The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

WineFriend – a NZ first 

Wine industry experts Yvonne Lorkin and Debbie Sutton.

Wine industry experts Yvonne Lorkin and Debbie Sutton.

WineFriend is New Zealand’s first and only online wine retailer to deliver curated cases of wine matched to individual customer preferences. The brainchild of FMCG Business columnist and Thirsty Work presenter Yvonne Lorkin and wine industry veteran Debbie Sutton, WineFriend takes the hassle and guesswork out of enjoying a great bottle of wine at a reasonable price.

WineFriend uses a simple eight question taste survey that gives insights in to a customer’s thresholds for sweet, sour, bitterness and intensity of flavour. It then creates a profile which enables it to select wines that are tailored to the individual customer’s tastes and deliver them to their door for around the same price as what they currently spend at the supermarket. 

The taste profile also allows Chief Tasting Officer (CTO) Yvonne Lorkin to include a ‘wild card’ wine in every delivery to extend customers’ wine tasting experiences. It could be a new variety, style, region or producer that they probably haven’t tried before but all with the framework of their individual taste preferences.

rsz_nzln-winefriend_delivering_curated_cases_of_wine_to_your_doorLorkin explains. “If 85% of people are buying their wine in the supermarket, much of it on promotion, then the traditional model of buying wine is broken.  It’s time for a shake-up. 

“We saw the way Airbnb and Uber have disrupted the accommodation and transport sectors by turning industry models on their heads and giving the power and convenience back to consumers. We thought it was about time someone did that for wine.”

According to Sutton wine is the largest choice space in the modern grocery store.

“It’s 10 times richer in terms of the number of options than breakfast cereals, the number two area, and much more complex. Wine buyers have never had it better in terms of the number of choices available from around the world. And they’ve never had it worse regarding the possibility of confusion and the pressure to find the perfect wine. It’s the ‘age of anxiety’ for wine.”

Lorkin adds, “It’s no wonder people leave the supermarket with the same old thing they always get, or they panic and take a total punt. The truth is that most people could use some help connecting with wines they can truly love.”

Customers are encouraged to rate their wines on the WineFriend website to refine their profile and ensure better matches. 

Lorkin explains, “Our taste survey is simply the starting point of the customer relationship. Deeper understanding of the styles of wine they like, and dislike, come with feedback. 

“It’s about encouraging an ongoing collaboration in order to fine-tune each customer’s profile. The more feedback we get, the better we get to know them and the better their wine matches are.” WineFriend offers three levels of subscriptions – Easy Everyday ($99), Treat Yourself ($149) and Icons and Innovators ($249) – on a monthly or two-monthly basis. Each case contains 6 different bottles of wine sourced from captivating local and international producers and delivery is free.