I’m a fan of Wikipedia. I like the idea of a constantly updating encyclopedia at my fingertips, despite the rap that it gets from some (traditionalists?) that it’s not accurate. While my go to source for general wine info is still the Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson, as well as a few other atlas’, Wikipedia has begun to take over some of my mindspace.
It has its downfalls for sure. For example, it can’t come close to Appellation America as a reference for North American wine growing regions or for information on grape varieties. Where Appellation America’s cataloging of North American wine growing regions is broad and deep, Wikipedia’s wine section is merely broad while the Oxford Companion is deep on only certain areas.
So, I was very intrigued when I saw Encyclowine.
Encyclowine has only launched in the past week. It is, essentially, Wikipedia for wine…a user-created and edited encyclopedia for wine. It is not filled out as yet. Also, I’ve noticed over the past couple of days that the site has been both up and down at times. So what we are talking about here is potential. However, the potential IS exciting.
As with the Wikipedia, Encyclowine is meant to offer deep content on everything as long as there is someone willing to write it and others willing to edit it later. Like Wikipedia, the hope is that a collaborative effort will help create an Online index of everything-wine.
There is a great deal already on Encyclowine for the person researching varieties, regions, wines, production, etc. The question that Encyclowine has to answer is why create such an open-source encyclopedia of wine outside Wikipedia or try to compete with Appellation America’s headlong dive into deep/broad info presentation? One answer, which seems to be a regular refrain among optimistic web developers, is "because we can"
If you visit Encyclowine give it a chance. Surf around. Explore the potential. Because it is there. If you are very knowledgeable on a particular wine subject, register and write an entry. This is how this source will grow. It could, if they play their cards right and spend their marketing dollars and time correctly turn into the kind of source that replaces the print world’s Companions.