The revolution is official: Wine-focused apps are now acting like digital sommeliers. They’re helping consumers navigate restaurant wine lists, discover and purchase new wines because friends recommend them and even have wine delivered right to your door. Say goodbye to your formative years—when wine meant nothing more than the promise of a (slightly) sophisticated buzz. Now, you can act like a wine pro with a touch of your fingers. Until your battery runs out of juice.
1. Wine Ring
Wine Ring launched in August 2014, backed by a handful of The Institute of Wine’s 312 Masters of Wine from around the world. The app is aimed at helping consumers pinpoint their wine “preference styles.” After tasting a wine, you rate it: “Love it,” “Like it,” “So-So,” or “Don’t Like” and the app begins establishing a roadmap of your taste preferences. The more you use Wine Ring, the more it will recommend wines suited to your palate. In some cases, it will even tell you if you like a wine before you buy it.
On a mission to protect wineries from deep discount sites, this app is all about the random upgrade. Wines that have been curated by a team of pros are listed at retail value, and every time you make a purchase there is the potential to receive a wine of greater value. Like Russian Roulette, but you always win. There’s also a free “cloud cellar” option, with which you can store purchases in a temperature-controlled warehouse and have them shipped whenever you prefer.
Available for: iPhone
This app has been making big strides with major industry pros—like sommelier Rajat Parr, critic Jon Bonné and Christina Turley of Turley Wine Cellars—who use it regularly. Snap a photo of the wine you’re drinking, tag friends and rate the wine on a sliding scale from “not for me” to “love it,” which then applies a numerical rating. The app finds the wine, and, if available, allows you to purchase and ship, without changing platforms. It’s great for discovering a new wine or for growing envious of what your fellow winos are uncorking.
4. Approach Guides Wine
Available for: iPhone & iPad
Co-founders and globetrotters Jennifer and David Raezer have done all the “dirty work” for you. And by dirty work, they mean they’ve visited and researched wine regions around the world. This app delivers a dictionary of expertly written, succinct and approachable content on grapes, styles and vintages and also provides detailed maps for a variety of regions (currently including the USA, Spain, New Zealand, Italy, France, Chile and Australia). The app has been around a few years, but a major update is in the works. Spend the few bucks for what will become one of your staple, go-to wine apps.
Available for: iPhone
By leveraging wine inventories sourced from over 2,400 restaurants in NYC, the Hamptons, Washington D.C. and San Francisco, this app essentially mimics the role of the sommelier and gets better at making recommendations the more you use it. It also remembers your taste preferences. The basics: When at a restaurant, punch in the protein you plan to devour (beef), a wine style you like (earthy) and Tipsi will populate options from the wine list. Go with your app-approved gut or talk it over with the somm.
Available for: iPhone
This app is here to help you navigate markups on restaurant wine lists. Restaurants make their money selling booze, but some make quite a bit more. Typical markups are two to three times the wholesale cost, or about double the retail price. Snap a picture of the restaurant wine list, and the app uses character recognition to sift through the CellarTracker database (a community of geeks who have generated close to 5 million reviews on wine). It then pumps out ratings, reviews, pricing information and food pairings. That’s only five bucks for one hell of an education.
By no means a new vintage, this is a critical app that should be in every wine connoisseur’s phone (novice or pro). The same database that WineGlass taps into is right here. It’s the best companion when you’re not in the mood to talk to the staff at a retail shop and you just want to know if the price of a bottle you’re eyeing is a few bucks too high, or maybe (and rarely) a few bucks under value. Many vintages of a wine are rated here, so you might learn that 2011 was less ripe than 2012 for X wine, which could make or break your buying decision.