A while back the State of Montana decided to come out of the dark ages and allow the direct importation of wine by its residents. It opened up a whole new world of wine to many adventurous wine commoners like me. After the wine world opened up I bounced around a few websites and found options for case lots from a lot of different wineries, or options to join wine clubs and get their selection of the month. One day my wife got a groupon in one of the many “val-pac” type junk mailing we get at the house. We both laughed at this particular groupon; it came to her and she doesn’t like the acidity of alcohol and thus doesn’t drink. For reasons that I really don’t remember, I took the groupon and tossed it on the desk in my study.
Fast forward a couple of weeks and I am at the desk cleaning it off so I can do some writing and I stumble across the Naked Wines groupon. I am already at my computer so I pull up Naked Wines’ Website and in about an hour my life changes in many positive ways. I ordered an assorted case of wine, they gave me the groupon discount and upgraded my 12 bottle case to a 15 bottle case and let me pick 3 more wines at no additional cost and presto I wind up with 15 great bottles of wine for about $60.00 net out of pocket. Along the way I learn about the Naked Wines’ Crowd (cloud in their case) funding model that assists new wine makers get started and at the same time lets their Angels spend every dime they contribute to the cause on wine those same winemakers produce. It looks like a no lose deal to me so I agree to chip in $40 each month directly debited every month with the understanding (guarantee) that if I am not happy with the deal they will give me the money back at any time. I’m excited and happily waiting for my wine to arrive (five days later).
The same day I placed the order I got an e-mail from Naked Wines and I thought great the spam is starting already. To my surprise it was a nice introductory e-mail (canned I am sure) from the Founder Rowan Gormley welcoming me to the Naked Wines family of “Angels” and giving me the lowdown on how to get the most out of Naked Wines. I start exploring the Naked Wine Website and light on a group called Naked Newbies (that is no typo) and thought how corny can it get. I jump into the group (what the heck – it can’t hurt) introduce myself and almost immediately I got welcoming replies from a host of Angels and the conversation began. I have stayed involved in Naked Newbies ever since and I joined a number of their groups (forums to most) which include wine and cigars, winemakers, wine and food pairing and even a two year tasting group (led by a winemaker) that follows a single wine for two years to experience what winemakers do as they watch a wine mature. Being a part of the Naked Wine host of Angels is a little like being in a wine focused adults only Facebook or a LinkedIn. The social media aspects of the groups afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot about wine, meet a bunch of really nice people who I may never actually meet, but who have become good social friends.
The second part of this story really started when I got my first case of wine. I must digress a moment; when you go to a wine shop or a grocery store (the best wine selections in my city) you find the really good stuff at eye level (top shelf), the good stuff fills the shelves right below eye level (middle shelf), and the stuff in boxes and factory wines sit on the floor in front in cases or on the very bottom tier (lower shelf). Hey it is all about marketing and catching your eye. Well back to the story, I have a top shelf appetite and a middle to bottom shelf budget, so when the wine arrived, I had hopes that the wine would be okay. Well I was blown away, the Naked Wine marketing line about getting great new winemakers who want to produce boutique wines is no hype. They have done it in spades. I have never gotten a bad wine from them and I have gotten many that are better than anything I can buy off the top shelf and some occupy rare air, in a league with those special wines that they lock up in a glass front case at the wine store. These wine makers, from all over the world, produce small batches (2500 cases or less) exclusively for Naked Wines. The Angels buy it (actually anybody can buy it at retail) at reduced prices because there is minimal marketing cost to the winemaker or the consumer and because of the Angel funding mechanism. As a semi-retired executive, I get the business model and as a wine lover, I get great wine with no pressure or push. What’s not to like about the deal?
…”and now the rest of the story” (ala Paul Harvey). I have actually been able to get to know the winemakers of my favorite wines, and I converse with them regularly and get their perspective on the next vintages of their wines. Most interesting to me is that I get to rate and review their wines in a public forum that allows new Angels to see what I think and the winemakers respond to these reviews and actually ask questions about what I like and don’t (qualities of their wines) like about the particular wine and seem genuinely interested in what I as a consumer (not a professional taster) think. I have to tell you that rating a wine is easy (I either like it or I don’t), but reviewing them has been a pretty steep learning curve. What do I know of “nose” “tannins”, “bouquet” and how do I tell if a wine has notes of “pear”, “apple”, “black current” or “Cassis? Well I’ve learned from my fellow Angels and I’ve even surprised myself by sharing some of my knowledge acquired over about 50 years of world-wide business travel drinking wines I would never order for myself because of cost.
I owe the idea for this website and blog and my ability to really experience world class wines at reasonable prices to Naked Wines. I promise this website will not be a promotional venue for Naked Wines or any other winery or wine maker. It will be exactly what it’s billed to be, a place for ordinary folks like me and most of the other Naked Wines Angels to go for basic wine information without feeling like a question might be considered dumb or stupid. Nobody needs to worry about that, I’ve already asked all the dumb and stupid questions that anybody can think of that relates to wine.
One last note about Naked Wines and then I’ll quit singing their praises, if anybody decides to check out the sight, don’t buy anything until you let me know and I’ll make sure that you get a groupon like I did so you get the most bang for your buck if you decide to give them a try. If you do, you will have a great experience and will sample some fantastic wines.