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:
- 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
- a quick way to search a bottle that I was holding in the store and see aggregated customer reviews
- 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.