Are wine apps user-friendly and worthwhile?
There seems to be a big move to bring apps to wine lovers but are they any use? We have tried 3 and are underwhelmed. Are we just Luddites or have you had better experiences?
iPad wine lists
We were in a great steakhouse near Washington and had our first experience of using an iPad wine list. Now we must start by admitting two things which probably have significant influence on our views
- We don’t have an iPad being more a Google and Microsoft user
- We don’t know very much about USA wines
Our strategy for attacking a wine list when we don’t know much about the wines of the area is simple; what type of wine do we want; what vintages are available; what is in our price range. We then go through an iterative process of scanning the wine list to identify candidates. If there is a sommelier who looks helpful we then ask for guidance otherwise we just take a stab at one that seems reasonable.
But this strategy did not work for us on the iPad. It is not easy to scan the list quickly; you obviously can’t stick your finger in as a placeholder for a likely candidate. So we resorted to asking the sommelier. He suggested a wine that, when it came, we recognised the label immediately as we had drunk it before. We would have preferred something that we had not tried before but it was just too much hassle to start all over. The one thing that the iPad could have helped with was an image of the label but it didn’t have that. So all in all not a great experience.
This seemed like a winner. One takes an image of the label and then rate the wine on a simple scale. After a few wines it begins to predict which wines you will like. Take an image of a label in a wine shop or restaurant before you buy and the app will tell you if you will like it. This is ideal for one of us who finds many red wines ‘furry’, a comment that leaves us scratching our heads. We hoped Wine Ring would be able to work this one out and then encountered the problem; the app database obviously has to include the wines that you have been tasting and rating and the wine you want to try. How long does one persevere in the hope of getting something useful? Maybe we should try again in a couple of years when the database is more comprehensive.
Perhaps the ‘TripAdvisor’ of wine sites and therein lies the problem – do you trust the ratings of fellow wine lovers. For example, when we looked recently at New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs Villa Maria got a 4.1 rating and Dog Point got 4.2; we think that they are poles apart. If you are going on holiday you are going to be spending quite a bit and so taking time reading through the positive and negative comments and the way they are expressed gives one a reasonable view of how you might perceive the place. But, wine reviews just don’t do it for us. Having said that, one new customer to halfwine found us on Vivino so it can’t be all bad.
Please let us have you comments below on wine apps that you think are useful.