Have you used them? I have used a bunch of sites to try and hunt down information but this article in the San Francisco Chronicle was the first I had heard of a subject matter specific search engine for wine
“Wine types have long bemoaned the fact that search engines don’t share our view of the world. If we type in “Barbera,” we don’t want to know about “Hanna.” So there’s plenty to like about Able Grape (www.ablegrape.com). Rather than the usual scattershot approach, it scours wine-specific Web sites and lets users divide their results by such categories as “official body” and “press,” providing a shorter path to the most useful info. Difficult-to-parse sites like that of INAO, France’s regulatory agency for appellations, are readily accessible.”
Able Grape looks like it is attempting to be the Google of wine search with its nice clean interface. Another that I’ve come across in the past but never vistied the home page until now is Scrugy. There they take the Yahoo portal perspective with lots of content up front with search bundled in.
Now that I found them, what’s next? Put them to the test with some of the wines I have yet to find information for. And just for fun let’s add Google in to see if these wine specific search engines find something different. First up was the 2005 Melipal Malbec. Able Grape was the only to find the winery which was a huge win. They had appeared to return the Wine Spectator Pick of the Day as well but the result took me to a laundry list with this wine not to be found. Google did take me to the Wine Spectator write up and also turned up some individual write ups. Scrugy on the other hand found neither of these but lead you to loads of tasting notes. I tested a number of others and the results were somewhat comparable.
At the end of the day these all have a place at the table. Google is what you expect it to be. Able Grape may turn up a gem that Google missed and Scrugy will get you straight to tasting notes if it can find them. I’ll continue this experiment as I search for wine information and see if I can’t perhaps provide some more insight. If there are any other wine specific search engines out there that you are using let me know!