WinesandRecipes.com Phone System Success Story
RingCentral interviewed Jon Holland, founder of WinesandRecipes.com, an innovative Web-based tool that helps shoppers in grocery and wine stores pair wines with cheese and recipes.
What is WinesandRecipes.com?
Jon: WinesandRecipes.com is a marriage of Internet technology and in-store kiosk technology that stores can use to help consumers find wines that meet their needs regarding price, wine type, and taste characteristics, and it matches their food and cheese choices. The kiosks only give information to consumers about products that are in the store.
Where do you get your information?
Jon: We have 20 different sources working with us: wine experts, recipe developers, chefs, cheese experts...They supply the information on wines, cheese pairings, and recipes that are in our database. We also reference published articles about wine, winemaker notes, reports, and online recipe sources.
How did you come up with this idea?
Jon: I conceived of it three years ago on Father's Day while driving with family and a friend to pick up a boat in Florida. We were bouncing around ideas, and noted that there was this confusion in the market about wine. We thought it would be great to have in-store information available to consumers: Why rely on sales help, which doesn't even exist in a grocery store environment? And when you're in a store, holding the wine, you're not going to remember all that information you read about it. WinesandRecipes.com lets you scan the bottle and tells you whether it's a good price and if it meets your taste requirements. Then it gives you cheeses and recipes to go with it.
Most people just look at the label.
Jon: A lot of consumers that make wine-buying decisions look at the price and the label, which is the absolute wrong way to do it. They buy wine that have wine labels with animals - ducks and kangaroos.
Now they can scan the bottle and make a better decision about what they want to buy.
I can pair wine with cheese or recipes using your tool, but can I pair a meal I plan to make for dinner with a wine in the store?
We're currently creating a meal match tool, which will match wines with the meal you're planning to make. For instance if you're making Chicken Marsala, it will pair a wine with the poultry, the sauce, etc., and make recommendations.
Can you give me an example of nice pairing?
Jon: Yes. Rose' is an up and coming wine that people don't know a lot about. It's great cold with barbecue! For the White Zinfandel drinkers who are scared to try anything else, Rose' provides a bridge. The other night I went out and bought 3 or 4 bottles of Rose': American, Italian, sparkling, and one from the Cotes du Rhone. They were $10 to $15 bottles and we paired them with 4 or 5 cheeses, chocolate and strawberries. We were just chatting and noticed that the chocolate with the sparkling Rose' was similar to chocolate covered cherries. Delicious.
So you taste the wines, too?
Jon: I do regular tastings. We felt that the cheese pairings with the Rose' that Raymond Hook (their cheese guru) did were great for the French wines but didn't go so well with the Italian and sparkling wines. We had to go back to the drawing board with him to make sure those cheeses are paired to that region and varietal. Last night, we tried a Spanish Rose'. It went well with the brie and the St. Andre' cheeses.
Do you have a background in the wine industry?
Jon: No, I'm a wine enthusiast, following my passion. I'm more on the business side of it. My business partner, Marshall, has more than 20 years industry experience on the technical side of wine. WinesandRecipes.com will satisfy the needs everyone, from the average consumer, who probably could care less about the particulars of Cotes du Rhone, to the expert who wants to find a Stag's Leap Cabernet. We have different palate ranges but enjoy the great complexity of wines and what goes well with certain foods.
Sounds as if you really are passionate about your work.
Jon: Yes, but it's interesting...people can be passionate about something: religion, politics, sexual orientation, for example, and they are unbending. But with wine, people will concede to the fact that we all have different tastes, and we'll agree to disagree, and it's OK. We'd all be a lot better off if we drank more wine.
I couldn't agree with you more. What is your favorite wine?
Jon: I love Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley and big fruity California Cabs and Australian Shiraz. I don't like Pinot Noir and, yes, I did see the movie Sideways. Yet, if you pair Pinots with the right food...My business partner and I had a Pinot in a restaurant in Napa recently, and it was paired with grilled duck and artichokes - it was great. But just sipping Pinot alone, it's too light-bodied for me. Same with the European wines. I'm not a big lover of Italian wines, but paired with food...
Italian wines are my favorite.
Jon: And that's OK. See what I mean.
About RingCentral...how do you use it?
Jon: We've been using RingCentral for about 2 years now, and we feel that RingCentral is part of our team! We like that we can transfer calls to our phones and have additional extensions and internet fax, and that we can pick up voicemail through our email and manage our calls online. I'm traveling and on the road about 10 days a month, and RingCentral helps me manage my time. I can prioritize my voicemail and faxes via my email inbox. The virtual operator and the 800 number allow us to provide the same level of customer service as a larger company without the overhead of an outrageously expensive phone system. And it's a great price.
Where can we find your WinesandRecipes.com kiosks?
Jon: Currently there are only two deployments of the branded kiosks, one is in Faustos Food Palace in the Key West. In the next six months, you'll see a hybrid of ours and what was a competitor at one point. By the end of the year, you'll see our branded product out in different locations across the country and hybrids in national chain stores.
Recently we received a call from a large brewery and an industry group who asked us if this technology can be adapted for beer.
Jon: Could be. But we'd have to hire some experts. I don't know a lot about beer.
For more information about WinesandRecipes.com, check out their Web site: www.winesandrecipes.com. Or reach them by phone: 888-450-4529.