The Science Behind Wine Selection: Personalized Tasting Innovation With Dr. Henry Barham of VinoTastr

by Drew Hendricks
Last updated Aug 17, 2023

Legends Behind the Craft Podcast

The Science Behind Wine Selection: Personalized Tasting Innovation With Dr. Henry Barham of VinoTastr

Last Updated on August 17, 2023 by nicole

The Science Behind Wine Selection: Personalized Tasting Innovation With Dr. Henry Barham of VinoTastr 11

Dr. Henry Barham is a leading ENT Physician specializing in sinus surgery and the Chief Medical & Scientific Officer at Phenomune. As the Chief Science Officer and co-founder of TASTR, Dr. Barham is no stranger to scientific innovation. However, this same expertise also founded VinoTastr, where he discovered the science behind choosing wine that will best suit your palate. Blending scientific acumen with a passion for wine, Dr. Barham navigates the intriguing intersection of sensory exploration and oenology, reshaping how we appreciate wine.

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Dr. Barham explains the technology behind VinoTastr and the inspiration that led him to create this innovative product
  • Discover what led Dr. Barham to explore the wine side of the technology and the insights gained from studying people’s taste profiles
  • Find out the personalized wine tasting tests conducted by VinoTastr
  • The vision for VinoTastr’s future and the possibility of partnerships with wineries
  • Explore how the technology could potentially be adapted for spirits
  • Insights into VinoTastr’s current development stage and progress
  • Dr. Barham’s personal motivations for driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of wine tasting
  • Dr. Barham’s insights into his entrepreneurial journey and reflections on things he might have done differently
  • Effective strategies that have contributed to VinoTastr’s successful entry into the industry

In this episode with Henry Barham

We dive into the fascinating world of personalized wine recommendations with Dr. Henry Barham of VinoTastr. Discover the technology that powers this innovative product and explore the motivations that led Dr. Barham to create a groundbreaking solution for matching wines to individual tastes. 

In today’s episode of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast, Drew Thomas Hendricks and Bianca Harmon are joined by Dr. Henry Barham, Founder of VinoTastr. Here, we’ll explore the journey from wine to spirits and uncover the remarkable insights gathered from blind tastings. Dr. Barham shares the industry feedback that shaped VinoTastr’s development and how they’re revolutionizing wine and spirit tasting experiences, making them tailored, approachable, and exciting. Tune in to explore the science behind VinoTastr’s success, the art of forging industry partnerships, and the driving force that keeps innovation alive. 

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Barrels Ahead.

Barrels Ahead is a wine and craft marketing agency that propels organic growth by using a powerful combination of content development, Search Engine Optimization, and paid search.

At Barrels Ahead, we know that your business is unique. That’s why we work with you to create a one-of-a-kind marketing strategy that highlights your authenticity, tells your story, and makes your business stand out from your competitors.

Our team at Barrels Ahead helps you leverage your knowledge so you can enjoy the results and revenue your business deserves.

So, what are you waiting for? Unlock your results today!

To learn more, visit or email us at to schedule a strategy call.


[00:00:00] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Drew Thomas Hendricks here. I’m the host of the Legends Behind the Craft podcast. On the show, I talk with leaders in the wine and craft beverage industry. Before we get started, brief sponsor message. Today’s episode sponsored by Barrels Ahead. You know, at Barrels Ahead, we help the wine and craft industry scale their business through authentic content.

Go to today to learn more. Bianca Harmon’s joining us today. She’s our channel director for the podcast. How’s it going, Bianca?

[00:00:26] Bianca Harmon: Going great. Super stoked for this conversation today.

[00:00:29] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes. Today we’re talking with Dr. Henry Barham. Now I met Henry at the North Coast WIN Expo back in December where he, he’s the founder of VinoTastr and I’m at the time, I just had to learn more about it, so I’m super stoked to have him on the show today.

Welcome to the show, Henry.

[00:00:46] Henry Barham: Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I’m excited about today so thank you all.

[00:00:50] Drew Thomas Hendricks: So, Henry, you’re an ENT Ear, Nose, and Throat Physician by I guess trade is by profession.

[00:00:57] Henry Barham: Yeah.

[00:00:57] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And an innovator by night. Talk to me about, let’s just jump into the, the technology behind VinoTastr and your, and your motivation for creating this product.

[00:01:04] Henry Barham: Yeah, so basically, I mean, a little bit of a background and I hope it makes sense, but basically yes. I do ENT or Ear, Nose and Throat, and then I actually, I did a fellowship in rhinology and so nobody really knows what that is, but it’s a fellowship outta ENT. And so do just nose sinus all these things.

So like sinus disease, taste, and smell issues, nasal airway, pituitary tumors, things like that. So, you know, while I have my practice also have been really interested and continue to have done research beyond medical school and then residency and fellowship. And so, one of the things that we study in our lab is taste and smell it, obviously sort of along with the nose quite nicely.

