Transparency can often be a bitter pill for businesses to swallow, and a recent example in the Netherlands is providing a vivid illustration. Launched in March, Sterwijnenthuis is a web shop that sells the very same wines that top-rated restaurants serve, but at dramatically lower prices. The result is that some restaurateurs have threatened legal action.

Working from the wine lists of the top 60 Dutch restaurants, Sterwijnenthuis now sells about 350 of the same bottles online at prices starting at EUR 5.80. Not only that, but next to each wine it sells the site lists the name of the restaurant whose wine list it came from. Also available on Sterwijnenthuis are sommelier advice and taste test results. Though Sterwijnenhuis founder Gijs den Hollander argues that his site uses only publicly available information and that it presents an opportunity for restaurateurs to increase confidence in their brands, restaurants aren’t so sure. By making their markups on wine plain for all to see, the effort has drawn considerable outcry from the Dutch Alliance Gastronomique and individual restaurateurs, as can be seen in a recent report in the Telegraaf.

We’ve seen similar transparency brought to industries across the board, and there’s no denying the shock can be painful for the companies involved. The only strategy when that happens, however, is to embrace the new transparency your customers demand, as our sister site would point out. That way, instead of suffering under transparency tyranny, you can thrive on transparency triumph. An example to learn from!

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The British design firm Unreal is giving clients a curious Christmas gift this year: in-house designed, limited-run bottles of “Chilean Winers." As in Chilean miners. As in the guys who spent 69 days trapped in a mineshaft surviving on protein shakes and nicotine patches. Well… It's better than fruitcake!

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I've mentioned the growing hunger for French wine in Asia but California wine hasn't caught on quite as strongly yet. That could change with the launch of California Vintage, a new chain of California-themed wine bars that will open in Asia starting in the Central neighborhood in Hong Kong in January.

Decanter reports that the backers of the project are 22 California 'partner' wineries and a Hong Kong-based importer. The bar will offer 80 wines by the glass and all wines will come from the partner wineries including Fritz, Hope, Peachy Canyon and Tierra Roja. The wineries are all small, family-owned boutique wineries.

California Vintage plans to open 20 outlets across Asia in the next five years in Hong Kong as well as China, Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.

By Deidre Woollard | Source ::


Golfer Fred Couples and winemaker Mitch Cosentino have gotten into the wine business together, creating Couples & Co, a wine brand from pureCru Napa Valley. Wine reports that Couples first got into wine when he was in his 20s and started talking about a partnership with Cosentino in 2008. The first two offerings are a Super Tuscan style sangiovese and a Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon blend. The Couples & Co 2006 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $60 and the Couples & Co 2006 California Sangiovese is $32. Both wines have won several awards at wine competitions.

By Deidre Woollard | Source ::

Snooth Wine App

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A friend comes over and brings with him a bottle of wine, you've never seen this bottle before and are curious. If you've got your iPhone handy, in seconds you can snap a picture of the bottle and the new app from can tell you all about the wine. The new iPhone app, Snooth Wine Pro uses image recognition technology to help recognize any bottle of wine. Take a picture of a wine label, find the wine, and view maps, directions, and inventory of the stores closest to you, check out reviews and add the wine to your Wishlist or Virtual Cellar or purchase the wine online through the Snooth retail network.

"Snooth Wine Pro is the ultimate mobile tool for finding wine," said Philip James, CEO/Co-founder of "It can be difficult to remember an exact vintage and year, now just take a picture and let Snooth Wine Pro do the rest."

Snooth Wine Pro is available in the iTunes App Store for $4.99. Users can also install Snooth Wine, a free, ad-supported version.

By Deidre Woollard | Source ::

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