As a Verizon customer and therefore a recent initiate into the iPhone era, I’m only beginning to discover the joy of wine apps. The frustration, too.
The joy, of course, is that the darn phone is addictively fun, just as wine is. Swiping my finger through an app isn’t quite the same as pulling bottles off the rack, but when I’m away from my cellar, it’s a good substitute.
Naturally, there are hundreds of wine apps available — a whopping 452 for the iPhone alone (not counting Android-based apps), according to the Web site VinTank.com, which recently tested all 452 and came up with a list of 26 it recommended as “most promising.”
The VinTank report divided the apps into categories such as “Reference” (for studying), “Journaling” (for keeping track of your cellar and tasting notes), “Retail” (for buying) and “Combo” for apps that combined two or more functions. Some of the choices seem a bit odd — the reference category includes an app for “Wines and Vines” magazine, which is geared to the wine industry.
As a writer, I was keen to discover it and the article “What Do Wine Writers Want?” But will weekend imbibers be interested in reading about consumer yeasts on their iPhones? To be fair, VinTank advertises itself as a “digital think tank for the wine industry,” so its choices may reflect its audience. And the reference category also includes “Daily Grape,” a free app by the hyperkinetic Gary Vaynerchuk. The app includes brief videos of Vaynerchuk discussing and reviewing wines, sort of snapshots of the Wine Library TV video podcasts that made him an Internet sensation.
When I read the VinTank report, I immediately downloaded the free Nat Decants, an app by Canadian writer Natalie MacLean. (Disclosure: MacLean and I have corresponded over the years, and I am a fan of her writing.) The app includes wine-and-food pairing tips, recipes, a journal for your tasting notes and a great compilation of wine quotations. (My favorite new one, from poet Dylan Thomas: “SOBER is an acronym that stands for, ‘Son of a Bitch! Everything’s Real!”) You can also get her free online newsletter, though her wine recommendations will cost you a latte a month in subscription fees.
The journaling apps can be fun. Cor.kz is a nifty $4 app that allows you to scan the bar code on a wine label and call up information and a label image from the vast and popular CellarTracker.com database. That trove of information keeps growing as users input more data. But these programs can also be a drag, and this is where the frustration factor kicks in. You still have to input a lot of information, which can be a chore with fat thumbs and a glass or two of wine in your system.
With all the wonderful things this gizmo can do, you’d think someone would invent an app that would cure my impatience.