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Gastronomy Editor's Pick

Your smartphone can tell you all about wine

There are more than a dozen wine apps which serve different purposes, depending on what one’s needs are; they are changing the way people appreciate and buy wine.

For all who are not true connoisseurs, selecting the right wine in a restaurant or for dinner guests can be a source of stress and embarrassment. Now, however, there are apps that can help you to make the right choices and wine pairings with various dishes. In fact, there are more than a dozen wine apps out there, which serve different purposes, depending on what one’s needs are. Like TripAdvisor for hotel reviews or OpenTable for restaurant reviews, wine apps are changing the way people appreciate and buy wine.

Some of the apps are made for serious collectors who may look for details about niche wines or information about where a certain wine can be purchased or price comparisons. Meanwhile, other apps offer updates about wine festivals in a given region or explain how to taste wine at a vintner’s premises.  

Vivino

One of the most popular wine apps is Vivino, which provides details about a given wine, such as user and expert ratings, price, features and the nearest store where it can be purchased. Vivino is considered to be the best wine app for scanning labels on a smartphone and probably has the largest following, with over 34 million users. Otherwise, the app offers information about wine regions, wine & food pairings, grape varieties and allows one to purchase wine based on taste and ‘like-minded users’.

Localwineevents

Localwineevents provides information about wine fairs and exhibitions in one’s immediate vicinity.  Since the app automatically adjusts to one’s location, it makes it possible to explore events in other regions while travelling. The site claims to have posted 677,701 events and to have 303,917 email subscribers and 193,000 Facebook fans.

Decanter’s ‘Know Your Wine’

Decanter’s ‘Know Your Wine’ app is a veritable pedagogical tool that offers the user a way to learn about wine. It can be particularly useful for apprentice sommeliers, who may be preparing wine exams or for those who simply would like to become confident about their wine knowledge. The initial material is delivered in over 10 free modules and further ones are available as app purchases or via annual self-renewing subscription.

VinoMatch

VinoMatch caters to more advanced wine drinkers, with a search function that finds wine based on the finer details such as flavour or grape type. The app allows consumers to search wine based on tastes and aromas, in addition to traditional search criteria (vintage, region, etc.) It endeavours to match specific wine to one’s personal taste preferences using a visual sensory rating system and claims to be able to give a clear idea of how a wine tastes before it’s purchased. VinoMatch can also recommend a wine for dishes, such as roasts, pastas, seafood.

Wine Picker targets restaurateurs

While most wine apps target the individual consumer or wine aficionado, Wine Picker offers its service to restaurateurs in the form of a virtual sommelier, which helps diners at an establishment to select the appropriate bottle from its inventory for a given item on the menu. This app removes the need for clients to consult an ‘authority figure’ and allows them to get the needed information directly on their smartphones, something that should particularly appeal to millennials who typically don’t feel the need for human contact to get answers to perfunctory questions.

Indeed, for the average person, choosing a bottle of wine when going out to dinner can be a tricky task.  For example, there are about 500,000 wines in the world and, in Switzerland alone, there are 200 different grape varieties, of which 40 are indigenous, according to Josselin Guibert, Wine Picker’s CEO. 

As examples, if you were to order a steak tartar at Côté Cour Côté Jardin, in Geneva, Wine Picker will recommend a 2015 bottle of Apologia Grand Metral, whereas if you were eating filets de perches at the restaurant of the port at Pully, it will advise you to take Chablis Moreau Naudet from 2015. The Wine Picker app selects wines not only on the basis of gastronomic compatibility, but also according to price. In fact, customers using the app will be offered 5 choices of wine to accompany their meals.

Wine Picker was launched in May 2017 by two Frenchmen, Josselin Guibert and Julien Sahut, and now counts some 15,000 users of the app, spread out between the UK, the US and Switzerland, where it was, in part, developed. Of the 600 restaurants which have adopted the app, 60 are in Switzerland - mainly located in Berne, Geneva, Lausanne and Zurich.

A turnkey solution for restaurateurs

The start-up was financed by its founders and seeks to earn revenue from restaurateurs through charging for supplementary services offered, which include: management of the wine menu, data analysis and training of service staff.

A next step will be to help restaurateurs to understand the tastes of their customers. Wine sales are important for food & beverage establishments, constituting some 30% of revenues on average. If restaurant managers have information, such as: wine consumption by day of the week, or by time of day, or by dish on the menu, they can improve their offer, notes Josselin Guibert, who claims that restaurants that use Wine Picker can increase their wine sales by 10% to 20%. 

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