For those who enjoy a glass of wine occasionally, or frequently, and would love to know more but either don’t want to ask or frequently buy in a hurry, these are my three favourite apps for wine information, whether it’s about the wine in your wine rack (or cellar), the wine you had at a friend’s house or that expensive wine you had in a restaurant.
There are a multitude of apps that will tell you about wine, so many that it can be confusing. Here are my favourites.
Vivino is a free app which almost certainly has the best label scanner, which is very good at analysing any label you offer it (take a photo within the app and you’re done). I recently tried numerous bottles including a difficult to read gold labelled Margaux and it succeeded with every one. Wait for the ‘voila’, click on ‘use’ and then you’ll find out the average retail price of your wine and then you can click through to buy it from an online merchant if you want to.
You’ll also find a summary of basic information, including region, grape and food pairing. Click on ‘winery’ for example, to learn about alternative wines and how to contact the wine maker direct.
Alternatively if there’s a wine you want to know more about, where you don’t have the bottle to hand, just use the search facility for information including the price and reviews. These are user ratings rather than official ratings but you can see who has provided the rating and how many wines they have rated on Vivino.
You can also work out how much the mark-up is if you’re in a restaurant, which can be annoying if you’ve shelled out a large amount for a wine that doesn’t cost that much. My advice? Restaurant mark-ups are in many cases over the top but don’t let it spoil your dinner, nor your wine. Look it up later……
Desktop, Android and iOs versions. Create an account and you can see everything on any device by logging in.
Wine-Searcher is an invaluable tool. it’s a wine search engine and price comparison website with an incredibly easy search facility. Put pretty much anything into the search engine from the winery to the name of the wine, and then narrow it down by vintage and country. Once you locate your wine you’ll see where you can (or can’t) buy it and find out immediately the average price, the region, the producer, the grape variety, and what to pair it with.
Then click through to Reviews to see how critics have reviewed it, and Profile to find out more about the wine. There’s a wealth of information here.
The free version doesn’t include all stockists. If you want to see everyone on their database you need to sign up to (and pay for) the Pro Version so if you’re always looking for that wine you tried recently and you're a serious wine collector you should sign up although see below, as there are so many wine subscription sites.
Cellar Tracker is another excellent wine information and cellar management website and app. It has a very quick search facility. Find the wine you’re searching for, then, if it’s one that you own you can add it into your virtual cellar. You can also see how it was rated. Cellar Tracker has one of the largest databases of community wine tasting notes.
Cellar Tracker is about what you have in your wine cellar. So forget about listing wines in a book and use this instead. Cellar Tracker was originally created in 2003 by Eric LeVine as a way to keep track of his own cellar. At the time he was working at Microsoft. This is most probably the best ‘cellar tracker ‘available. And it’s free, although if you want more facilities such as some pro scores, and automatic cellar valuation, you need to donate.
Wine.com is a US wine store but, and it’s a big but here, if they have the wine you’re want to know more about, and they have an enormous – they call it the world’s largest – selection of wines, search for it and you can see all the pro critic ratings which can save you a lot of subscription money.
I searched for New Zealand Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and could immediately see that Robert Parker Wine Advocate gave the 2017 vintage 90 points, James Suckling and Wine Spectator both gave the 2016 vintage 90 points.
There are many wine critic subscription based websites so if you find your wine here on Wine.com the free ratings are a bonus.
Which wine critic should you subscribe to/listen to? There are so many. Another post to come....