One of the most enjoyable parts of opening a bottle of wine for me is sharing it with others. I cannot speak for everyone, but the social experience of wine is a part of the buzz (pun intended) we love about this beverage. Over the last few years, growth in wine-related mobile apps has allowed people to communicate, connect, and share these moments in a fashion similar to social networks like facebook. There are hundreds of wine-related mobile apps available to download on your iPhone/iPad and Android devices; many are free or cost a few dollars. There are apps to help you search specific bottles, find out more about a particular winery or wine in general, follow what others are drinking, get recommendations about wine, and track and rate your favorites. Others help manage your cellar, log tasting notes, or allow you to buy wine direct from your cell phone or tablet. I’ve highlighted five that are at the top of most reviewers’ lists, listing them in two categories based on specificity.
-Social Networking Apps
With a simple, streamlined style, the Delectable app allows users to snap pictures of wine labels and receive instant information about the wine, including but not limited to: tasting notes, varietal composition, producer, terroir, and ratings from others. The app also lets you log your own tasting notes, as well as share and rate the wines you’re drinking; think of it as an instagram-style platform centered around wine. Introductory messages to new users explicitly encourage them to become “educated and inspired” by following its community of wine professionals. Effectively, Delectable is the app right now for sommeliers, wine makers, critics, and industry professionals to share what they are into at the moment. The sheer accessibility to its group of elite members, along with quick technology and an easy-to-use interface, is what sets Delectable apart.
Vivino is touted on iTunes as the number one rated wine app, shares similar photo recognition of wines, and also provides opportunities for connecting wine with your social life. It allows you to take pictures of wine lists at restaurants/bars and receive ratings and reviews while also being able to compare prices. Vivino does not provide the function for logging tasting notes; it encourages users to write reviews and take recommendations from others. While both of these apps let you learn from and share your love of wine with others, as well as buy wine directly, Vivino does not appear to draw the same level of professional community, speed and breadth of information as Delectable.
-Apps Primarily for Shopping & Collecting
Hello Vino is more of a navigator for buying wine than it is a social network. It provides recommendations for purchases based on your chosen preferences such as: occasion, food pairing, taste, and wine varietal. It even provides access to an on-call representative to help you make decisions while you’re physically in a store shopping for wine. It touts itself as being the app for “the rest of us,” and not for the wine snobs. However, because individual wine preferences can be partial and highly subjective, it may take a leap of faith in order to find the right wine using this app.
Drync is also driven to selling you wine; once you snap a photo or scan a wine label, it can provide availability, prices and ratings of that particular wine in your local area. It has the function to scan billboards, computer screens, magazines, and your personal camera roll as well. You can tap into lists their experts create in order to find out about different wine collections and help you make your next purchase. This app does allow you to keep tasting notes, share, and follow others.
CellarTracker has taken the success of its large online database of tasting notes (community and professional) and combined those features with cellar management on the go. This is particularly helpful when you are buying wine somewhere and want to check what you already have on hand. Users can read and write their reviews on this app, as well as track their consumption history and the locations where the wine was consumed (personal cellar, restaurants, wineries, etc.). (For more serious collectors, Cor.kz takes CellarTracker’s database and combines it with additional search functions, ratings, and comparisons for a small fee.)
Bottom line: most wine apps share many of the same features and drive users to their recommendations for the purpose of e-commerce. The choice ultimately depends on what you want to get out of an app, be it information about wines/varietals, growing regions, food and wine pairing, cellar management, or buying wine from your mobile device. Some are better than others as social platforms, particularly if you’re curious about what professionals as well as casual connoisseurs are drinking. You may prefer recommendations from online friends versus an expert to guide you to a new wine; however, these mobile apps are also designed to capitalize on the fact that our wine choices are highly subjective. At the touch of a button, a broad range of options exist within these apps for personalizing your experience shopping, sharing, and managing wine interests.
What I found particularly interesting about the recent rise in popularity of wine apps is that it coincides with a decline in the prevalence of point-based rating systems. Consumers appear to no longer be as reliant on specific industry publications to dictate the next wine trend or what wine they should buy and why. It begs the question, does the role of these mobile applications point to the end of the era of wine critics, such as Robert Parker and the Wine Advocate? Or have we simply traded one type of critic for another? I just may need to look that up on my phone.
Article written by Tiffany Harbrecht (former Cannery Row Tasting Room Wine Councilor)