And there’s this basically group of receptors or family receptors that, that influences taste that we have studied, you know, for the last decade or so. More on the lines of like immunity and things like that as it relates to like sinusitis or bacterial infections or inflammatory disorders. And then looking at ’em like obviously everyone got interested in taste and smell as it relates to covid or this virus.

[00:02:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yes.

[00:02:14] Henry Barham: Now sort of changed our world for the last couple of years, but, you know, especially with the, the loss of taste and smell. But basically, you know, we have a company that, that deals in the, the science of taste and smell specifically and then, you know, but more related to like immunity as we had talked about.

 But sort of one of the offshoot projects has turned into,

[00:02:36] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And that’s Phenomune?

[00:02:38] Henry Barham: Yes. And so you got it. So that’s more of like the medical company that I help with from a research standpoint, from like immunity and they have immunity products of, you know, sprays and tests and things like that. But this offshoot deal has been sort of the, the TASTR project.

And so yeah, it’s T A S T R which the reason that’s important is the family of receptors that we’ve studied is like T A S T1R, T A S T2R, and so they’re receptors. Yeah. Bitter receptors. And so, so yeah, we’ve basically started TASTR. And I will say this project has been just so fascinating because, you know, well, I mean personally from a scientific standpoint, the immunity stuff with these receptors is interesting.

The wine project has been fascinating. And it, and it sort of spun, you know, into other projects. And so wine’s kind of the first that we started studying, but it, you know, we are now doing it to other projects, like, you know, spirits, beer, coffee, terpenes, and marijuana and products like that. But sort of wine was the, the first intro to it and has, has honestly been fascinating and just a lot of fun.

If you can imagine for somebody who, who does science research that the opportunity to work on a wine project has sort of opened a whole world that, you know, I think everybody finds interesting myself, you know? I like wine. I think everybody, you know, likes the idea of the social aspect of wine, but the science behind it has been really fascinating.

So that’s basically a, that wasn’t very much of a short answer so I apologize, but that’s sort of the background.

[00:04:15] Bianca Harmon: What led you into the wine side of it?

[00:04:19] Henry Barham: Yeah, great question. So basically, in short, what we’re studying specifically is, so these receptors live throughout your airway, right?

And so we had studied them to immunity, but on your tongue they heavily influence taste. So like on a taste bud, you have, you know, numerous of these receptors. And you have taste buds throughout your tongue and you have sort of receptors to all the cardinal taste, or five primary taste on each of the taste buds.

And basically what we’re doing is we’re measuring the perception of specific tastes through this test. And so basically what we did was, the idea was like, you know, apart from immunity, could you, you know, could you test one’s expression of these receptors and how much does that influence taste?

Because this is something that’s been looked at for like years dating back to like, you know, here you hear these stories of like chemistry projects where people would just use like PTC and they’re like, oh, you don’t like brick, you broccoli. You know? Or like, you must be a super taster, you know?

The idea has been there for a while. And so basically what we have done is, you know, becauseI’ll be the first to tell you, I’m not a wine expert. None of us claim to be. I find the science fascinating, but what we are is a the science of taste.

And so what we’ve done is basically our test is measuring one’s expression of bitter taste receptors relative to sweet receptors, and then also your perception of umami and sour. Those are kind of the, the primary components. And then you look at the components of wine and you know, from an outsider, it’s like I like wine.

You know, you go to a wedding or you go to dinner and it’s like the social aspect of wine is great, but it’s like anything, once you get into it, you kind of really dive into it. Well, wine can be intimidating because there’s like 56 million different types of wine or, you know, it’s like, where do you start?

I think I like red, you know, I think I like white. I’m told that if I go like to dinner and eat like a steak, I should like a Cabernet. Basically what we’ve done is like, take wines, try to figure out the primary components that stimulate these receptors. And then after doing that, then you measure which specific receptor.

So it’s kind of gone more in-depth than like, so for instance, I referenced the broccoli thing. So that one historically is like T2R 38. So that’s kind of the most well-known studied one even from a genetic standpoint. But there’s actually like 25 of the, the of different bitter taste receptors in that T2R family and then sweet receptors.

You have numerous of those also. And so like, it’s a little more complicated than just T2R 38. But basically what we’ve done is figured out like what components of wine stimulate which of these receptors on your tongue, and then sort of, so you measure the interceptor and then using people like y’all or experts in the wine industry to basically try to marry the two together.

And so like while we’re, we are not a wine company, we are measuring the end user, so like the person drinking literally the people, the proteins on people’s tongue and then match wines to that because, and then sort of the aha moment, or where it’s been fascinating is like, like myself. You know, you have people who I think wanna like wine and want to be able to talk the talk, but it’s kind of intimidating, right?

[00:08:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And so like, you know, you may not have a hundred bucks to, you know, go find, I don’t even know someone yay. But like you ask for their recommendations. And so that’s where this has been really fun. Because it’s like you can do a test and let’s talk about the test for a second. From our users

[00:08:20] Henry Barham: Yeah. So it’s literally, but it’s literally showing exactly what is like tailored for them, which has been fascinating.

