A preference for blackberries or a dislike of coffee: what does it tell you about the wines you enjoy? How much is nurture versus nature is still uncertain, but the further scientists dig into DNA, the more they understand how much taste preferences could be defined by genes.
When we first met the Healdsburg, California-based Vinome team, we were doubtful if DNA could help consumers better understand their wine preferences. Vinome’s system of taste profiling involves taking a short flavour quiz, and then mailing in a test tube of saliva, from which DNA will be sequenced.
Vinome, launched this August, works in partnership with Silicon Valley-based internet platform Helix, a genome sequencing company that has developed a genetics app store. Customers pay $80.00 for gene sequencing, which can then be used in tandem with their other products, to offer insights into things like ideal sleep patterns, ancestry or health and nutrition information. Many of those applications cost approximately $30.00 each.
Brave New World
Every wine sales site is looking for a magic bullet that will help them determine what wines their customers would like to buy. However, the Vinome approach is unique in using genetic data. The company then offers new customers wine made by its partner wineries, which it claims are boutique bottles perfectly matched to the customers’ genetic preferences. So it is also functioning as a direct-to-consumer sales vehicle for domestic wineries, most of which are based in California.
The current eight taste profiles that Vinome currently offers are a little too broad; however, the company hopes to both expand them and hone them down once it gets more genetic data.
Our test results were mostly spot on, with my major profile being “The Big Bold,” meaning “coffee, chocolate, smoke, tannins and leather.” Our secondary flavor profile was the “Jam Dunk,” which is focused on big, jammy flavors. I like some of these flavors, but in moderation and with balance. The results are indicated pictorially, with different ingredients pictured inside bubbles. The larger the circle, the more you like that food taste.