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Which Wine Do I Want to Buy?

This article was written by in Consumer. 5 comments.


I enjoy a good glass of wine, but I don’t know how to find one. I haven’t been buying wine long enough to have memorized a group of “go to” bottles. I probably made the mistake of buying Bolla Pinot Noir three times before I finally learned that I don’t like it. Between my unreliable memory and the multitude of labels, I am unlikely to pick the right bottle without some help, and suffice it to say that I’m not interested in Sommelier School. What I wanted was just a handy tool to help me navigate the shelves and avoid mistakes.

Fortunately, I have a smartphone with downloadable apps that I don’t leave the house without. Every few weeks, when I would think about it, I’d try to find the right tool for this particular job, but the feature lists were wrong, or the reviews were unflattering, and I’d give up and forget about it, and then I’d buy a wine that was more of a depressant than it should’ve been, and I’d go looking again.

What I needed was an app that had, in order of importance:

  1. an area for me to store wines I had tried and give them scores, so that I could seek them out or avoid them in the future
  2. a quick way to search a bottle that I was holding in the store and see aggregated customer reviews
  3. a search tool for narrowing down by price, region, year, etc.

When it comes to shopping, whether you’re deciding between wines or movies, in order to get a good sample of reviews, you have to go where the biggest audience is. For example, for movie reviews I like Metacritic’s interface better, but more people contribute to Rotten Tomatoes, so that’s where I look. With that in mind, after trying a couple of apps with good reviews, but having bad usability experiences myself, I decided to see what exists on Wine.com. Naturally, wine.com exists primarily to sell people wine, wine gift baskets, wine accessories, even monthly wine clubs. I’m not interested in those things, but their mobile app does include my three requirements, and it’s easy enough to ignore their attempts to get me to buy through the app.

Learn more from the app developer’s site. Sometime this year they plan to include food pairing suggestions, which will also come in handy, because right now the only thing I know is that red wine does not go with fish.

I’d like to claim that beer drinkers have it easy, but they have basically the same problem, except that it’s cheaper to make a beer mistake.

Photo by paulaloe

Updated September 12, 2011 and originally published July 20, 2010. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Smithee formerly lived primarily on credit cards and the good will of his friends. He is a newbie to personal finance but quickly learning from his past mistakes. You can follow him on Twitter, where his user name is @SmitheeConsumer. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Dr Dean

Smithee, I am not an oenophile, by any stretch. But I have been drinking wine for about 20 years, (trying to get my 10,000 hours in.:)

I try to focus on a grape type and a region for a period of time till I decide if I like it or not. That way I am not distracted by thousands of choices. When I have food with the wine, I can decide whether it “goes” or not. I have found, just like movie reviewers, my taste and that of a reviewer rarely mesh.

If you can find a local wine store, with a salesman whose taste matches yours, then you have hit the jackpot!

From a personal finance standpoint, I have found the wines of Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand to be good buys, and therefore less of a loss if they disappoint.

I drink wine for fun, so not sure a phone app. will add to that, but if you find one that works, please let everyone know-it will be fun to have an excuse to try it…

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avatar Elle

That wine.com app sounds handy Smithee; we may have to try next time we go out shopping.
We enjoy trying out new wines, but also have a hard time choosing the right one. Right now, Cabernet Sauvignon is kind of our default type of wine if we can’t choose.

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avatar Candide

Find a type of wine and region you like, and stick with it. It’s fun to explore, say, all the different producers of Chianti or Rioja that you like.

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avatar Dr.Mad

I second the wine.com not just app but the website. I get all my wine from there, you could search by reviews, ratings, types, discounts, and popularity. That is what I call an intelligent buy, it is definitely better than starring at bottles in your local shop with no clue what to buy. Plus they are cheaper than any local store guaranteed. for 49$ a year you get next day delivery with no minimum on purchases. I ve been using them for a year now and I totally love it!

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avatar razmaspaz

I really like snooth.com and their accompanying app. Does everything you want. Really a powerful app, and will have any and every wine you find in your local store. That said, there is no substitute for a good relationship with a local seller. Someone who can take what you like and make good recommendations.

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