[00:08:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: From our standpoint, so just for our listeners, so we met you and your team at WIN Expo, but I was with my wife and Bianca. We were touring the show and you guys had these little packets that seemed almost like litmus strips that you’d put on your tongue. And depending on how you react on it, you would rate the level of how much you can identify it on like a scale.

And it was so dramatic. I remember this one, the one of these strips. I could barely taste it. Bianca put the same strip in her mouth and it was a dramatic expression on her face, so wild. And we were tasting the, we had the exact same strip in her mouth the same time. That was the that was the aha moment.

We’re like, holy moly. There you’ve, you’ve identified that exact thing. And then once we did the little, little survey or whatever after the strips, you’ve identified four or five different types of tasters.

[00:09:17] Henry Barham: We probably will, you know, with this iteration of the tests, it probably gets more specific as we go.

And we have tested a large number at this point, but obviously from a, you know, from a research standpoint. I love data and so that, that’s kind of the goal as, you know, as it goes once you get, you know, exceptionally large numbers. Then you kind of have more power in refining it even further.

But I will say like it’s, it’s pretty specific. Even, even now just on, I mean, admittedly we have tested a lot of people at this point, but the, the team has done a great job and honestly help with people in y’all industry has really helped us to figure out like how marry the wines together. As I said, that’s something that we didn’t necessarily know.

[00:10:02] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I love it. We’ve, you know, there’s been so many iterations of this sort of example over the years, but most of it’s just asking someone, do they like, like coffee or dark coffee? Do they like sugar in their coffee or whatnot? And so you’re basically basing your recommendation on what they say.

Whereas this is actually experiential. And after the litmus strip, I’m using the wrong word, after these strips that were put in my

[00:10:23] Henry Barham: No, you nailed it. Yeah.

[00:10:25] Drew Thomas Hendricks: In my mouth. I was classified a balance ambassador, which I have to say, pretty spot on with the way I consume and enjoy wine. And in contrast, I know Bianca was, can’t remember exactly which one it was, but it resonated with you, didn’t it, Bianca?

[00:10:39] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. No, it was, really, it was really good. It was pretty much all the things I liked to drink, except for yeah. I, and I don’t know what I did with my card. I was just telling Drew, I was like, I wish it emailed me my results.

[00:10:51] Henry Barham: The new version does.

[00:10:52] Bianca Harmon: Okay.

[00:10:52] Henry Barham: And yeah, it’s a constant evolution as you can imagine. And, and honestly, when we went out there, or when we first met y’all, that was like so nerve racking for us as a company. Because like we’re not in this world. We had test, you know, have done a bunch of these like events where we did blind testing and blind tasting and like tested people and then like had ’em blinded to what they were drinking and they had to rank ’em.

And that’s kind of how we got our foot in the door. But you know, for us we felt like, oh, we’re going into the belly of the beast. ‘Cause this is wine country and these people know, and it was really -. So that’s what’s been pretty fascinating to this whole process.

[00:11:30] Drew Thomas Hendricks: What was the general industry feedback from the event?

[00:11:32] Henry Barham: It was really good. You know, it’s interesting because it’s like you said it, we don’t have the all the answers yet. And certainly, you know, I think that’ll take time and, and that’s the fun process. But I think, you know, most people get it.

It just makes sense that it’s like, you know, you go with a couple or with your significant other, and it’s like, you know, you buy, you go to dinner and you buy a bottle of wine or you know, you’re both supposed to enjoy it, but inevitably it’s like, yeah, I kind like it. And then you know, the other one’s like, this is great. And that’s what’s tough is like it’s, you know, it people are different. And that’s exactly, you know, what we’re measuring is like measuring each specific person and then matching for them. And so that’s the industry, you know, from the feedback we’ve gotten has been really good.

‘Cause it, like y’all said, it has been pretty spot on. Mainly because, like I said, from help from people like y’all helping us to curate like what matches with what. But we continue to test and it, it’s been, you know, it’s been fun.

[00:12:31] Bianca Harmon: What is your goal with it then, Henry? I mean, are you trying to get in with wineries? Do you

[00:12:37] Henry Barham: Yeah, great question. And I think that answer probably changes daily. I think in December if you would’ve asked us, our plan was to go direct to public and just, you know, kind of push it out there, whether it be social media or whatever, people could just order it and do it at home.

And I think that’s still an option though admittedly we have met with several wineries, distributors, and are, are trying to sort of let them help guide us in the way that they see it because I think, you know, the needs of the industry, that’s been really interesting of like trying to follow what has happened.

So I didn’t, you know, I didn’t realize before all of this that the wine industry is evidently sort of contracting and that the younger population doesn’t necessarily drink wine on the way that you know, people historically have and, and that craft,

[00:13:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Well, we’re doing our best to change that.

