We are stoked to share this article by Rolling Pandas, the travel agency with an amazingly interesting blog that offers an all-round perspective on traveling, and would like to thank them for their interview with our very own co-founder, Matteo Parisi.
Tell me something about yourself and how your blog began
My academic background is mainly classical, and I completed my education with a specialized degree in “Public Administrations and International Institutions” in 2012, a pathway that took me first to the world of strategic consultancy for IBM, and then had me launch two start-ups, which I then left before creating VINHOOD.
Vinhood was a concept I hatched along with 4 of my friends, creating something that had never been done before. By studying in-depth the world of taste, supported by national and international universities and expert neurogastronomists, we were able to create a service that can be used both on our website and on those of our partners (including Esselunga, Eataly Chicago, Winelivery, Vinicum, Lavazza and many others) to have a Taste Expert who is always available and easy to consult.
The heart of VINHOOD, therefore, beats intending to simplify the choice of products available, through individual taste profiling. We started off with wine, the product that became our emblem, then moved on to include coffee, digestive liqueurs, beer, bread, and chocolate. The idea, developed in a sophisticated way, is based on the concept that each of us has a different personality, preferences, and habits and that once these have been identified, using our simple taste test, they can be used to identify our ideal products.
We, therefore, help people to learn more about their own personal tastes, a mission we also pursue by organizing many fun events open to the public. (Follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss the next one!)
After this long, but essential introduction, we get to our VH Magazine. Which is nothing more than the result of the research we have performed so far. In fact, we use the blog to relate the world of taste to our readers, through reviews, tips, events and the stories of the producers we have and will meet along the way. Our communicative style is the main element that sets us apart from the pack, because we describe the products we study in a smart and friendly way, engaging an audience that is becoming more and more curious but often tends to shy away from a too-technical vocabulary. We also work in tandem with experts on wine, coffee, beer, and food, as well as with Italian and international journalists, writing articles in a bid to create a veritable taste platform, which can be consulted to learn more about specific subjects or to obtain useful tips and fun facts.
How did the idea of the “taste expert” come about?
The challenge originated from a problem that is very simple and very common: the world of wine uses a language that is unfathomable for most people. In fact, for those with no specific knowledge, wine is often a very complicated product to discuss. VINHOOD bridges this gap between people and the world of wine, transforming the chaos into simple, immediate language, using simple neuroscientific research and a technological approach.
We have set aside the regions of origin, the grapes and the denominations to emphasize the taste of what we find in the glass, creating matches with the taste fingerprint of each individual, and this was how our #Characters were born.
Our mission is therefore firstly to educate people about this complex world and then to simplify it, enriching a daily experience we still know far too little about with information and clarity. We then combine this with the other key pillar of our project, the gaming aspect.
The events and many tasting sessions staged by VINHOOD over the years have provided opportunities to continuously learn more about what we do and don’t like, about what entertains us and arouses our curiosity, so developing a one-of-a-kind experience. Having consolidated our experience in the field of wine, and with an algorithm that is continuously improving, thanks to the number of completed tests (currently we are up to over 300k), we have now moved on to include coffee and digestive liqueurs too, and at the moment we are developing the next products on our list: beer, bread, and chocolate.
Is there a particular fine food and wine itinerary in a foreign country that you dream about doing?
For a while now, I have been trying to organize a food and wine tour in Piedmont, and in particular in Monferrato. It’s a nearby location and it’s easy to reach, but at times the places that are easiest to access are those we tend to forget about or postpone. I have a colleague in that very area who shares a wine company (Cinque Quinti) with her 5 brothers and sisters, and she has let me in on hordes of little secrets that I can’t wait to explore in person. From the Grignolino, the autochthonous grape of Monferrato Casalese, to the bagna cauda, a typical recipe from these areas, not to mention the rolling hills that unfold into extraordinary landscapes, which I’ve only seen in photos to date, but which immediately grabbed my attention.
An area that shares a border with the famous Langhe, but is a completely different kettle of fish. Not to mention that it is also classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the Langhe and the Roero. But if we’re talking about countries overseas, and in the Mediterranean, one culture I would love to get closer to is definitely the Greek culture, which stands out for its extra fresh foods, long, spicy coffees, and wines with strong mineral notes and exceptional sapidity, especially those made with grapes harvested near the sea.
If this interview has awakened your wanderlust and heightened your craving for new experiences as it has ours, take our advice and pay a visit to the blog Rolling Pandas!