Wine App 101

Let your smartphone be your sommelier

It doesn’t take technology to order up a Coors Light. Just open the liquor store refrigerator or hail the barkeep.

Wine is another matter. Is it a quality wine? Will it go with the meal? Is the price right? Where is the wine recommended by my foodie friend on Facebook? Red? White?

Wine culture can be intimidating, and even attempts by wine experts to demystifying experience don’t always succeed.

Enter wine apps, a treasure trove of information for both wine newbies and the seasoned sommelier. These apps do more than let users buy wine with a few swipes of your finger. They educate on the best wines available, remember the bottles that struck your fancy and give even enthusiasts more information than they could ever need about wine.

“Everything is being done on our smart phones. Why not purchase wine?”

It’s empowering those who might not otherwise select a pinot noir in the first place. The Wine Institute reported that the industry’s annual revenue grew to $37.6 billion in 2014. Wine apps are playing a part in that growth. CNBC reports that 36 percent of U.S. consumers used wine apps to read product reviews and prices before making a purchase.

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“Everything is being done on our smart phones. Why not purchase wine?” said Leslie Sbrocco, wine expert and host of the PBS series, “Check, Please!” Millennials represent a “significant” portion of wine sales today, a group more likely than others to use their devices to buy bottles online.

The best apps are more than online shops. They remember the bottles you loved … and the ones you’d rather not drink again.

Sbrocco said she uses the site wine-searcher.com “almost every day.” It’s one of many sites offering a mobile version for the on-the-go wine shopper.

  • Wine Searcher – A vast database allows users to compare prices and hunt down hard to reach vintages.
  • Drync – App lets you “discover” new wines and offers a handy service for those in a brick-and-mortar wine shop. Users can snap a photo of the wine label in question and find a wealth of information within seconds.
  • Vivino – The app offers more than 13 million wine ratings and allows users to scan labels and provide quick pricing snapshots of the vino in question.
  • Hello Vino – This versatile, veteran app offers many options including helpful wine and food pairing tips.
  • Winery Passport – Ready to travel? This app lets users “stamp” their winery experiences on a virtual passport. They can record the best aspects of their experience while reading what others had to say about a particular winery.
  • Winery Apps – Some of the best wineries also offer their own apps to help with the buying, researching and sampling of their wares.

Sbrocco said apps are just one way technology is enhancing the wine sampling experience. Consider using Instagram and Twitter as additional tasting tools. Follow expert sommeliers and see the wines and wineries they recommend, she suggests.

“There’s tens of thousands of conservations about wine [on Twitter],” she said. Users can simply type in the name of a wine, a region or just a vineyard, and suddenly gain access to a wealth of helpful, real-time chatter.

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