[00:13:27] Henry Barham: Yeah, for sure. Certain people are certainly carrying their weight. But, but you know, a contraction as a whole. And so I think, you know, taking the advice of, of players in the industry whether it be we’re not opposed to big or small, I think, you know, everybody has been helpful. And so I think working with, you know, wineries in terms of like their, their mailing list or their, their clubs.

Where they would use it to, you know, kind of help, hey, try this new product that we have. And then tailor shipments to those people. So that’s where it’s like a home run as opposed to just saying like, hey, here’s a, you know, a new wine we want you to try. Well, obviously not everybody’s gonna like it, but what if you could measure, you know, the proteins on one’s tongue and have a better experience where, you know, what you send them, they are much more likely to, like, literally from a scientific standpoint.

So that’s one angle versus, you know, also distributors, like ways to kind of the novelty of it, as you said, like, you know, you take it in a group and it’s actually pretty fun to like take it with other people, take the test with other people because you get so many different responses where somebody’s like, I taste nothing on this strip and there’s other people who are like, this is literally the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. And so it, it’s kind of fun, the novelty of it. And so that, I think from a marketing angle of like figuring out what people like and then being able to offer people, you know, what’s specific to them as opposed to just a generic like drink wine.

I think the beauty of this is it’s 2023 and if you could individualize people like, you did a podcast recently on like the increasing personalization of wine. There’s a company that personalizes bottles.

This is kind of in that same direction, but from a different angle that, I mean, it truly is personalized for their specific taste. And then you can match the wine to that. I mean, that’s kind of a no-brainer and great for me because I love the science behind it, but, but also I, you know, it makes sense from a real world.

[00:15:30] Bianca Harmon: I see the ideal use case or one, one use case, which is pretty ideal, is there’s so many wine sub subSubscriptions.

[00:15:37] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Club subscription and they’re set apart from wineries where the person that’s in that runs the club goes and sources wines all about. And usually, the way those wines start whether, is they ask ’em a survey, what type of wines you like?

It’d be a great kickoff. Where the VinoTastr is they, they inquire they want to join this subscription. You send them the VinoTastr tasting kit and that helps them classify and segment which club they should belong to.

[00:16:02] Henry Barham: Yeah.

[00:16:03] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Then the club like, so they could be in the Balance Ambassador club. Or whatever they, yeah.

And that, that serves as like a perfect starting point that they can then refine the club afterwards.

[00:16:14] Henry Barham: Yeah. One thing we’ve looked at is even like gamification of it where it’s like exactly what you’re talking about. Whether it be on like a social media platform. Obviously, there, you know, now the new iteration, there’s an app that goes with it.

It’s like you take the test, you’re on an app, it tells you what group you are, but what if you could pair the groups together almost in like social clubs? And then you have this group making recommendations to, or a person in this group making recommendations to the rest of the group that, you know, they should light because scientifically they’re in the same group.

And so there’s a lot of

[00:16:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, I love that.

[00:16:48] Henry Barham: Yeah.

[00:16:49] Bianca Harmon: I mean, there’s just so many ways you could go with this even just in tasting rooms having it be something that they, like they before they even start their tasting, they do one of these tests, they input their information.

Do these tests, I mean as a group like, you know, the so many bachelorette parties and all of this. You know, sit down and like include that in their wine tasting.

[00:17:15] Henry Barham: Yeah. So I think we’re open to all of it, is sort of the short answer.

[00:17:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: The amount of ideas are out there. It’s amazing. You mentioned that you were going, started with wine and you were kind of looking and kind of seeing how the, how would this be? What would you have to alter to go into spirits or some other type of

[00:17:30] Henry Barham: Yeah, so it’s I mean it’s subtle like the, the test I would say look and feel is very similar. But basically, the way it works is you, you sort of start by taking, okay, so say for instance like coffee’s an easy one to describe because coffee’s the one that Bianca had mentioned that everybody says like, oh, do you like broccoli? Do you like black coffee? All this.

But so you figure out which of these receptors are stimulated by the specific components of the beverage or food or whatever it is. And then you just tailor the test. So with the, with the strips that you’re talking about are basically, they’re litmus paper strips, but they’re coated in chemical agonist for the specific receptors.

So basically like with wine, you take the components of wine, you figure out which of the T2Rs they are directly stimulating, which of the T1Rs they’re directly stimulating and then you use known agonist or stimulants of those receptors on the test. So then it kind of brings to light their level of expression or basically their phenotypic expression, the amount that they’re expressing of these receptors that are important for the components of that beverage.

And so if you leave for it to craft drinks like you’re talking about, you just basically take the specific drink or the alcohol that, and then which of these receptors it stimulates, and then you just alter the test or the, you know, the chemicals that stimulate to sort of bring out what their expression is on those specific ones.

And then the two tied together. And that’s kind of the, the background of, of sort of how it works. Because, you know, it’s interesting because I’ve talked to a lot of people about this and you know, there’s not really tests out there, taste that can be utilized. And that’s different than most of the other neurosensory, like points of perception or detection.

And what I mean by that is like, you know, take vision for instance. You’re wearing a pair of glasses I have contacts.

