Welcome to Able Grape!

Here are the answers to some frequently-asked questions. We recommend reading these the first time you use Able Grape, because we're a little different from the usual search engine, with a streamlined UI and special features like filters to help you find things faster. You may want to try the example queries along the way, which you can do simply by clicking on them. We hope that a few minutes reading these tips will repay your investment many times over, but if you're in a hurry, jump to the bottom, where there are a ton of examples to try.

Wherever you are on the Able Grape site, you can return to the home page by clicking on the Able Grape logo at the top left of the screen.

What is Able Grape?

Able Grape is a wine search engine. We aim to be the world's most complete, authoritative, and up-to-date online source for any wine, enology, or viticultural information. Please keep in mind that Able Grape is currently a beta test version, meaning that there are still some rough edges and incomplete features, and though our database is over 21 million pages strong, it's still growing. As you use the beta, we welcome your ideas and suggestions (really! please don't be shy).

Do I use Able Grape the same way I would use Yahoo! or Google?

Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that you need only type queries in the search box and hit return. But since Able Grape is wine-specific, you don't need to add wine-specific terms. While you need to type Spanish Wine on Google to get good results, on Able Grape, you will get better results than Google by simply typing Spain. Similarly, instead of needing to type Argyle Winery or Argyle Vineyards to get just wine-related results, try simply Argyle. And instead of climate change and wine, try simply climate change. (We have included some great general resources about climate change, but you'll find that most of the results are wine-specific. Moreover, Able Grape knows that global warming and even cambiamento climatico mean the same thing).

By allowing you to leave off unnecessary terms, Able Grape gives you more complete results.

What do all these flags mean?

The flags tell you what languages a given site can provide. The first flag should tell you the language of that specific result. So you should be able to scan the page quickly and find results in the language you desire. We don't provide facilities for filtering out non-English results, because we find that often the most authoritative results are non-English. We don't want to simply hide these -- we want to give you the choice of the best information available in any language. (Soon, we'll provide translation facilities to make this a little easier).

How do I see the next page of results?

Ah, we told you Able Grape was a little different. We've tried to make common actions much easier and faster than in other search engines. The entire left side of your screen forms a navigation panel. Move your mouse over its lower half — the box that says NEXT — and you'll see that the entire box is active. If you click anywhere outside the Region Filters (see below), you'll go to the next page of results. Similarly, the top half of the navigation panel will return you to the previous page. Our oversized next and previous buttons are adjacent so that you can perch your pointer right in between them and jump backward and forward in your results with minimal mouse motion.

What are those funny boxes with the ▼ in them?

That's the "drill down" box. By default, we show only 2 results from each site; each site that has additional results has a "drill down" box next to it. If you click this box once, it will open up the site at hand, showing you all the available results from just that site. Click again and you'll return to the original results list -- lightning fast, no need to move the mouse. It's a great way to get a "quick peek" inside a site to see what else is there.

What are all those controls at the left side of the window?

These are filters, one of Able Grape's most powerful features. When you give Able Grape a query, it will do its best to come up with the most relevant results possible, often giving you just what you need. But there are times when you want to sift through a set of results looking for particular kinds of things. For this, AG provides a number of filters you can apply. Filters allow you to instantly narrow the results to a particular topic, kind of site, or geographical region. To activate a filter, simply click on it. To turn it off and return to the original results, simply click on it again, or hit Return, which will turn off all filters and return you to your first page of results.

To get the best results with filters, it helps to understand what we mean by topics and regions.

Topics really represent two different ideas: First, what kind of information source is a given site? Is it an official body (like a Syndicat, Consorzio, Consejo Regulador, agriculture ministry...)? Is it a producer? A consumer wine magazine? An importer? A blog? A university enology department? and so on. Second, what kind of information does the site have? Do they have reliable information about grape varieties? maps? appellation regulations? tasting notes? and so on. You can sift through results very quickly by choosing specific source-types and topics. Note that results can, and generally will, have multiple topics. Note also that topics can have subtopics: as you select a topic, it will reveal available subtopics to further refine your results.

The set of available topics may change with your query. Try the queries Dolcetto and Utiel-Requena. The topic list changes subtly to give you appropriate additional options. Try clicking on different filters to see how the results change.

