3 Cool Free Wine Apps

15 05 2011

Wine information is everywhere.  If you know where to look, it’s easier to learn about wine now than it has ever been:  if you grab the right books and magazines, go to the right shops, visit the right websites (say, a friendly neighbourhood wine blog), or if you have a smartphone, download the right apps, you can bring the world of wine to you with relatively little effort.  You shouldn’t feel like you have to completely immerse yourself in wine learning unless you have a genuine interest in doing so, but a little bit of knowledge will go a long way towards demystifying restaurant wine lists and crossing the thresholds of wine boutiques without intimidation.  I’ve previously discussed three great wine books that would make a great starting point to your wine education; tonight I’m going 21st century and looking at three killer wine apps that cost nothing but provide a ton of information and entertainment about everybody’s favourite topic.  Apologies in advance if this post is sort of iPhone-centric — if you have a Blackberry or an Android smartphone, these apps may very well be available to you too, but if not, you could always do yourselves a favour and get an Apple upgrade…  🙂

  1. It's like RedLaser, but for wine and way way better.

    Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings:  I start with this app because it’s that rarest of beasts:  a Canadian-made, Canadian-focused, actually good wine app.  This app is hot off the presses and has just been substantially upgraded to offer one of the coolest features I’ve seen in my smartphone-using life.  It uses your smartphone camera to scan the barcode of a bottle of wine, then routes that barcode through its database and pulls up reviews, tasting notes and pricing information about the scanned wine.  I’ve tried this twice on two different bottles of wine, and both times the app popped the correct bottle up on my screen within seconds of my taking the barcode picture.  If you’re ever agonizing over whether a wine you’re eyeing in the liquor store is any good or not, here’s an easy way to find out.  The app also features a comprehensive wine/food pairings section (both for pairing wine to a certain food and pairing food to a certain wine), as well as recipes and reviews.  Grab the app in iTunes — either search the App Store or link to it from here.

  2. For more GV, check out tv.winelibrary.com. This is how wine learning should always be.

    Daily Grape:  Many of the features on this app are geared towards paid subscribers, but there is one emphatic reason to download the free app anyway:  the daily mobile wine review show.  Host and site owner Gary Vaynerchuk — once simply the proprietor of a wine shop in New Jersey, now an online/new media guru and wine celebrity — posts a video episode to the app each day where he reviews and discusses a couple wines in quick-hit fashion.  Each show is 10 minutes or less and is watchable on your phone, though the episodes are also viewable at www.dailygrape.com.  If you ever doubted that wine could be interesting, watch the passionate and almost manic way bottles of vino are praised or panned on DG for a couple of episodes and I guarantee you will change your mind.  There are some theatrics involved in the presentation of the reviews, but underneath it all there’s a TON of solid information.  I’ve been watching for a couple of months and it has definitely expanded my wine knowledge and horizons.  You can link to the app in iTunes from here.      

  3. There should always be an app for boring memorization info.

    Wine Spectator Vintage Chart:  There are no bells and whistles in this app, just a ratings list of every recent vintage from every important wine region in the world, a touch away, for free.  Vintage info isn’t critical for every wine — most inexpensive wines are generally made to taste consistent vintage to vintage, and the best producers of wines in a region often work their magic whether it’s an amazing vintage or a poor one.  But when you’re buying a bottle that’s between those extremes, it can come in handy to know if an entire crop somewhere was hailed out in a certain year or if another year was the vintage of the century.  This falls under the heading of information that’s good to know but extremely annoying to memorize, so having 20+ years of worldwide wine-growing history in your phone nicely solves that dilemma.  Link to it in iTunes from here.  

To summarize, now you can walk into a wine shop, scan a wine’s barcode for an instant review, swap apps to check the vintage rating in a new window and then click over to a video review of your chosen bottle, all in less in a minute.  I heart the future.
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