 And so like, that world has been explored and there’s a lot of augmentation in that world. And what I mean by that is like, you know, perception of vision whether it be, you know, light or color. You can take 10 people and show them the same thing, so take ’em to the Grand Canyon. They all look at it and they say, man, that’s, you know, I can tell it’s colorful, it’s deep, it’s big, it’s impressive.

But until each of them put on glasses, you know, you have some people that are nearsighted, you have some people that are farsighted. Until they put on glasses, you don’t get that full sensory experience, right? The perception of just how great it all is, but the way you get there is by literally measuring their ability to detect vision.

So it’s the detection of it, and then you augment it, and that’s where they get this full experience. That’s sort of what this product is. So we’re literally measuring their ability to detect certain products, and then the wine is glasses, right? In that Grand Canyon analogy. So the wine is what sort of brings out their full experience because like, what the data would suggest and what, you know, I believe is that when people are in an experience together, you mentioned like the bachelorette trip or you go to dinner, the data would suggest that people are all looking for the same experience but they are coming at it from different angle.

So like if you have some people that, I don’t wanna say, you know, like nearsighted farsighted from a vision perspective, but you have some people who have high expression of these bitter receptors. They’re actually kind of turned off by bitter products. You have people that have, you know, high expression of T1R sweet receptors, and so they can really intensely perceive, you know, sugars and sweet products.

And so like if they’re all sort of searching for that same experience. This allows you to marry or match the wines for each of them so they get that full experience, whether it be like sitting out by a pool or eating, you know, in the summertime or eating fish, which is very different than like a late night meal where they’re having like a big, you know, steak and like a big umami meal.

But they’re all similarly sort of longing for the same thing. And so what this product is doing is literally just detecting their ability to perceive these different tastes and so that, you know, from a science standpoint it’s, I apologize for getting as excited as I do, but it’s fascinating for sure.-

[00:21:59] Bianca Harmon: Well, I just think of it as like something as I worked in tasting rooms for a very long time. People come up to my bar, I’ve never tasted wine before, but we really wanna taste wine. We really wanna do this, and you only get five wine samples, right? And so, you know, you start off with the basics.

You know, Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noirs, you know, if they don’t like those then you go to a sweet. ‘Cause usually you’re not gonna start with a sweet start with a sweet, you’ve completely washed their palate. Right? But so at this point now, they didn’t like this. They didn’t like this, they didn’t like this, but they love the sweet, well, I had five sweeter wines that could have given ’em, and then

[00:22:33] Henry Barham: It’d be nice to know that on the front end.

[00:22:35] Bianca Harmon: Right. Right. Instead of them using all these tastings up on wines they did not like at all. You could guide them in the di direction of what

[00:22:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It also takes the intimidation out of it.

[00:22:47] Bianca Harmon: Yeah.

[00:22:47] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And that’s something we’ve been trying for a long time. The first thing you do when you ask someone, what’s that wine do you like?

You’re gonna force them to say, “I don’t know.” Or force them to divulge some sort of personal information that they have a chance to with peer pressure. Usually, they don’t say what they really think by handing them a litmus strip by handing this suddenly all the pressure’s off and it just kind of, the ball starts rolling in a non-intimidating way.

[00:23:09] Henry Barham: And I’ll tell you, it is funny you, you said sweet wines on the, the one that your group went to. And an interesting thing that I think we were not expecting in all of this is, and there’s been a lot, but sweet specifically, you know, historically if you like sweet wines, I think that like, people don’t want to admit that. ‘Cause it’s like, oh, you like sweet wine you, let’s not know what you like cheap wines or you don’t know anything about wine, so go drink your sweet wine.

And so I think that people don’t wanna admit that. And I will say like the people that this test says they’re in that, they almost feel like, freed or vindicated, where it’s like, you know, I’m so glad to know this because, like, I didn’t wanna admit that, but now I like have a leg to stand on where I can tell people, you know, like, you know what? I am supposed to like sweet wines because that’s, that’s literally what my palate, you know, is currently for.

And so, that’s been really interesting, you know, that you have a, an entire I guess part of the wine that people wouldn’t admit that they like and now it kind of gives them the freedom to be able to admit that.

[00:24:16] Bianca Harmon: Well, and it’s very true. I mean, as somebody that did it on a regular, I mean I prefer, I don’t really like sweet wines. I like ’em for a purpose, but they would, they would come up to your bar and be like, oh no, we don’t want sweet wines. Then everything they’ve tried up until that point, they hated, and then they tasted sweet wines and they’re like, oh wow, this is fantastic.

This is what I like, and it’s like, just admit it from the beginning. Just say it. It’s okay. My job is to help you. But

[00:24:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: A lot of people’s experience with sweet wines like Mad Dog 2020, so they, they might not know what a good, sweet wine is.

[00:24:48] Henry Barham: Yeah. Fair enough.

[00:24:49] Bianca Harmon: It’s just fascinating. It’s incredible.

[00:24:53] Henry Barham: No, it’s been really fun. For sure.

