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Snooth User: Chris Carpita

Who wants to try our new price search tool?

Posted by Chris Carpita, Sep 6, 2012.

Fellow Snoothers,

We've spent a lot of time making some major upgrades to site search, and I'd like to get feedback on our beta version to make sure that we're really making a solid improvement to the wine search experience.

Check out the beta now if you don't want to read the rest of this!  It's a semi-open beta, so as long as you're logged in with your Snooth account, you can see it.

In a nutshell:

This example highlights some of the major updates to search.

 

1. By default, wines are sorted by "Relevance"

Wines that more closely match your search terms will show up at the top.  This includes phrase boosting as well.   It used to be that "Ridge Vineyards" would match any wine with "Ridge" and "Vineyards" somewhere in the title/attributes, and then return results according to a proprietary recommendation score.   The change makes it easier to find exactly what you're looking for.

2. We added quality filters like "Verified" and "Has Photo"

Combined with better search relevance, this should help narrow things down, and it helps you search within a higher quality set of wines.  I should explain what verified means:  A wine that is verified has met one of the following conditions:

  • Interacted with by a Snooth Member (cellared, added a tasting note)
  • Manually verified by our team
  • Provided directly by a highly trusted source, i.e. the wineries
  • Has a significant amount of qualifying info (photo, reviews, etc)

We'll be making efforts to increase the volume of verified listings throughout the rest of this year, while maintaining the quality level.

3. There's a tab called Prices

Let's take a look:

The new prices tab

 

The idea behind price search is simple.  We wanted to make it easier to look up and compare prices on wines directly, using the original information that the merchants send us.  Prices can be filtered by quality (direct link, shopping cart), and sorted by price (of course), proximity, store rating,  quality-price-ratio, and vintage.

Long term, this all ties into this idea of building a higher quality search experience.  Most of the duplicates or poor wine records you see are the result of aggregating price data.  This change represents one large step in the direction of separating the wheat from the chaff, while facilitating access to the time-sensitive chaff before it goes stale.  Maybe not the best analogy, sorry.

Please check out the beta and let us know what you think.  We're still open to improvements that fit in the project scope, and we want to make sure that this improves your overall experience on Snooth.   Your feedback can really help the site!

Replies

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Reply by JonDerry, Sep 6, 2012.

Definitely a step forward I'd say, well done on improving this function and especially on searching for retailers.

To search for a single wine and get multiple results will continue to be a frustration I'm sure, if only there'd be a way to spit out one result (maybe the best result) from a search that's probably the ultimate goal.

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Reply by Chris Carpita, Sep 7, 2012.

Thanks Jon, glad to hear.  Agreed that the goal is to return one result - eventually we'll only return verified wine info by default.  In the meantime, I want to at least provide the best result at the top.

I just rolled an update that boosts high-quality wine records a bit.  Sometimes similar wines both match the search closely and it's better to have the one with more reviews / prices on top.

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Reply by EMark, Sep 7, 2012.

Chris, I just spent a few minutes with your beta software, and here is one observation.  If I key just the winery name in the search box, say Pine Ridge, I get a lot of suggested hits like in the current version.  However, I don't see some of the filtering options on the left that are in the current version--e.g., vintage.  Also, the "Region" filter seems to be much broader than it used to be.  I can check "USA" but I can't get down to a more specific AVA.  For example, tonight I am having the 1995 Pine Ridge Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon.  If I start with "Pine Ridge" in the search box, I don't see how I can drill down to the specific bottle that I have.  However, if I enter "1995 Pine Ridge Cabernet Sauvigon" into the search box I get a nice list of the various 1995 Pine Ridge Cabs in your database and, sure enough, the second or third one down is from the the Rutherford AVA.  This works on both the beta version and the production version.

Now, as far as I'm concerned, 95% of the time I am looking for something in the Snooth D/B, I key in the winery name, the vintage date and something else (e.g., grape variety), and I have been very successful at finding what I am seeking.  So, for me, the search function is working well.  Sometimes, though, I am dredging around and start with just the winery name and look at different regions, varietals, vintages, etc. 

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Reply by Chris Carpita, Sep 7, 2012.

Hey Mark, thanks for taking a look!  The vintages filter did appear when separating wines by vintage, but it was a bit confusing why that should happen, so they're back now.

If you select a region, it should allow you to drill down to subregions - they appear below the selected region in the filter options.  Will think about whether we need to bring back the "Appellation" filter, as this is much quicker of course.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 7, 2012.

Chris,  GREAT to hear of the new improvements!  Keep up the good work.  I like the beta site. I like the tab format, AND I love the "verified" tab.  I have been wanting one of those!

One question: without giving away the farm, can you generally explain how the food pairing algorithm works?  I ask, because I believe it must be key words.  I entered and rated a Rose of Cab Franc, and some epicurious food pairings came up as prolly being for Cab Franc, not a Rose.  Just curious, as some of the pairings in the past looked odd in other circumstances as well.

BTW... I used to look to "another" site with initials CT for wine reviews.  I am completely turned off to that site now.  I can't tell you how many times a wine that actually turns out to be very good, AND is rated well by others in the industry, gets only 2 star rating.  I do NOT trust that site anymore... I don't like the direction it has gone for the most part.   Just saying this cause Snooth is now one of my go-to sites for researching wine, whereas it used to be more social for me. 