Regions would seem to be self-explanatory: what is the wine region associated with this source? There are a couple of "gotchas," however. First, note that regions classify the related wine region, not necessarily the location of the information source. So a US importer of Italian wine will have the region Italy, since that is the relevant wine region. And a German magazine about Spanish wine will be categorized as Spanish. (We do also know the physical location of these sources; that will be exposed shortly.) Second, note that many sites are considered to cover broad regions — most notably "World" — even though specific parts of those sites may cover much smaller regions. For example, a magazine about the wines of the world may have a great section on Austria, but it may not come up for a region filter for Austria, because the site is global in scope. Despite these restrictions, we find region filtering very useful for answering certain kinds of questions, like "find me producers of Nebbiolo in Virginia" (oh yes, there are some! Start with the query Nebbiolo, filter by topic "Producer" and then dive down into Virginia, like this), or " find me articles from South Africa about climate change." It's a feature to be used with care, but we've found some surprising nuggets this way.

Unlike the topic list, which is always in a consistent order, the ordering of the region filters varies with each query: the region with the most results will be listed first. So for the query Poulsard, France/Jura will show up first, while for the query Zinfandel, North America/United States/California will show up first. We sometimes find this useful to help us find in which geographic areas a topic or query is "hot."

More improvements to both region and topic filtering are in the works. As always, we'd love to hear your feedback.

Sometimes Able Grape shows related concepts under my query. What does this mean?

Able Grape tries to give you hints when there are concepts related to, but distinct from, your query. This can take several forms:

Able Grape's database of concepts and their relationships is constantly growing and improving. If you see something that doesn't look right, please let us know.

Can I add Able Grape as a search plug-in to my browser?

Yes, on both Firefox and Internet Explorer 7. Just go to the Able Grape home page. Your browser will "auto-discover" our search plug-in, and the search plug-in pull down menu, at the top right of your browser, should faintly highlight. Use this pull-down menu, and select Add "Able Grape" (Firefox), or Add Search Providers (IE 7). And voilà! You can use Able Grape right from your browser. Note that Safari does not yet support this plugin method; we hope to come up with a Safari solution soon.

Yahoo! and Google return many more results. Does that mean they're better?

Not necessarily. We've tried to include only carefully selected websites, with little to no retail content. That gives us fewer results, but it usually means means you can find trustworthy information without having to sift through a lot of commercial pages. Note also that when Able Grape recognizes a concept in your query, it will be very specific about which documents it shows, thus returning far fewer but usually much more relevant documents. For example, look for La Tour de By on Able Grape. You'll notice it returns only documents for Château La Tour de By. Now try the same query on Google or Yahoo!. You'll see that they return all the documents containing the query terms La, Tour, de, and By — that's a lot of documents! But you get more useful documents on Able Grape.

Occasionally, however, our selectivity means we miss something useful; when that happens, please shoot us an email.

Explicitly opening results in another window/tab is not working on Firefox. Can I fix that?

A handful of users have reported that control-clicking to explicitly open another tab doesn't work on Able Grape; this is a side-effect of how we enable some of our more advanced features in a cross-browser fashion, and we sincerely apologize. There are a couple of ways around this. One is to use the context menu (right-mouse on a PC, control-click on a Mac) over the link. Another way is to set an Able Grape user preference to open results in a separate window (and if desired, you can set a Firefox preference to use a new tab instead). The nice thing about this option is that it becomes automatic for all results — no fancy clicking required — and you can even set it to always re-use the same second window, so you don't proliferate windows/tabs that get in the way.

Can you show me more examples of what I can do?

Sure. Here are a few examples. Note how we've used topic and region filters to get some of these results. If you want to compare them with Yahoo! or Google, use the links next to the search box. We encourage you to explore around for yourself!
Fun Little Experiments

How can I contribute to Able Grape?

Able Grape has taken an immense amount of effort to build and maintain, and strangely enough, that costs money! Shortly, we plan to add advertising to Able Grape; if you'd like to participate, and reach our diverse, international group of wine professionals and passionate consumers, please . In the mean time, we are working on a "shareware-like" model; if you find Able Grape useful, please contribute to our effort.

How can I send in ideas and feedback?

Ideas for useful features or UI improvements? Results that aren't quite as good as you'd like? Found a better result in another search engine? We want to make Able Grape the best it can be, and we'd love your feedback. Of course, we'd also love to hear examples of how Able Grape has helped you find what you were looking for — that's what keeps us going. Drop us an email at

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