merchants, brokers, and critics before they are bottled and brought to market — he noticed that he was one of the only people there with a video camera.

Riccobono was making short videos for his recently launched video blog, Pardon That Vine, which today features more than 500 videos of wine tastings and reviews, interviews with winemakers, and mini-tutorials on how to taste wine. “I knew that video was going to be a part of every business — even wine education,” says Riccobono.

Part of the appeal of the blog — which quickly won thousands of followers, not to mention requests for reviews from winemakers around the world — is its casual approach. Most of the videos feature a casually dressed Riccobono, seated in his Hoboken kitchen, swirling wine around his mouth and then plainly describing what he tastes. Riccobono invites viewers to buy a wine that he has reviewed and then taste it along with him.

“Traditional wine courses can make things way too complicated — for example, students may spend a lot of time talking about the different sides of the tongue,” says Riccobono. “For me, that takes the fun out of it. I want people to think about wine on more basic terms.”

Untuck your shirt. In June Riccobono launched UNTUCKit, a men’s fashion company that designs shirts to be worn untucked — with styles named after wines. The brand has already been highlighted by the Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

Bring your own wine. “People don’t seem to know that most of the time in New York City you can bring your own wine to a restaurant, even when there’s a wine list. Often you’ll get better value: you’ll pay maybe a $30 corkage fee for bringing an $80 bottle of wine rather than drinking a $20 bottle of wine that cost you $100.”

Illustration by Scotty Reifsnyder

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