The world of wine can be confusing: from thousands of varieties, unpronounceable wine regions, to vague (or overly complex) wine labels. But luckily (depending on your viewpoint) we live in the digital age where “there’s an app for that” applies to nearly everything. So we looked at four of the most popular wine apps to see their pros, their cons, and to see if they really are worth your time.
Overall, we think wine apps can be great, depending on what you want out of them. Some give you an idea of what’s inside the bottle before you buy, some are Instagram for wine lovers, and some help you keep track of your own collection. To do our comparison we looked at four apps — Vivino, Delectable, Wine-Searcher, and CellarTracker — and used the same four bottles of wine to see how each app recognized the wines and what other features they had.
Vivino is probably the most popular wine app there is, and out of the four we looked at it was definitely the nicest looking one. Originally it was created to be used by people with no knowledge of wine, however, this often meant it was too simplistic when it came to tasting notes. But with that being said, it has improved a lot over the years. They have hired their own editors to write entries that give summaries of the wine, the region, and the producer. You’re also given food pairing suggestions. These, however, remain too simplistic. Saying a wine pairs well with beef or chicken is just scraping the surface, to really get the best pairing you need to look at the sauces and spices used in the dish.
On another note, Vivino is the most social of the wine apps, which can be a good or bad thing depending on what you want out of the app. You can easily find friends on the app through your Facebook, Twitter, or Gmail and like and reply to the reviews of others. Likewise, you can follow specific people on the app to keep updated with their latest reviews. A word of warning though: we suggest only following people you know have the same palate as yourself. In other words, just because someone has plenty of followers or a bottle of wine has high reviews, doesn’t always mean you’ll like it.
There is also a Cellar feature on the app where you can add wines that are in your current collection. It allows you to add more bottles or remove bottles when you’ve drunk them so it makes it easy to keep track of what you actually have on hand. However, it doesn’t give you recommendations on when you should drink the bottles by which some of the other apps do.
Nevertheless, we think this app is great for when you’re in the supermarket or a wine shop and need help deciding on a bottle or knowing more about a specific wine. Just take a photo of the wine label using the app and it will give you all of the information you’re looking for. If the app doesn’t recognize the label, you can request for the Vivino team to manually identify it. Depending on the wine, the app might also give you an idea of the average price of the bottle so you can see if the store you’re at is pricing it fairly. As mentioned before, you should take the reviews with a grain of salt as not everyone has the same palate as yourself, but it’s a good starting point to get an idea of what is inside the bottle.
We’re sure if anyone has ever searched wine on the Internet, they would have come across Wine-Searcher. This popular website also has an app, and it’s one of the most robust search engines for wine plus it has a GPS-based store finder. You can type in any region, varietal, or producer and the app will give you all the information about your search term plus prices and local availability. A few quick adjustments to the filters and the app will show you what wines are available in the Philippines, at what stores, and at what prices with links that redirect you to where you can buy the wine.
Wine-Searcher also has label recognition tech that makes it easy to search for information on a specific wine. However, we did notice that it struggled to recognize the more niche wines which means you’ll have to manually input the right wine. Once you’ve found the wine you’re looking for you can see some basic details such as where it’s from, average price, style, variety, and pairing.
However, where we think this app truly shines is in educating about wine. You can easily find articles on regions and varieties, as well as an encyclopedia of wine terms. They have articles that get regularly updated with specific regions, varieties, and wine producers highlighted. Another feature that separated Wine-Searcher from the other apps was its “Discover” feature on the homepage. Whether you’re interested in wine or spirits, you can adjust the filters and the app will give you recommendations on what bottles to try.
While Vivino is a relatively social app, we think Delectable beats it slightly with its verified user and “drinks with” feature. This makes it a great app for keeping up with what your friends or fellow wine lovers are drinking. You can easily connect, chat, and meet other wine enthusiasts. However, if you don’t like this social element then the app might not be for you as you can’t make your profile private meaning anyone who wants to follow you can see your wine notes.
Unlike Vivino, it’s clear that Delectable was intended for the more experienced wine drinkers whilst still catering to beginners. It was also the only app out of the four that required you to do certain steps before using it. For instance, choosing styles of wines from their displayed options before being able to see the homepage. However, since these can be changed at a later date you could just choose any style and adjust later.
Similar to Wine-Searcher, Delectable has an articles section that can be great however you should just be wary of who the author is as some can be quite wordy and more of a personal journal. Nevertheless, if you wanted to learn more about wine or what’s happening in the industry, they can be an interesting read.
When it comes to searching wines, the app allows you to either scan the labels or manually input the details. Whilst the app did find the brand of the wines we scanned, it did struggle to get the right vintage or the right variety. Nevertheless, you could easily scroll through the list of options to find the right one or request their Customer Service team to manually input it.
Although its Taste Insights is a nice touch, it really only reveals what you already know about your tastes: the varieties and regions you drink most. Likewise, it lacks the cellar feature that Vivino and CellarTracker (see below) have to keep track of what bottles you currently have on hand. Similarly, although it has a “check price” feature, it can be quite glitchy and we couldn’t get it to work while we were using the app.
Depending on how much importance you put on design, CellarTracker may be a love it or hate it app for many as its design is quite outdated. However, it is the only free app out there that lets you keep track of the bottles you currently have on hand and where in your collection the bottles are. Possibly most notable is that it also tells you when you should drink your wines by so you can always drink them at their best. Of course, the benefit of this depends on how many bottles you keep but it’s definitely what makes the app stand out from the rest.
To add wines to the app you can either manually input it, use the label scanner which is powered by Vivino, or the barcode scanner which is another unique feature the other apps lacked. Once you have the right wine you can add all the details you want, such as your tasting notes, how much the bottle cost, how many bottles you have, where the bottle is located, etc. Another benefit of CellarTracker is that you can make your profile completely private. However, it does have the social element if you want that from your app. If you’re looking at where to buy specific wines, there is a “where to buy” feature that redirects you to the Wine-Searcher website.
Another notable feature of CellarTracker is the ability to print out a restaurant-style wine list of what you have in your cellar. This would be great for anyone with a large selection of wines or even for restaurant and bar owners as you can use the app to keep an inventory of your wines.
So, are wine apps worth your time? It depends on what you want out of your app. For the most part, we think wine apps are great if you’re a beginner or feel stuck buying wine at the grocery store. Just give the bottle you’re interested in a quick scan and you’ll get insights on what others think about it. But this is where we think you have to be cautious. As mentioned, just because someone else likes the wine (or hates it) doesn’t mean you’ll think the same.
We think the best recommendation is always that from a friend, or better yet, someone with the same palate as yourself. Once you find that group, they can be your northern stars to great wine, every time. In the meantime, check out our curated tasting notes for our selection of great-value wines, or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for recommendations!