Marketing Brilliance: "Discover Wine"

I'm not usually a huge fan of Robert Mondavi for the same reasons that I don't hold any special affection for many mass market companies, but at least with volume come the benefits of a sizeable marketing budget. I haven't typically been all that impressed with Mondavi's output in that department either--though obviously it works--but when a site comes along that offers enough genuinely interesting and useful content to make the marketing message palatable and cast the product in a better light, you have to tip your hat. Such is the case with a new site by Robert Mondavi Private Selection: Discover Wine!. The site makes wine tasting fun and accessible to the average Mondavi consumer and the broader budding wine enthusiast population with tasting basics and creative party kits that include how-to guides and customizable invitations from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Ted Allen. By far my favorite part of the site though is the interactive Wine Aroma Wheel.

This appears to be one of the only places online that you can view the Wine Aroma Wheel created by former Davis professor Ann C. Noble in 1990. The wheel breaks down the common essences in wine, from the broad (fruity, woody, chemical...) to the specific (tobacco, fig, sauerkraut...). For all of us who have struggled with the right words to describe a wine's impact, here's the key. And, if you can't remember what kind of wine most often has some quality you like, the Wheel can highlight the typical essences in common varietals. I'm not too proud to print out the various versions and keep them around for reference.Unfortunately, as en entirely Flash site, there is no way to link directly to the Wine Aroma Wheel. To find it, go to Discover Wine! and click "Enter." Click the "Party Toolbox" link on the right, then the "Wine Aroma Wheel" link on the left. The Wine Aroma Wheel Web Portal offers a User's Guide. You can also buy a laminated plastic version of the Aroma Wheel from InnoVinum for $6.95 plus shipping and handling.