Month: March 2016

Tasting Algos, Spring I.

You shall know a word by the company it keeps (Firth, J. R.) It’s reasonable to believe that wine words which occur in similar contexts have related meanings for the tasters who wrote them down. Join us on our machine assisted journey to explore the unplumbed depths of wine writing with natural language processing (NLP) techniques. As machine learning meets human taste, let’s strive to make the symbiosis fruitful: with NLP algorithms and computing power at our fingertips, here’s an opportunity to discover more about how we record sensory impressions with words. We’ve trained neural network models on a large corpus of wine notes to recognize words by the company they keep. The results are fascinating. It’s spring-time, so let’s start by investigating a couple of fresh, uplifting, seasonal descriptors that come to mind naturally. Each word comes with its top 10 contextual associates picked out by our machine assistant.  The score (cosine similarity) indicates how close the association is. Blossoms ‘peaches’, 0.64 ‘wax’, 0.64 ‘poached’, 0.62, ‘bursts’, 0.61 ‘hazelnuts’, 0.61 ‘apples’, 0.61 ‘buttered’, 0.60 ‘apricots’, 0.60 ‘candle’, …

Wine Words to Data

It’s not always easy to find the wine market data you need. And even when you know where the data you need is, it can be expensive to get it. (If you’re ever stuck getting the data you require, let us know and we’ll help!) The secondary market for wine is fascinating! But there’s more to a wine than its price. Let’s take a step closer to the source. How about the fine line between sublime tasting note and, how can we put it delicately…  bullshit? That’s an area worth investigating. Luckily there is more free wine tasting data than you could usefully process. To tackle the wine word challenge, we’ve strengthened the WineQuant team with a NLP specialist. (All will be revealed in due course.) In the mean time, here are some introductory thoughts. Wise Words?* Conveying sensory impressions in words is difficult. Émile Peynaud (1912-2004), a Bordelais legend among oenologists and wine-writers remarked that “we tasters feel to some extent betrayed by language.” How can writers convey information about colour, sound and taste …

Data & Wine

We are delighted to welcome WineQuant associate Iqbal Hossain to the blog. Iqbal has eight years of experience in wine-data and IT, so read carefully! What is the difference between a Data and an IT professional in the Wine Trade? Eight years ago the answer to this question would have been none. For a long time they were expected to carry out the same roles and responsibilities in this industry. If someone was hired in a data role, they were by default assumed to be good with setting up printers, installing software and dealing with the blue screen of death, along with all of the other responsibilities that IT support has in an organisation. However, things have started to change. These days investment in wine requires a lot more data-driven intelligence and decision making. This is how some of the traders globally have started to think, but there are a lot more who still prefer the traditional way of trading and are as yet uninfluenced by technology. For some, resisting change is a natural instinct. For the majority of the wine trade …

Wine investing and trading V: Carruades de Lafite 2010

In the final blogpost of this series, I will look to apply the tools developed over this series on one example: Carruades de Lafite 2010. This is a wine that is regularly traded on platforms due to its regular supply, healthy market sentiment and consistent expected margins. Here, we use trading data available from the Liv-Ex trading platform. The above graph shows the WQ Inventory Value for Carruades de Lafite between June 2015 and February 2016. It is clear that the supply has been fairly regular. There was a build-up in inventory between June 2015 and August 2015 due to low trading activity which we shall see later. The WQ Spread is a good indicator for both market sentiment and bid:offer ratios. A steady (and non-turbulent) trend in the spread as shown above shows that market sentiment for Carruades de Lafite has been very healthy over the last eight months. There is a small bump in December 2016 which is attributed to a possible trading hiccup as the market adjusts itself to slower trading activity in …

Wine with Wiener

In the spirit of “everything is a remix“,  Blind Willie McTell (“I jump ’em from other writers, but I arrange them my own way”), the florilegium and, of course, wine, which we believe is the best example of the uniquely human capacity to mix and arrange nature to good taste: here are some thoughts on wine value, wine critics and the “façon” of wine. The following essay on wine’s value is adapted from Norbert Wiener’s The Human Use of Human Beings, the work of a visionary mathematical genius, which is once again strikingly relevant as notions of “Artificial Intelligence“, “Cognitive Computing“, etc., enter the imaginations of Davos-goers,  our newspapers and the stories we tell ourselves and each other: it’s the programme of Cybernetics reloaded, old wine in new bottles. Let’s squeeze it for what it’s worth. Information about a wine’s quality is fickle, for the amount of information communicated is related to the non-additive quantity known as entropy (we could say that entropy increases as the wine ages, styles change and fakes dilute the market) and differs from it by its …