[00:24:54] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Where are we at with the development? So we talked to you back in December. Bring us up to speed. We’re now in middle of February.

[00:25:01] Henry Barham: Yeah. Honestly, you kind of asked the question earlier and I think we’re trying to decide the next move.

So we’re, I mean it’s ready, meaning I think the answer would probably be coming soon, meaning available to public. But I think the real answer is, you know, the test is ready. We have them available to ship. We have large quantities of them. The app is up and running. We’ve been sort of playing with that to sort of get the kinks out.

As you know, everything you do has kinks, but it actually,

[00:25:26] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah, I saw the app on your website –

[00:25:28] Henry Barham: I know.

[00:25:30] Bianca Harmon: That wasn’t there in December, was it? There was no app in December?

[00:25:33] Henry Barham: No, it was basically, we were just there giving the,

[00:25:36] Bianca Harmon: On iPads.

[00:25:37] Henry Barham: I’ll tell you what. Yeah, yeah. No, like the first version of it was, and it was like the, I don’t say poor man’s version, but it’s like, yeah, we had an iPad that had like the internal, you know, built-in questions and stuff and it did compute it.

Now the app is, I mean, you can download it on your phone, computer, or tablet or whatever your choice is. But yeah, the test can ship to your house and you can take it at home or wherever and, and it does it all for you and then makes recommendations. And then it’s sort of building in the gamification part where it, you know, links from a social aspect.

But I think, you know, trying to decide the, the best way to roll it out because we’re open to everything and like I said sort of met and have been discussing with different, you know, vineyards and distributors of the best way to do this. That they could utilize it, in addition to us just rolling it out.

Because, you know, y’all know this industry better than we do. And so, you know, having y’all and, you know, other people’s guidance and it is sort of, you know, invaluable to us. So we’re, we’re sort of pivoting right now to decide kind of what the next move is. But soon to be determined, I think.

[00:26:46] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And on the website you talk about partnerships to, we have a lot of industry people listening to this.

What sort of partnerships are you currently looking for? That

[00:26:53] Henry Barham: So, I mean, open to anything, you know, even just people like I’d mentioned earlier or like you know, wineries sending it to, you know, them being able to utilize it to send it to their clubs so that they can sell more wine. That’s kind of the, the point.

Or I think that you know, the company’s tagline is how science sells wine. You know, but from an individual sort of tagline or whatever is like the science behind your sip. And so I think we’re open to all of it. So like, whether it be vineyards sending to their clubs so that they can make rec, you know, more informed or more scientific recommendations to send to their club members. All the way to like large distributors, you know, utilizing it in retail places basically to, to sort of garner interest in wine.

 Even, you know, to restaurants or like, sort of from a social aspect, utilizing it there. So I think we’re open to all of it and honestly have met with different people.

[00:27:53] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s very good. Now this is Legends Behind the Craft and you’re, you’re the legend. So I need to ask you a couple questions about your innovation. What drives you to innovate?

[00:28:02] Henry Barham: I think the, the old term of, you know, curiosity killed the cat. But gave a scientist a career. The, I think, you know, I am fascinated not only my practice, obviously I, you know, just practice in nose, sinus, taste, smell, disorders, and so I think that that there is the potential here, specifically taste and smell.

Number one, it has become so mainstream in the last three years with people losing it, that people have interest in it. Which is cool. I don’t know that cool is the right word. Butexciting from, from the aspect of someone who does research in this. But I think that sort of the answer is intrigued and very interested in how we can better understand the detection of taste by measuring specific taste receptors and how we can utilize that to improve people’s overall perception of the full experience of taste and smell in everyday life, whether it be wine or beer, or experience our food, you know?

[00:29:19] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Oh, for sure. And I mean, extremely motivated. It’s on your way. You have 150 publications and book chapters to your credit, that takes, that takes dedication. How do you stay motivated through?

[00:29:29] Henry Barham: Admittedly like that is, you know, you’re always kind of a, a product of your upbringing and I’ve had incredible mentors. So like those, you know, while I have a lot behind my name, obviously I, you know, that was the bulk of that is other people doing. You know, like having great ideas that I was able to sort of follow through or if I had, you know, a few good ideas, you know, a kind of team that has helped me through it all.

And so, I think curiosity and like that’s kind of the biggest deal. And so like, I have a great practice, and a great lab to be able to, you know, to explore things. Whenever you have a question. The bill, the ability to be able to sort of look into it. That, I mean, that in and of itself kind of drives me to do it because, you know.

[00:30:15] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah.

[00:30:15] Henry Barham: We have a great team here. I’ll say that.

[00:30:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I always talk. We very rarely get the luxury to talk to somebody at such an early stage of the, of the startup. So usually I’m asking like, what would you have done differently in like tenure hindsight, but this early stage of the startup, whether you’re kicking this off, is there anything you would’ve done differently?