I also love all the new articles and different directions this site has gone.  I am getting a lot of information which is what I want.  Also,  I want Eric and/or GdP to do a wine/cheese pairing section, both general recommendations and specific wines/cheeses.. and add to it.  I would like to see it be huge.  Eric Guido has a lot of good input on that, as I'm sure GdP does. You can also hire a cheesemonger.  I know a very, very good cheese lady here in the SF bay area (where there is no shortage of artisanal cheeses) who may be interested in contributing.  If that ever looks like it will happen, let me know and I will PM you her info.

BTW- I love the tab, when you go to your profile, and can see local events in your area!  VERY, VERY cool feature!  For some reason, I did not know about this, and it is useful info.   But there is a bug on the Android, at least at the current (not beta) site.  I logged in the other day, and it showed me wine events somewhere in the midwest! LOL!  not sure why... I was in the SF bay area, and properly logged in.

Funny side-note from the past:  a few years ago, I'd search a wine I had from, say, Napa, and it would say (for example)  "sometown, Missouri".  I think people were filling in where they lived or were from, not where the wine was made!! LOL!!

Bravo to you and Snooth!

 

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Reply by EMark, Sep 9, 2012.

Y'know, sometimes I think I take stupid pills.  Sure enough you click on "USA," then you can click on "California," then you can click on "Napa," and the next list includes "Rutherford."

I'll blame it on another "senior moment."

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Reply by Chris Carpita, Sep 9, 2012.

I wouldn't beat yourself up EMark - this is a pretty big change to how the region selection works, and it's not clearly documented.  I really appreciate you taking a look and providing your initial impression; there are a lot of new people who are going to be looking at this, and I want to make sure we give you as much power and utility as possible without making things confusing.

@Napagirl - glad you like the improvements!  Really great to hear your thoughts on how we're progressing.  Our goal is to be a one-stop resource for wine information - both in general terms and for specific reference needs. 

Wine and cheese pairing as a site section is definitely on our radar; we're planning all kinds of improvements to the Wine & Food section that will include guides to pairing wines with types of foods, cheese included.

Re: rose of cab franc - sounds like a specific case issue with our algorithm, and we'll have to take a look.   It's probably not taking the rose factor into account.  Without giving too much away, the general idea is we have thousands wine and food flavor profiles, and the categorization happens automatically - this tends to work splendidly over 95% of the time, but sometimes miscategorizations do happen and we have to fix it, and as we do the algorithm improves.  The proper pairing of the categories is hand-selected by GDP and we've incorporated the feedback of dozens of food editors from partner recipe sites, so a lot of real intelligence has gone into this thing and we're quite proud of it!  Wine & Food pairing will continue to be a big priority for us.

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Reply by napagirl68, Sep 9, 2012.

Chris,

Thanks for the info on the pairings... it is very good to hear that GdP is hand-selecting the pairing categories, and you are taking feedback from food editors, etc.  This is VERY nice to hear.   IMO, a good food/wine paring tool is not something I do not see a lot online.... especially one that goes both ways.   You should be proud of it! 

Is the yahoo app A-Z wine pairings no longer functional?  I haven't looked at it in ages, and it seems when you click tab for wines/recipes it goes to a default yahoo app page.  Like I said, I haven't used it in awhile... I just go to snooth.

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Reply by Wine Club Insider, Sep 13, 2012.

Works well for me!

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Reply by lingprof, Sep 16, 2012.

Thanks, it looks great!  I have one question.  Is there a way to separate the prices from "chain stores" from the prices from smaller operations?  I ask because I searched for a very common wine, by proximity, and most of the first 20 links or so were "bev mo".  I know how much it costs at bevmo and am wondering if there's a way to either condense all those into one or flag them as "big chain" and get them out?  Thanks for constantly working to improve our experience!

Nota Bene:  NAPAGIRL!  I had never heard the word "cheesemonger" before, and I totally want to hire one for my next party.  Know anyone in So Cal by chance?  ;-)

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Reply by EMark, Sep 16, 2012.

LP, pardon my intrusion to your question to NG, but why don't your start with these guys--Claremont Cheese Cave

Another idea in the same neighborhood would be Wolfe's Market on Foothill. They might be able to point you in a direction.

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Reply by lingprof, Sep 16, 2012.

EM:  oh my god, I LOVE cheese cave!  of course!  that was my version of a senior moment.  I'm precocious that way, lol.  thanks for reminding me. 

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Reply by Chris Carpita, Sep 16, 2012.

LingProf - thanks for the comment re: BevMo, it's definitely something to think about.  My thought was that proximity sort would take care of the issue in general, but maybe there's something else that can be done here - something like the "Big Chain" flag, or a "hide this store" link might be the solution. 

If anyone else sees any similar glaring issues, please comment!  I appreciate the help.

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Reply by burgundywinecompany, Sep 20, 2012.

Definitely a great new advancement of the beta.  Wow. I also love the cheese cave.

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Reply by alpreston, Dec 3, 2013.

One thing that could definitly use improvement is the search by proximity - I often see retailers at the top of the list that are 2000+ miles away from me, and rarely less than about 500 miles, hardly in my proximity, and I live in a city of 1.1 million people with hundreds of liquor stores.


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