Imagine a magical tool that would bring together -- in a single location -- myriad information sources that fuel your passion for wine. An online (or mobile, for that matter) destination that collects on your behalf all manner of insightful information designed to keep you up to date -- on a moment to moment basis -- with everything you never even thought you may have wanted to know about vino. The best part? You could consume as much, or as little, of this wine-soaked content as you wanted; with little more than a flick of your fingertip, you'd be able to browse, delete or bookmark for later perusal at your leisure.
Welcome to Twitter, people.
If you can't count yourself amongst the nearly one-half million Twitter users just yet, fear not. Taking advantage of this unbelievably powerful tool is easier than you'd imagine. In fact, there's nothing wrong with being a completely passive user (aka a Twitter "voyeur"), keeping your thoughts -- er, tweets -- to yourself while watching the rest of the wine world's conversation. But if our own recent foray into the Twitterverse is any indication, we're betting that once you get a taste of how interesting, satisfying and straight-up entertaining using Twitter to expand your wine lifestyle can be, you'll be hooked. Below, our top seven reasons to become a card-carrying member of the Twitterati:
1. Follow the wineries you love: You've purchased countless bottles from them, made the trek to their tasting room and been a member of their wine club for years. Why not use Twitter to keep up with the happenings of the brands you're a fan of? Wineries tweet about everything from their rosé release dates to barrel tasting events to how to pair their wines with your dinner.
2. Get to know -- and chat with -- your favorite winemakers: A more intimate version of the winery-specific information stream above, following specific winemakers gives you a-day-in-the-life access to what it takes to actually produce the wines that end up in your cellar. Tweets we've seen cover topics like how the weather is affecting the grapes or how the bottling of this year's chardonnay is going. Winemakers love to talk about their wines -- shocker! -- so shoot them a question or a comment and chances are good you'll get a response.
3. Get the juice on wine events: From local to global, seminars to sample tastings -- every minute of every day, there's a wine event happening somewhere. Best of all? There are tons of free wine-related activities you could be taking part in -- and Twitter will tell you all about them. Insider trick: Create a list specifically designed to help you find events in your area (super helpful when you're on the road, by the way) by using a hashtag (#) search. Example: Entering the terms #Denver and #wine will return every single tweet containing those words -- many of which are bound to be event-related.
4. Stay up on wine industry trending topics: Twitter positively exploded during last year's scandal involving the resignation of the Wine Advocate writer Jay Miller over payola allegations. While this is perhaps the most scintillating example of a wine-related trending topic, on any given day the wine world is buzzing with snippets on everything from James Beard award winners to the changing price of Bordeaux futures.
5. Browse news from wine media: Seems like everyone who's anyone in the wine media has a Twitter account and is using it to share real-time commentary on all things vino. Wine Spectator, Decanter and Wine & Spirits are just a handful of the print publications with lively Twitter streams; online sources like Terroirist.com and Keeper Collection.com tweet feverishly alongside vaunted wine critic Robert Parker and author Jay McInerney. Bonus: Tweets from these tweeps tend to be much, much juicier than their printed words.
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6. Join a Twitter taste-off: One of the most interactive ways to use Twitter is to virtually participate in national and international events dedicated to celebrating a particular variety or region, like #LanguedocDay (dedicated to increasing awareness of wines produced in this area of southeastern France) or #AlbarinoDay (which just happens to be today). Log in and "see" what's in the glass of oenophiles around the world while sharing your own tasting notes about what's in yours.
7. Bond with fellow wine-loving tweeps: Twitter connects everyone from award-winning sommeliers to complete strangers and everything in between. In a sense, Twitter is the great equalizer: it matters not whether you're on your first bottle of bubbly or your millionth. Everyone is joined together by a shared love of wine and everything that goes with into living a wine lifestyle -- and there's simply no better way to spread the gospel of that lifestyle than via Twitter.