School days rivalry leads to pocket sommelier

Jul 12, 2012
Bottles of wine are displayed at the Vinitaly exposition in Verona in March 2012. Daniel Feder is out to trump a grade school buddy by putting a sommelier in the pocket of any wine lover with a smartphone.

Daniel Feder is out to trump a grade school buddy who hit it big with online travel service TripAdvisor.

He plans to do it by putting a sommelier in the pocket of any wine lover with a .

The lawyer turned created, a website operating in stealth mode ahead of the planned release of applications for Apple or Android-powered in October.

"It is kind of embarrassing if you are out on a date and have to rely on a sommelier," Feder said while demonstrating his budding service at a Technology Symposium in .

"This will help people look more impressive in front of their friends and dates," he promised. "You will be the big cheese when you walk in there."

WineLuxury is starting in restaurant rich San Francisco; amassing a database of wine lists from the city's restaurants along with tasting notes and recommendations from sommeliers.

The information will be correlated to critics' ratings and tools will provide based on factors including personal tastes, types of wine, and value for the money.

"We are a pocket sommelier," Feder said. "You will be able to fully deconstruct a restaurant wine list based on whatever parameters you want."

WineLuxury planned to start in San Francisco and then spread to Los Angeles and New York City next year in the belief that those areas represent a significant chunk of the US market for wine-drinking restaurant goers.

The startup's website will let people scrutinize wine lists ahead of time and even email questions to restaurant sommeliers.

"We are trying to create interactive relationships between patrons and restaurants through the wine list," Feder said.

"Our main purpose is to enable people at restaurants to get the best wine for them."

He envisioned eventually getting users to upload wine lists from restaurants to help the startup create the world's largest database of its kind.

WineLuxury hoped to make money through premium memberships or even selling wine to people using smartphones or tablets.

Wine in hand, Feder laughingly explained that the idea for a startup meshing technology and was fueled by a drive to one-up a classmate from decades-gone grade school days in California.

"My friend from high school founded TripAdvisor, which went public and he made some obscene amount of money," Feder said.

"The whole motivation behind this is basically a high school rivalry; it is born of total immaturity," he continued. "Steve Kaufer, I have you in my sights buddy."

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