[00:30:33] Henry Barham: Yeah, I don’t know. That’s a, it’s funny. It is a, so early in the game, but certainly, there are things that I would say we, yes. But more than that, I think our team has been incredibly adaptive at like, rolling through sort of all of it. I would say like the transition from, I mean, we still have the medical arm that I work with, you know, that company.

 But the offshoot of this is like, hey, you know what, if we tried this, you know when it came to wine and it’s like now sure. Everyone was really interested because like you have a science company who’s like, wait a second, we’re about to do your research on wine and taste is like, yeah, I’m all in.

[00:31:10] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Heck yeah.

[00:31:11] Henry Barham: Yeah. The people were pretty excited. And so, we, you know, that was kind of an easy pivot or I’ll say like a side project that has gone in with the others. You know, I would say right now like, I don’t know that something that I’ve done differently. But I will say it’s an interesting point we’re at right now.

I wish I had foresight to know like what the right path is because, you know, while we’ve looked at going direct to public or that was our initial plan. It’s still like, I think that, that if you took that avenue, that is very exciting. And that’s kind of where we stand of like wanting to get, you know, more data, wanting to get people.

To test it so they can experience it for themselves. But we’ve been shown recently the importance of working with the industry because, you know, y’all and the players in the industry are the ones that know what is actually needed. And so like, we’re, we’re doing that in hopes to not, you know, sort of trip on ourselves just by getting it out there.

‘Cause we could get, you know, the data out there. But then if you’re not, if you don’t have anything to go into the industry with, so what. People paying a test and then great. It says I should like this wine, but maybe I’ll remember that next month when I go to go, you know, buy wine as opposed to like, working with industry to where we say like, hey, you know, let’s get the test to people so then people have a better experience.

It makes it, you know, hopefully, more cost-effective for them to buy wine. But they also, you know, hopefully, better appreciate the wine that they’re drinking because it’s tailored for them. And also helps the industry, you know, like, you garner interest in this old thing that, you know.

That is kind of the path I think that we’re looking to take because it makes the most sense and I think everybody benefits there, whether it be the consumer who wants to know wine, this is, you know, an easy access to wine and they don’t have to spend a couple years fig and you know, the money and buying it, figuring out what they like as opposed to, you know.

One thing I would say like, you know, I get asked about this a lot. And I wanna make a specific point that this is not, or I don’t intend for it to be like a, an advanced level test. Like this is not a master of wine, you know, test. This is for somebody who like, wants to know, I wanna, I wanna start liking wine. I wanna start drinking wine. This kind of,

[00:33:39] Drew Thomas Hendricks: The foundation foot in the door.

[00:33:40] Henry Barham: Yeah. It’s like it figures it out. Maybe you cut off half of the wine out there that don’t waste your time, you know? On these, because it’s just not tailored for you. It doesn’t mean it’s bad wine. Actually, there’s groups that are gonna love that wine and it’s perfect wine. That’s what we’re saying is like these vineyards and these distributors have an incredible product, but if it gets in somebody’s mouth, you know that that is not ready for it.

Or they’re like, it just sort of collides with literally their receptors. That’s not gonna go great. So like in a, in a society where people, you know, swipe left, swipe right, like, I don’t like that they just kind of dismiss it, you know, out of the gate.

[00:34:17] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Yeah.

[00:34:18] Henry Barham: That’s not fair to the, that’s not fair to the vineyard. It’s also not fair to them that they have to waste their time, you know, and money to get, to figure out what they like. And so what we’re hoping is this is like, quote, an entry test, but honestly kind of get them right in the middle of it to figure out what they like and then they can spend the rest of their life really refining specific from there.

And then, you know, hopefully, it can transition into other aspects of life in terms of other beverages and food and stuff. But – in wine is. Wine component or the this project has been the most fun from a scientific standpoint. We had when we were out there with y’all, we had the opportunity to go tour vineyards and seeing like, the science behind growing everything from like the rootstock to the grapes and like the weather and how this factors in.

I mean, I grew up in a farm or on a farm in North Louisiana. Obviously not a wine farm, but like, you know, cotton, rice, corn, and so seeing the wine industry and all the science that goes into that is fascinating. And so I don’t, that was a long-winded answer and

[00:35:23] Drew Thomas Hendricks: But there was some, so many golden nuggets in there.

 I want to draw the viewers back to it because usually ask that question because hindsight is really helps innovators figure out, you know, what they need to do. And you brought up a few key points there that you were, you’re right in the midst of it, and you were willing to adapt, started off going direct to consumer and then you also brought, and then moving more to involving the industry.

If you’re gonna end an, enter an industry, you did it right. It’s so important to involve the industry right at the outset versus perfecting a product, assuming that they’re gonna embrace it. Whereas now,

[00:35:55] Bianca Harmon: The fact that you were at WIN Expo too was like so surprising to me.

[00:35:59] Henry Barham: Yeah, I honestly it, there again, it’s like advisors, you know. Someone recommended, “Hey, y’all ought to try this, this out.” And we went knowing, you know, not much other than it was just gonna be a big event filled with people in the industry. And so it was, it was super exciting

for us.

