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Home | Wine Tasting 101 | Theres a (wine) App for that!




There's a (wine) App for that!

Brian Gurnham Chief Cork Officer

Having finally embraced the Apple ecosystem late last year, I thought it would make sense to use my trusty iPad to track my wine collection.  Mind you my “collection” hardly warrants mention in the top 10 wine cellars in the United States, but nonetheless I do manage to keep about 20 cases of wine on any given day, just enough to be able to lose track of exactly what I have.

So I set out to research wine applications available for the iPad and was surprised to find the wide variations in features and functionality available in apps that appear when searching for “wine” in the App Store.  iPad wine applications range from cellar management, research and education, locating a wine, food and wine pairings, wine reviews, and social networking.

I scoured the web for reviews, and not finding a lot, a decided to download six apps based on the number of reviews each had in the App Store.  The apps range from $1.99 to $3.99.  I then tested each against my functional requirements.  I wanted to add and track five wines, research a little about the region and grape variety of each, and locate where the wine could be purchased.


Without the rigor of Consumer Reports, I rated each – wine is after all big on ratings – on its ability to easily fulfill my stated objective.  Unfortunately I found no application worthy of a 90+ rating.  Most all applications suffer from some combination of underdevelopment, a lack of user interface design, missing critical functionality, or application instability.

Remember, the platform is the iPad.  There are other applications optimized for the iPhone, Delectable being a good example, but more on that in a later article.

89 Cadent WineCellar ($1.99)



Cadent WineCellar is the most full featured app that I found. The user interface is very much database driven, don't look for any pretty pictures, colors or background themes, only pure functionality.  The app runs on all iOS devices, and Mac and Windows versions are available. Fields are included for name, winery, country, region, appellation, cellar location, quantity, purchase date, value, score (for recording media scores e.g. WE90 or WS88), ratings (your own 1-5 rating), status, wine style, varietal, vintage, drink after date, drink before date, tasting notes, and sync status.  For the most part, users are not restricted to pre-set values for fields, allowing for personalization and maximum flexibility.  As each new entry is made the application learns, and the pick list grows for successive data entry.

Pre-set grouping are available for all fields, and provide the user with a quick view into the database.  Other nice features are the ability to add a photo of the wine bottle or label and that the app does not require an Internet connection other than for syncing.

You can synchronize up to 200 wines to the cloud by registering for a free account or up to 500 wines with the purchase of a desktop version.  Synchronization is not available in trial versions of the Mac and Windows edition.    

While not yet worthy of a 90+ rating, Cadent WineCellar is a solid entrant with its focus on functionality and ease of use.  The application undergoes regular updates, and is responsive with customer support requests.

Best Features

User control of field values
Internet connection not required other than for synchronization and research (provided by accessing Snooth.com)

Limitations

The application for the iPad is limited to 300 bottles which can be raised to 500 with the purchase of the desktop version ($25).
Bottle or label images will be distorted unless you crop it first to the relative dimensions of the window provided (roughly 1.5:1 height to width).

87 Cor.kz ($3.99)

Cor.kz is the iPad companion to the full featured Cellar Tracker, a web site started ten years ago by Eric LeVine, a Microsoft engineer, as a hobby.  Levine decided to share his hobby for free and today the site boasts nearly a three quarters of a million visitors every month, logging entries, writing and reading user supplied reviews.  The site has information on more than 1.5 million bottles; 3.9 million user-supplied tasting notes, and ratings from a combination of “pros” and members of the Cellar Tracker community.  The focus of the application is cellar management and user generated reviews although it also includes a Pedia with hundreds of short articles about wine regions, wine glossaries and related

Although extremely robust, Cor.kz and Cellar Tracker can be a bit overwhelming to the new comer.  Searching for a wine from Veneto for example yields a list of over 5,000 wines.  Navigating through the massive database can be mastered, but requires an investment in time.  Adding a wine to your cellar is also a challenge, as it must first be located in the database before it can be added.  When I tried to add a 2010 Montoya Chardonnay, multiple entries appear, one as Monterey, and a second with Monterey County – which to add? 

The user interface is a bit kludgy, however has some nice features.  The “Drink” button allows you to quickly update your cellar inventory, and with the compare button, you can see the Cellar Tracker user community ratings, and price information for several years. Some features sound great like the bar code scanner, but this reviewer tried scanning 5 bottles and only one would recognize the bar code.

Best Features

User review community
Comparison feature

Limitations

Cannot manually enter wine to the cellar, must first locate them by searching the database.
Requires Internet connection

86 Your Wines HD $1.99



Wines HD is an interesting mix of information and functionality.  Basic cellar tracking is available with limited fields (title, varietal, vineyard, region, vintage, drink by, size, rating (1-5), purchased location, purchase date, cost, quantity, and tasting notes.

The app also contains a guide of varietals including basic descriptions of aromas, flavors, region of origin, and related information.  The app is that the user can supplement the Varietal guide by adding their own content.  Unique to this application is the ability to add To-do lists – finding wines, learning about wines, sharing with friends or even a wine shopping list.

Best Features

+ and – buttons for easy updating of inventory in cellar
Ability to add a photo of bottle or label
Share wine or cellar via email with friends

Limitations

User interface is excessively graphic, can be hard to follow
Some display issues when data is not entered into a specific field

85 AG Wine ($3.99)

The AG Wine App is all about education.  The app contains hundreds of information snippets about wine regions, appellations and grape varieties.  Users can navigate the articles by choosing a style, grape variety or region.  Regions and grape varieties can also be identified by choosing Food Type with hundreds of dishes listed in eight broad categories.  The app is not yet complete in terms of geographic coverage (Santa Barbara, California, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Coquimbo, Chile, Constantia, South Africa) however there is nonetheless an extensive collection of information, more than enough to keep the budding oenophile engaged.

Best Features

Graphic user interface
Hundreds of mini articles about wine regions
Very detailed maps of many wine regions
Vintage charts

Limitations

Pairings functionality did not work
Limited ability to add user data (can mark as favorite and add notes)

83 IntoWine Food & Wine Pairing ($1.99)

IntoWine Food & Wine Pairing is an app that focusses on suggesting food and wine pairings for everything from brunch to gourmet cuisine. The iPad App is used in conjunction with the IntoWine web site, and acts as the mobile version into content available on the site.  The iPad app also provides wine locater functionality by linking its bottle recommendations to WineZap.com.  This is a great app if all you are looking for is food and wine pairings.

Best Features

Graphic user interface
Hundreds of dishes with associated recommended wines

Limitations

No functionality - basically a mobile interface to the IntoWine web site.
Requires Internet connection
No cellar management

79 My Wine LogPad ($1.99)



My Wine LogPad is an app designed to track your wine cellar. Basic information includes name, vintage, place flavor, bottle count cost current value, rating and type.  The naming and available choices on the data fields suggest that this application was developed with a minimal understanding of wine.  Despite this, the application has an easily understood user interface, which includes basic sorting of wines by name, rating, year, type and place.  What is missing is any sort of searching capability, and once more than a couple of dozen wines are entered, finding them could become a challenge.  The app is at version 2.5, but has not been updated since July, 2012.

Best Features

Graphic user interface

Limitations

Lack of updates
Nomenclature
Cannot update pick lists
No searching

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