Smartphone Apps to Improve Your Wine Smarts

hello-vino-resultIn this age of smartphones, tablets and instant access to information, it’s no surprise that the adage of “there’s an app for that” has made its way to the wine world.

Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or a novice wine drinker, a little knowledge can go a long way towards choosing the perfect bottle. In researching this article, a few apps appeared repeatedly as favorites and I’ve summarized them for you here:

Hello Vino ( is a robust wine pairing and suggestion app for the iPhone and Android. It can recommend wines with popular picks, value options and accolades. It lets you browse categories and subcategories of wines based on occasions, taste preferences, and wine varieties. You can take pictures of wine labels and use the app to get ratings, food pairings and tasting notes among others. It has a photographic memory which will help you remember your favorite wines. It also provides audio reviews. Cost: Free

Snooth Wine Pro ( for iPhone lets you snap a picture of a wine label and the app automatically matches it to Snooth’s database of over one million wines. Once a match is found, the app gives you plenty of data to help you locate it near you or find an appropriate substitute if it’s not available close by. With this app, you can also add the wine to your Wishlist or Virtual Cellar; purchase the wine online through the Snooth retail network; read expert and user reviews and post your own; and browse for similar wines by winery, region, or varietal. Cost: $4.99. Note: A free version of this app is available as well, but the image recognition capability is not available and ads are displayed.

For Android users, check out Swirl Pro. It has a lookup function that accesses the Snooth database for similar details, but you have to type in the name of a wine rather than taking a picture. Cost: $2.99. Note: There’s also a free version that allows all of the browsing and tagging, but only lets you add a couple of wines.

Wine Events ( is a simple, yet useful iPhone and Android app to have if you like to attend tastings, festivals, auctions and other wine-related activities and want to stay current on events in your area. It offers a plethora of choices for wine lovers, plus it gives you the option of posting the event to Facebook. Cost: Free ( is an all-purpose iPhone app touted as “like having a sommelier in your pocket.” Its most popular feature is its CellarTracker, which lets you access information on over one million wines. Use the search tab to find wines by name, region or varietal. There’s even a barcode scanner that identifies your bottle and delivers thousands of user ratings, tasting notes and other general information about the wine. Keep track of wines you like or want to try by rating them and adding them to your virtual cellar. Cost: $1.99

Wine Ratings Guide ( is another app for iPhone and Android that’s likened to having a personal sommelier with you at all times. This highly rated, user-friendly app connects to a database of over a million wines to provide reviews, tasting notes, pairing suggestions and price points. It offers room to add your own ratings and the ability to view customized lists from other users. Cost: $3.99

A few other apps worth checking out are Corkbin (, the Approach Guides Wine App (, Drync Wine Pro (, and Vivino (

Have another favorite wine-related app? I’d love for you to share your recommendations with me.

Can’t remember wine name? Now there’s an app for that

Flemings-SteakhouseThis article, written by Amber Nimocks, appeared in the June 16 edition of The News & Observer. I hope you find it to be as informative as I did. Enjoy!

Occasionally a wine tasting will bring a revelation, usually involving the personal discovery of a new varietal or region. But recently, a profound universal truth became clear to me as I was test-driving a new iPad application designed for wine lovers. I now know the real reason evolution has led humanity to become addicted to hand-held personal communication devices: to relieve us of the burden of remembering the names of wines we like.

This aha moment occurred last month as I spent an evening fiddling with a Winepad, the sleek new electronic wine menu that Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse has rolled out in all 65 of its restaurants. Winepads are iPads fitted with a custom-made app, developed by the chain’s national wine director and an in-house IT expert, that take the place of hefty, printed wine lists. The restaurant now offers one at every table and at the bar.

The experience of tapping and scrolling through the Winepad’s pictures and descriptive blurbs makes the traditional exercise of sorting through the pages of a traditional print wine list seem as onerous as reading the phone book.

Giving thanks for the wine scene

http://www.virtualme.bizThis is an exciting time to be interested in wine. Instead of worrying about which wine to serve with Thanksgiving, I think all wine lovers can give thanks for these things:

Wine education is taking off.

Today, wine classes are available for every level. For professionals, the Society of Wine Educators, the International Sommelier Guild, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Court of Master Sommeliers all have presences. In-depth courses and certification exams are now a matter of course.

For the hobbyist, there are too many choices to count. Most wine stores and lots of restaurants offer seminars and dinner pairings that can be informative, fun and a great way to spend an evening. And any time local folks, whether professional or enthusiastic consumer, gets a bit more knowledge, the local wine world gets more exciting.

Wine shops are terrific.

Say what you will about wishing for more bakeries and butcher shops, wine stores are excellent and thriving.

Shop around to find a store that suits you, then become a regular. Once you are comfortable and the staff begins to know you, the fun starts. Wine shop workers will keep an eye out for things you might like and you’ll be less hesitant to try something new and can experiment more comfortably.

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