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Stumping ChaCha

What happens when you send 10 wine-related test questions to a mobile-based question service with human guides?

You get a mixed bag of answers.

ChaCha, based in Indianapolis, IN is a human-powered, mobile text based search engine.  Text any question to 242242 and moments later you’ll get an answer texted back to your mobile phone from a (presumably) human guide. 

Or, if you’re interested in seeing trending topics you can go to the site and search a topic to see what kinds of questions are being searched from other users.

ChaCha is an interesting service and one that has some utility for those times when you need to settle a (wine) bar bet.


The search engine with trending topics, in particular, is a splash of cold water in the face for anybody that forgets what it’s like to be on the light side of the wine knowledge equation.  Questions like, “Is Burgundy wine a dry wine” dominate.

I decided to test the service out in an attempt to give myself a secret weapon the next time my wine tasting group gets together and a stumper of a question comes up …

Question #1:  Who started the phrase, “spoofulated?”

ChaCha Answer:  While there is controversy about the origin of the word, most feel the term originated (with) Michael Wheeler, a NY wine personality.

Survey Says:  Kind of right.  This link clearly has Harmon Skurnik stepping in and taking credit, however. 

Question #2:  Where in the U.S. was the first commercially successful winery?

ChaCha Answer: The first commercially successful winery in the United States, founded in Cincinnati, Ohio in the mid-1830s by Nicholas Longworth


Survey Says: Many people will say that the first commercially successful winery was in Vevay, Indiana around 1807, but Wikipedia lists the same answer given by ChaCha.

Question #3: What does a “hogshead” refer to in wine?

ChaCha Answer: A hogshead is two liquid barrels or 14,653 cubic inches

Survey says: This is correct, I think, and more accurate than not as “hogshead” is technically a volume term

Question #4: Where is the newest U.S. wine appellation?

ChaCha Answer: With regards to wine labels, appellation refers to the place where the grapes are grown

Survey says: They bombed this question and I asked it three different times.  Calistoga was nowhere near the answer for any of the inquiries.


Question #5: Who is the best U.S. wine critic?

ChaCha Answer: Robert Parker is undoubtedly the world’s most influential wine critic, who happens to be an American.  His newsletter, The Wine Advocate, has had an influence on the wine buying habits of serious American consumers

Survey says:  Decanter Magazine may argue this point, but who can argue its inherent truth?  When you search Google for, “who is the best U.S.  wine critic?” comes up as the first listing.

Question #6: What does Genesis 9:20 say?

ChaCha Answer: “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard”

Survey says:  Pretty much spot on, depending on which version of the Bible you read.

Question: #7: How many acres of Burger wine grapes are planted in California?

ChaCha Answer: 500 acres of Burger wine grapes are planted (in) California vineyards

Survey says:  Very wrong according to USDA totals, accurate from 2008 – correct answer, as I found it, is 1247 acres.

Question #8: In what city does wine expert Doug Frost live?

ChaCha Answer: Doug Frost is a Kansas City author who writes and lectures about wine, beer and spirits.

Survey says: Correct. 

Question #9: What is the Italian translation for, “Celebrate the Good Grape?”

ChaCha Answer: “Celebrate the Good Grape” translates to “Celebrare l’uva buona” in Italian.

Survey Says:  Close, but incorrect according to my translations.  Their translation reads, “Celebrate good grapes.”  If translated correctly it should be, “Celebri la buona uva” for “Celebrate the Good Grape.”

Overall, if you find yourself in a bar (or with your tasting group) kibitzing about the origin of the word “bung” or the purpose of “punts” in wine bottles, you could do worse than using ChaCha, but I wouldn’t make a bold, “bet the Petrus” bottle on the accuracy of the answer.  Still, it’s better than carrying around a nine pound copy of, “The Oxford Companion to Wine.”


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (21) |


On 01/11, 1WineDude wrote:

Or, you could subscribe to Jancis’ website and get on-line access to the Oxford Companion.

Everbody likes to ChaCha-Cha!

On 01/11, Benito wrote:

Celebri is right if you’re saying “(You) celebrate the good grape”, or would be celebro/celebriamo for I/we celebrate… 

Plural good grapes would be le buone uve, and if you wanted to celebrate the aesthetic “goodness” of said grape, you could use bella uva. 

Regardless, ChaCha’s translation is mainly wrong for not conjugating the damn verb at all and just using the infinitive.  It sounds like Borat: “To celebrate the grape good!”

Of course, I once screwed up in a conversation and praised the winemaker’s lovely eggs (uovi).  smile

On 01/29, Susie Hindle Kher wrote:

I did my own experiment and posted question #3 about the “hogshead” on LetsPour, our social site for wine lovers. I was curious…given it was 10:20am on a Saturday…if I’d get a response. It took just under an hour (55 min) and I had a response from one of our users:

“It is a lager barrel usually 500 litre than the standard 225 litre…..... We use them at the winery.”

What do you think? Can a social site (with an iPhone app) provide useful answers on the fly as well?

On 06/21, Ryan wrote:

Chacha has definitely answered some trivia and/or betting questions for me. It seems that every Thursday when our firm goes to our local wine bar someone has to text Chacha for an answer of some sort, usually entailing some kind of bet. It can be a great service for times like these.

On 02/06, Gemma Tubbrit wrote:

This site definitely has its appeal with the intriguing angle it provides on the whole search paradigm. I would love to try it out when having breakfast with my friends over a pot of nice tea in our silver tea sets someday, possible posting questions about how different types of tea were discovered.

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