[00:36:14] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Have you been to other wine industry? We’ve had just had a series of ’em in the last couple months.

[00:36:19] Henry Barham: We didn’t go to the, I guess there was recently one in Sacramento.

[00:36:22] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Unified that would, that would’ve been huge. That’s,

[00:36:24] Henry Barham: That’s what everybody said. And okay, so you asked like, where did we stub our toe, or what would we have done differently?

We’ve now heard not going to that, but I’ll say, you know, George Christie has been great, honestly. We’ve been able to, you know, send him emails, call him. So he, he’s been, you know, helpful just in terms of like, in introduction to the industry. But no, I mean we’re so new. Yeah. I think our goal is to honestly attend all, you know, sort of all events that we can to.

There’s actually a total plug for Louisiana, which is where I am, is a food and wine festival in New Orleans. Which we’re very blessed here to have incredible food.

[00:37:01] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That would be great.

[00:37:02] Henry Barham: But we’ve talked about yeah. Doing there, setting up and measuring or, you know, testing people at that thing.

It’s we’re open to all of it and, and sort of shorting it –

[00:37:13] Drew Thomas Hendricks: As you need to be in –

[00:37:15] Henry Barham: Yeah, for sure.

[00:37:18] Drew Thomas Hendricks: That’s fascinating. So, Henry, as we’re wrapping down, is there anything we haven’t talked about that you wanna bring up or let the viewers listen? Know, know about?

[00:37:26] Henry Barham: No, it’s up to y’all. I mean, like,

[00:37:27] Drew Thomas Hendricks: We’ve could really gone through it. I gotta say, you guys gotta get onto the site, where can people find out more about you? I’ll let you introduce your domain.

[00:37:35] Henry Barham: Yeah, in terms of the company, which the it’s, you know, V I N O T A S T R instead of taster, yeah, you got it. There’s

[00:37:45] Drew Thomas Hendricks: VinoTastr. I saw it in my WIN Expo card here.

[00:37:49] Henry Barham: Yes, And that has kind of, it’s currently, you know when they first did the first iteration of the site, it was very much direct to consumer as you, as you referenced.

And I think it’s more tailored towards industry now. Which is our current approach until we, you know, maybe we pivot in the future. Maybe we kind of have two arms. But the goal is that we get it directly out to public eventually. Whether that, you know, our we would love to work with industry to do that.

But ultimately it’s, it’s for the end user. Like it’s for them to be able to enter into this world, to be able to figure out what they like and then to go from there, you know? But obviously, we would love for industry to be able to benefit off of it by utilizing it to help their customers. ‘Cause that’s what they are, you know, the end users. The customer of these wineries and distributors.

But you know, we just. We hope to be sort of a, a middleman between the two. Because really for us it’s the science. I mean, that’s what it all goes to and that’s what we’re, and then the data ultimately. Which is, which is another interesting point is like demographic data has been an interesting point from a scientific standpoint of like how that difference, you know, for different subgroups of the population.

And then, you know, moving forward to potentially other products. But for now, we’re kind of, I keep saying potentially we, we’ve done initial testing on those other, you know, beverages and things, but, but this one, it’s been fun and I think nobody wants to let it go quite yet. And we wanna,

[00:39:32] Drew Thomas Hendricks: I think it’s, I think you’re just at the start of that. This is,

[00:39:34] Henry Barham: I totally agree. So we’re, we’re not, we’re not really chasing the others heavily, quite like we are in this one for sure.

[00:39:42] Drew Thomas Hendricks: And you’ve got a great slogan, how science sells wine.

[00:39:46] Henry Barham: That’s what you know –

[00:39:48] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Right. To the point. Well, Henry, thank you so much for joining us today. This has been fascinating and could. Yeah, it was great to catch up and I can’t wait to see where you guys go. We’ll have to have you back in a year and see the latest iteration.

[00:40:01] Bianca Harmon: Yes.

[00:40:01] Henry Barham: I’d love to. No, thank y’all so much for having me. And if y’all make it down to Louisiana, especially going to dinner at Zorba’s.

We’d love to have y’all down here.

[00:40:09] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. Have you been to the restaurant lately?

[00:40:12] Henry Barham: Not, well, not in probably, I mean, over a month. We, you know.

[00:40:15] Bianca Harmon: Oh, okay.

[00:40:16] Drew Thomas Hendricks: It’s pretty recent.

[00:40:17] Bianca Harmon: That’s pretty recent.

[00:40:18] Henry Barham: Fair enough.

[00:40:19] Bianca Harmon: Yeah. We’ll give Antonia lots of love if you see her. She’s an incredible person, so.

[00:40:25] Henry Barham: Thank you all so much.

[00:40:27] Bianca Harmon: Thanks, Henry.

[00:40:28] Henry Barham: Yeah.

[00:40:28] Drew Thomas Hendricks: Have a great day. Thank you, Henry.


[00:40:30] Henry Barham: You too. Absolutely.