Mobile Wine App is Your Pocket Sommelier in the Liquor Store

Antony and I chat about how mobile wine apps are changing the way we learn about wine, and buy it. You can get my new wine app here as well as watch a video clip about it on CTV News.

We also chat about great wines for summer barbecues and casual gatherings.

Post with permission for Global Television.

Anthony: Just in time for the summary. Have you ever gone to the LCBO and been so overwhelmed by the amount of choice? You don’t know if this goes with that or this or that or whatever. You don’t know how it tastes?

Well there is an App for that. It is a brilliant idea. Wine expert Natalie MacLean is here to talk about the new App for the smartphone which really breaks it down and makes it so much easier for the consumer.

Natalie: That’s what I’m trying to do, I’m trying to be like a pocket sommelier. I can’t always be there when you’re wine shopping, I would like to, but the App can. So…

Anthony: How does it work?

Natalie: When you’re in the liquor store and you’re facing, like a wall of bottles, you might say: well okay here’s a nice Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, I wonder, you know, is it any good? Does it go with my quiche or my grilled veggies or whatever?

Well, all you need to do with the App is scan the barcode and up will come the review. The wine review that I’ve done for this wine, so you’ll get my tasting notes, the score, the food pairings, and how much stock is in your local LCBO.

Say there was only two bottles in the store where you were. It’ll say we’re at Yonge and Bloor here, go down the street, it will give you the map, and there’s another six bottles down there.

Anthony: It’s amazing. Because, if you were at the liquor store, how do people generally choose their wine? Some people, I mean it’s silly to say this, but some people just base it, not just on price but also on the label because they don’t necessarily know what it is.

Natalie: Exactly. Most people shop by the label when it comes to wine.

Anthony: Really?

Natalie: Yep. Because we can’t open it, at least legally, before we try it. Right? And it’s an intimidating product. There’s a reason why we have wine critics.

So what this does is take that sort of intimidation out of it because a lot of people don’t feel confident to ask a question or don’t know the question to ask. So you just take your smartphone, you scan the barcode, oh wow, that got an 89 and it goes with plank salmon. It’s a lovely rosé.

Anthony: Let’s say I’m on the street and someone tells me about a wine and I don’t have the barcode. Is it possible to find that wine without having to go to every LCBO, is it possible to find that to know if it exists?

Natalie: Absolutely. So you can go the other way, you don’t have to start with the barcode. So you can just go to the ‘quick search’, start typing the wine, it’ll guess the names for you and all of a sudden it will come up with the review, and it’ll know where you are via GPS in real-time stock inventory and say hey, you’re at Yonge and Bloor, again, walk down the street, this is the wine, this is the price and these are how many bottles are in that liquor store now.

Anthony: So many people at home I’m sure are saying “it is about time”.

Natalie: Yes I think so.

Anthony: I mean really, it is one of those things where, especially if you’re not a wine expert, even if you’re just the average consumer.

Natalie: Exactly.

Anthony: You don’t know if it should go with this, especially with how specific wine is or it’s supposed to be.

Natalie: Exactly and you can start with the food. Let’s say like, people are generally intimidated by roast chicken. Roast chicken is roast chicken, but just so you can start with ‘okay I’m having roast chicken, now which of these wines here will go with roast chicken and where is it and what’s the price’ and that sort of thing, yeah.

Anthony: And some of the wines here I want to ask you, is there anything that stands out for you and any recommendation?

Natalie: This is great. I mean there’s a good line-up here. I mentioned this Sauvignon Blanc from Niagara, Reif is a great Riesling, nice cool climate, great for, say seared tuna on the grill. If we go to rosé, this is dry and a  lot of people have mis-perceptions about pink wines, but this is bone dry, great for the grill. Un-oaked Chardonnay from Niagara.

And then we get into some full-bodied reds, when you want a honking big red wine for grilled meats, that sort of thing. So all of these wines, I should mention, are under 20 dollars.

Anthony: (Inaudible) (3:39)

Natalie: So I’m really keen on that. Yes absolutely. So, but as I said, I think the combination of knowing which wines are close to you, knowing they’re in stock and being able to get the App, and I should just mention, the App is on iTunes, on my website nataliemaclean.com, there we go, good.

Just so you know, so they can go to my website nataliemaclean.com and they can find the App there, or they can just go right to iTunes. We were fortunate that iTunes put it on their store front.

Anthony: Because there’s one bottle of wine that I tasted months and months ago and for the life of me I can’t find it. And it’s one of those things where I’d like to know if it’s in that store without having to go to every single one.

Natalie: And then when you drink it, a lot of people forget the wine they had. So you can take a picture and keep a cellar log, and then the next time you go in the store you can say, do you have this wine?

Anthony: So it keeps a list of your favourites literally in your cellar in your smartphone.

Natalie: Exactly.

Anthony: So you can get also on nataliemaclean.com?

Natalie: Yes or iTunes or Android, Google Marketplace; and there’s a mobile website as well.

Anthony: We only have a few more seconds, but I want to ask you about organic wines. I mean do you label those? I mean the LCBO’s doing a much better job of letting people know which wines are organic. Some people prefer that, not just for health reasons but for taste.

Natalie: Well in the App we tag every organic wine so you can search on organic only, or kosher only, or best beef wine. So we categorize all the wines to make it easy. We’ve also got a section that says ‘top 10 wines in the LCBO you’re standing in right now’. I have no idea what to buy. Hey you’re in this LCBO, here are 10 wines.

Anthony: Brilliant.

Natalie: Thank you Anthony.

Anthony: Natalie MacLean, thank you so much.

Natalie: Cheers.

Anthony: Alright we’ll be back after this.

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