Nov 13 2013
It’s been nearly a month since I downloaded, in the name of research, a handful of wine-oriented apps onto my iPhone and now it’s time to report my observations. People think that drinking wine and fiddling with your iPhone is all fun and games but I say, “Science!”.
So, the results: out of the 8 apps I downloaded, I’m going to discuss 5 of them. For the most part, across the board, this current generation of wine apps is a huge improvement. I still have some reservations about all the attempts at reducing the mysteries of wine and pairings down to an algorithm but feel that there are some apps out there that could prove genuinely useful for the average drinker. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
WineSearcher: WineSearcher.com is a website I go to all the time. It’s simple, has clear and singular purpose (where can I find X wine?) and, although it’s not the niftiest looking website out there it gets the job done. The app version opens up to a random stock image of a guy in a suit perched a couple of steps up a ladder that has been randomly perched in a nondescript dessert who is looking through a pair of binoculars. I could do without this lost gentleman. However, once I’ve made it into the app, the first page goes ahead and shows me all the nearby wine shops in descending order of proximity with a handy one to five star rating next to each shop. From there, I can also search for a particular wine nearby. This is a wine app that knows what its doing and does it well without a lot of gimmick (but with a random image of a guy in a suit who is lost in a dessert somewhere with a ladder. He looks nice. I hope he finds what he is looking for).
DrinFoo: Drynfoo is one of the prettier apps I downloaded, aside from the ads along the bottom that I suspect may be the app’s entire point, and its aimed at helping you find the perfect wine pairing with whatever you’re serving. One of the things that immediately sets this app apart is its bizarre choice of categorizing foods. Enter the “Veggies” section, for example and “Lentils” has its own category. As does, btw, “Eggplants” – as if there are so many choices in one’s day-to-day when it comes to eggplants. Where are the bell peppers? Carrots? Broccoli? You know… normal things that people eat frequently?
To be fair, they’ve got you covered in the “Meat” section with Kangaroo and Ostrich as options. Whatever ingredient you’ve chosen, your next step is to choose its preparation. Was it Broiled? Grilled? Braised? From there, you’re asked to choose a sauce (herbs, cream, tomato?) and when you’ve finally inputted your dish you’re taken to a screen that shows you… not the suggested pairing! But instead! A list of countries! Ok… let’s try Chile! That should get me a wine! Nope. Now you’ve got to select a variety. Ok… Carmenere! Finally! A wine! Aaaand… nope. Now I’ve just got an info page that lists the characteristics of what a Carmenere is and those characteristics are “Red, Still, and Dry.” Helpful. Finally, I am led to an “Explanation page” that tells me that “A full red wine serves as a perfect marriage to my kangaroo.” Welp, I guess I know I should find a full red wine (but what kind?!) to serve next time I grab some Kangaroo meat. Overall, although it looks nice and hip, this is an app that won’t be making it through the next app cull.
WineQuest: WineQuest does things a little different. Rather than ask you to input foods for pairing, it starts you off with a fairly comprehensive “Taste Interview” that consists of about 20 questions about what you generally do and don’t like to eat and drink. Once you’ve finished your “Taste Interview”, the app pulls up a series of 10 red wines that are a mix of fairly commercial and famous wines (Silver Oak, Louis Jadot, Kendall Jackson) and asks you to rate them using a fun finger-controlled gauge that ranges from “Double Yuk: hate it (1)” to “Double Yum: love it (5)”. Now that you’ve got your Taste Profile set up, you can walk into any wine store or look at any wine list, select a wine, type it into WineQuest and, based on the information you’ve supplied, WineQuest will tell you whether you will love or hate that wine.
I tried it a few times to varying degrees of success but generally it was fairly correct. On top of that, once you’ve found the wine, WineQuest will find you and tell you the closest place you can purchase that bottle of wine. Bonus! You can add frequent drinking buddies, build profiles for them, and ask WineQuest whether they will also enjoy the bottle of Malbec you’re considering. Overall, I think it would be nice to have a feature where users can connect with one another and share profiles so that each user is not responsible for building their friends’ profiles. For me, this app is pretty useless only because my friends couldn’t care less what they’re drinking as long as it has alcohol in it.
Blush For Wine: This was another wine app that, similarly to DrynFoo, seduced me with a lovely millennial-targeted aesthetic. It looked clean, modern, and fun. Blush for Wine combines a couple of features that I liked in both WineQuest and WineSearcher and does a much better job of tailoring pairings based on another “Taste Survey” (How do you like your coffee? Lots of cream? A little cream? Black?) to find out what kinds of wines I like and also recommend specific bottles rather than generic grapes/regions. It will also pair my dish with wines that I like that are available nearby! Useful! You can also snap/scan wine for an in-depth description from the app. This is a keeper.
Delectable: Look at me, I’m the worst – I saved the best for last. Delectable is basically Instagram for wine geeks. That’s literally all it is – you have a profile where you take pictures of wines that you’re drinking, can write tasting notes, and can rate the wine on a cute sad-to-happy-face sliding scale. If people are following you’re your wines will show up on their “Feed” and visa-versa. Other Delectable users can “like” and comment on your wine. My only problem with Delectable is that there are not nearly enough people on it! The other problem? Some people… cough…. don’t quite have a handle on the etiquette of social media so rather than snap as they sip, my feed will get inundated by a flood of back-logged wines that are posted all at the same time – clogging my feed with 20 pictures from the same user. It’s annoying. Don’t do it. Also – get on Delectable!