March 7, 2021

App Smart: App in One Hand, Wine Glass in the Other

No matter what level of sensibility you bring to drinking wine, there seems to be an app to suit you. ($4 on Apple and Android) is the best all-purpose wine app available for serious wine drinkers and collectors, while others like VintageChart+ by Wine Spectator (free on Apple), Hello Vino (free on Apple and Android) and Natalie MacLean Wine Picks Pairings (free on Apple) can help almost anyone navigate a wine list.

The most fun you’ll have with a wine app, though, will come courtesy of Daily Grape (free on Apple), which is the creation of Gary Vaynerchuk, the wine community’s everyman, who succeeds by doing everything broadcast journalism professors say not to do.

Daily Grape features Mr. Vaynerchuk’s not-quite-daily video review, which is accompanied by selected videos from the past. When I opened Daily Grape last week, the “Today’s Grape” video was from a week earlier, and focused on Plavac Mali wines from Croatia.

In his video, Mr. Vaynerchuk tastes the wine, Postup, then spits into a metal bucket. “Coffee bean. Grape ape jelly,” he says. “It tastes like an imaginary thought, of taking a Snickers bar and lighting it on fire.”

“You know how cereal gets dusty at the bottom of the bag?” he continues. “Count Chocula cereal, when you’ve got like six little circles left at the bottom of the bag and a lot of dust — if you threw that dust in your mouth, that’s what this wine tastes like. And I find that fascinating.”

Mr. Vaynerchuk offers some wine pairing suggestions — partridge would be nice, he says — then gives the wine an 8.9 rating. He then rounds out the segment by discussing Jerricho Cotchery, the former New York Jets receiver, who wore jersey number 89.

The app’s database of Mr. Vaynerchuk’s reviews is somewhat limited. To search the reviews, users select a region and varietal, then choose a maximum price.

The results include a wine’s ratings, but no video, and the search results were thin. I found just two California Cabernets, for instance, and both cost $100.

If you find something you like, though, you can add the wine to the Wish List section of the app or your own tasting notes in the Rated Wines section.

Daily Grape isn’t on Android yet, but some of the other good wine apps have made the transition. At the top of that list is, which, for more avid wine drinkers, is as close to an all-in-one mobile wine service as you’ll find.

On the front page of the app, a search box appears, along with a prompt to type the name of a wine or your CellarTracker ID, a reference to CellarTracker, which is a voluminous repository of user-generated tasting notes.

If you’re a user, you can manage your wine inventory with the app. But for everyone else, will function mostly as a way to choose a good bottle while you’re out and about.

If you type the name of a wine or select a wine after searching on a vineyard’s name, presents you with the average ratings and comments from the CellarTracker community and a recommended “drinking window.”

The 2001 Shafer Cabernet Sauvignon Anniversary SunSpot Vineyard, for instance, scored a 93.6 from CellarTracker’s users and a drinking window that spans 2008 to 2025.

Prices are also included, as are links to find retailers selling the bottle, through That Shafer bottle, by the way, sells for around $400.

You can save yourself the trouble of typing the entire name, thanks to the bar code scanning option. (The icon for that appears within the search box.) But it may not help much. Bar codes on wine labels sometimes correspond to different vintages from the same vineyard, and some wines lack bar codes. The developers of say their bar code scanner delivers the right bottle roughly 65 percent of the time, but in my testing, at least, that figure seemed high by about 15 percentage points.

From within, users can also connect to Facebook, Twitter and, most recently, Foursquare. When you log into your Foursquare account within, you can see where other users nearby are drinking.

Some other people will be happy enough just finding a quick reference to good and bad vintages, or for food pairing suggestions. lacks both, perhaps because it’s intended for more sophisticated users who know such things by heart.

For vintage ratings, Apple users can download VintageChart+, from Wine Spectator. Android users will find Vino Mobile Wine Vintages (around $2) useful. Both offer straightforward and generally reliable ratings, in a format that quickly delivers the information.

For food pairings, Hello Vino and Natalie MacLean Wine Picks Pairings are worth downloading. Of the two, Hello Vino was faster and easier to use — which is good news for Android users, since Ms. MacLean’s app isn’t available on that platform yet.

Some of my most frustrating wine-shopping tasks have involved searching for places nearby that sell, or serve, a recommended bottle.

Wine Searcher, a new app ($1 on Apple), is promising, since the company maintains a database of about 500,000 wines selling at various retailers. But since it can’t sort the results, you’re left to scroll endlessly through lists of establishments until you find something local.

Wine-Locator (free on Apple) is smarter about how it presents information, since it sorts search results according to how close you are to a retailer or restaurant that carries a particular wine. The big drawback is that the service covers only 18 vineyards. It’s a good list, with names like Shafer, Flora Springs and Lancaster Estate, and the service will presumably increase its listings.

But unless you happen to get extremely lucky with the wines in your area, the experience will likely leave a dusty taste in your mouth, similar to that old box of Count Chocula.

Then again, you might find that fascinating.

Quick Calls

Pano, a panoramic photography app that has earned high ratings on Apple, is now available on Android ($2). Photogram (free on Apple) lets users send photos from their phone in interesting albumlike formats.

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