“Sommely” A Digital Sommelier for Wine Enthusiasts

We recently had the opportunity to meet Marcelino Alvarez, CEO and Founder of the Portland-based design firm; Uncorked Studios to learn about the firm’s new internal product currently in development. Sommely is an elegant solution to help wine enthusiasts track their collection and help in choosing the right wine for a meal by utilizing bluetooth enabled smart “caps.”

How to Find the Right Wine at the Right Time
Article by Marcelino Alvarez

As Melanie stepped into the house, she turned to the left, taking a flight of stairs down to the wine cellar. She walked into the dimly lit room and quickly rummaged through the rack in the basement — tucked away between the Christmas ornaments and electric cords — in search of the perfect bottle. Among the taped receipts, tags hanging from some (but not all) bottles, she found her wine of choice. As she ascended the stairs and walked onto the back patio to join her husband Craig, she opened the bottle and poured the two a glass. In the midst of discussing the inner workings of the day, she took her first sip of Syrah—it was in that moment that she appreciated the little things in life.

Although the wine industry is vast, it has seen little innovation over the years. And while enthusiasts may desire an experience unencumbered by technology, the lack of innovation can deter them from what they want: to enjoy their wine. As evidenced by traditional home tracking systems, which are very archaic and typically utilize spreadsheets, sticky notes or tags that hang around the neck of each wine bottle, enthusiasts need a better way to manage and understand their collections in a simple, accessible and intuitive way.

Traditional systems require a lot of attention, as information needs to be manually entered and removed every time, which can result in less information about the wines being tracked. Beyond that, because these systems don’t update automatically, if information is missed, it can throw off the tracking moving forward. Also, in the most basic sense, it can be difficult to find wine in a collection with these tracking methods, because enthusiasts have to go through each label, tag or note by hand.

Sommely was created to solve these problems and more. It is a smart wine tracking system that educates users by recommending the perfect bottle for any occasion through smart caps that light up and are connected to an app. The app can filter by everything from drinkability and vintage to price point and pairings—so enthusiasts can get the most out of their collections by finding the right bottle, no matter where it may be hiding.

For example, if a collector wanted to know what is drinkable right now and what’s not, they would simply go into the app and select drinkability. The wines that are drinkable would light up in green and the ones that aren’t would light up in red. Or, if the collector wanted to drink a Merlot, they would select “Merlot” through the app and all the Merlots would light up with information about each specific bottle.

Sommely was not only created to help enthusiasts know what they have, but also to learn more about the wine they’re drinking. It offers a friendly guide to enjoying wine anytime by giving people permission to indulge while also supporting their curiosity.

While the product is still in the proof-of-concept phase, we fully intend on launching Sommely for consumer use. Sign up on our site to stay updated on Sommely’s  progress.

Marcelino Alvare

Marcelino J. Alvarez is the founder and CEO of Uncorked Studios, a product design firm located in Portland, Ore.—the company is focused on the intersection between people and the physical environments in which they use products.

Uncorked collaborates with some of the world’s top brands, including Google, Intel, and Adidas, to build products with purpose. The agency has also worked with a number of nonprofits and social impact organizations, including the Bezos Family Foundation, the March of Dimes and the Magnum Foundation.

Previously, Marcelino served as Executive Interactive Producer at Wieden + Kennedy. He produced the Nike Chalkbot, a robot that printed messages of hope and inspiration on the Tour de France in 2009 and 2010.

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