There’s a fresh way to shop for wine this summer, courtesy of friends and natural wine enthusiasts Andy Comer and Gaurav Tiwari.
The Seattle transplants met at their children’s school and soon bonded over being ex-New Yorkers and their shared interest in natural wine.
“We would get together periodically and talk about work stuff and share wine and really talk about some of the issues that we thought needed solving in the world of wine, and specifically natural wine,” Comer says.
Those conversations developed, and during the pandemic, the duo began plotting a business idea.
Enter, The Waves, a new online wine subscription platform that stands apart from traditional wine clubs.
The company works with world-renowned wine experts Rajat Parr (three-time James Beard Award-winning winemaker, sommelier and author) and Billy Smith (formerly the sommelier at Michelin-starred The Four Horsemen in Brooklyn) to source their wines, and focuses entirely on natural wines.
The site aims to provide a sense of discovery, and is arranged more by vibe than purveyor.
“You cannot search by producer, you can’t search by grape. This is a system where we’re really trying to break wine down into categories that real modern people understand. Reds that can chill, light oranges, light easy wines, the way that normal people talk about wine,” Comer says.
“Collectively we really felt like this amazing groundswell of activity and innovation happening in the space of natural chemical-free wines. And yet the vast majority of people who these wines would resonate with don’t know about them and can’t access them,” Comer says.
Broadly, natural wine remains hard to access, the pair says.
“There are certain shops, certain restaurants, and if you’re not cool enough or if you’re not an insider, they’re very hard to access,” Comer says. “So, at the highest level, what we really felt was like, ‘Well, there’s this unbelievable creativity and passion going on in natural wine and all of these amazing wines that to us are the best wines in the world. And yet it’s so hard for the people who would like them the most to get them.’”
The website aims to remedy the access issue, and currently ships to 45 states.
The shopping experience is intentionally different than other wine subscription services, Comer says. “We think of ourselves almost like a Spotify for natural wine.”
The site is sorted into categories like “unplug and chill,” “be the host with the most” and “start the party.”
Lots of online wine clubs offer a questionnaire to help match shoppers with wines, but The Waves aims more at personalizing, Tiwari says.
“The more music you listen to, we are beginning to see what you like and you start to see relevant recommendations for you versus me. I am a different person, I have a different palette, I have a different lifestyle, I will get different recommendations from you versus Andy, right?” Tiwari says. “The more you shop, the more personalization kicks in.”
“In a world where consumers have zero transparency into wine, you cannot tell anything from the bottle, and there are lots of confusing terms, The Waves is the brand where you can come and know, ‘OK, every bottle here meets these standards. I know what I’m getting,’” Comer says. “And because I’ve got Raj and Billy who are these titans of wine expertise selecting the wines, I also know that every single wine is going to be amazing. And I’m getting a comprehensive, authoritative edit of the natural wine world.”
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