August 18, 2010

The Grape Escape: Geek my wine

When I drink a wine from a place I’ve visited, vivid memories of place, sight, sound and scent play harmony to my sensory perception of what’s in the glass. OK, the computer can’t measure up to a vacation in Europe, but still, the growing availability of online mapping can make the Internet the next best thing to being there. Here’s a tip for wine and computer geeks: You can use Google Maps to view the source of whatever you’re drinking with dinner tonight.

Here’s how I did it with a robust Tuscan red, a 2007 Capezzana from the Barco Reale Carmignano district northwest of Florence. (It’s available at The Wine Rack, 2632 Frankfort Ave., 721-9148, www.wineshoplouisville.com.)

First, I opened maps.google.com and typed “Barco Reale Carmignano” in the “search maps” space. Presto — up came an airliner’s view of the village of Carmignano. But I wanted to see the vineyards. If the wine label doesn’t list an exact address for the winery (many of them do), you can generally count on Google to find it for you. Sure enough, a quick search for “Capezzana Carmignano” yielded the winery website, where I found its exact address, Via Capezzana 100, 59015 Carmignano, Prato, Italy.

I clicked “Earth” at upper right on Google Maps to get a 3-D-look, plugged in this address and ... whoa! Dinner in the vineyards! Try it yourself. Type this shortened link in your web browser: http://bit.ly/geekmywine.

Once Google zooms in on the winery scene, you can mouse the controls on the left to drive your winemobile in for a closer look, view the scene from all sides, and drag the image with your mouse to take a spin down an Italian wine-country lane. (As a bonus, look on the left: Google gives you links to the winery’s website and to the regional tourism agency. No extra charge.)