Media Reviews





Choosing Wisely by Consulting the Sommelier in Your Pocket

By Bob Tedeshi

Shopping for wine is a lot like parenting a teenager. You feel stupid when you’re in the middle of it, and when you finally emerge, you’re desperately ready for a drink. There is, alas, no app for raising teenagers. But mobile software developers have begun aiming at oenophiles, and in so doing, they have established one of the more useful categories of wireless apps.

Appropriately enough, choosing the right one can be puzzling and tedious. One of the most refined entries in the current vintage includes Nat Decants ... fairly good now, and [it] should age nicely.

Before digging into the details, though, consider the overall value of these services for a moment. Let’s say you’re at your favorite wine shop with about 15 minutes to spare, and you want a bottle that will make your dinner guests coo, without maxing out your credit card.

The shop owner is helping someone near the Mouton Rothschild, and the other employees are 23-year-olds with extensive beer-stocking skills. Rather than choosing a random bottle or asking the beer guys, you can now just reach for the sommelier in your cellphone.

Nat Decants is available on iPhones and BlackBerrys. But this app belongs in a different subset of wine-related software — those that help users pair wine with food. Nat Decants is the creation of Natalie MacLean, a wine journalist and registered sommelier.

To use it, select from a drop-down menu of either food or wine, and the software offers you suitable options from nearly 400,000 food and wine pairings. You are given, for instance, 18 wine varieties that go well with lobster.

 

Brodie Beta

Nat Decants: Comprehensive wine guide for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid, Nexus, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones

Wine lovers know there’s nothing like the right pairing to compliment a good meal, but not everyone knows whether the Chianti or the Merlot goes best with what’s for dinner. That's where mobile devices come to the rescue. With quick access to a large resource of wine recommendations in seconds, even a vino novice can uncork the right vintage. Mobile wine apps promise to help you with picking a bottle for dinner, gift or special occasion.

Nat Decants recommends pairings around the wine you already have on hand or the dish you’re already serving.

The app lists a huge variety of dishes, flavours and spices in each food category and when you’ve found the perfect match, you can record the info in a virtual wine cellar. You have access to thousands of free reviews dating back to 2001.

Nat Decants also has a great feature in its Wineries search, which helps you find vineyards across the country.

Nat Decant's list of features and options -- backed by a professional wine expert -- makes it the clear winner. It's a great app and a must for anyone into wine.

 

 

By Bill Daley

OK, so you don't know a box wine from a baby brunello and that big dinner with colleagues/clients/current object of obsession is just a day away. You want to be dining and wining but will likely be dining and whining ... especially if all you can say to the waiter is, "Got any wine coolers?"

You could sign up for Wine Appreciation 101, but frankly, who has the time? Enter your friend, The Faker, who called on Tribune wine critic Bill Daley for his cheat sheet on pro-style ordering. Follow his script, look like you know your way around a pinot. And whatever you do, don't be afraid to fake it.

Order a weird grape variety. For example, Daley says, the pros love dry riesling, but most people won't go near it. Too sweet, they fear. Yet they drink fruity cocktails. Go figure. Of course, you need to have an idea about how that "weird" wine tastes with food beforehand. A great simple-to-use Web site for food and wine pairings is Nat Decants (natdecants.com) by wine writer Natalie MacLean. Type in the wine ("riesling") and you get a briefing on how the wine tastes and what foods she recommends (Thai dishes, California-style pizza, for example). Another click and you'll have specific wine bottles you can ask for when ordering. (Don't worry if the restaurant is out; ask for something similar in flavor -- and price.)

 

By Leslie Gervitz

Don't know which wine to have with a pepperoni pizza? There's an app for that -- as well as websites and Twitter.

The number of ways to discover the most suitable wine for a particular dish can be as overwhelming as walking into a large wine shop.

More than a dozen apps claiming to be the equivalent of a sommelier in your pocket are available for iPhones and iPods. And there are others for the BlackBerry and other mobile devices.

But among the most popular is the Nat Decants Food & Wine Match. Wine blogger Natalie MacLean also provides the same information on her website (www.nataliemaclean.com).

If you want to find out which wine will go best with lamb vindaloo, MacLean, who has almost 400,000 wine and food pairings, recommends Shiraz for red or a white Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. She also suggests food pairings with beer, whiskies and cocktails.

 

By Monica Bhide

 

These days, Americans are enjoying a broader universe of ethnic cuisines and wines, and so the inevitable questions arise: What to drink with vindaloo (other than chilled beer)? What to pair with kung pao? Which wine goes with cilantro?

I turned to Natalie MacLean for answers. She's the editor of Nat Decants, a free, award-winning wine newsletter.

At the outset, I copped to my lack of knowledge about the subject she knows so well. I told her honestly that each time I go out to eat Indian food, I always order Gewurztraminer, a wine my somewhat limited experience tells me pairs well with this food. She told me: “Did you know that the name translates to ‘spice wine’? It’s got an aromatic intensity (full of rose petals and litchi) and stands up well to a spicy meal. It is not a wimpy wine.”

Her advice is practical and makes so much sense: “Choose wines that are not aged in oak and don’t have large amounts of tannins. Tannins actually accentuate heat and salt. High-alcohol wines with spicy foods will make your mouth taste like it is on fire.” Of course, while that makes perfect sense – crisp, aromatic whites are a great choice for spicy foods – I wonder if it means that reds are totally out of the picture? “Of course not,” she says. “You can definitely try a wine that contrasts with spices, like a plush red that is ripe and fruity or some soft Italian reds." For wine pairings with 48 herbs and spices, visit nataliemaclean.com.

 

Note: Computerworld Magazine selected its Top 5 Food & Wine Apps. We were thrilled when Nat Decants was named as one of them and the only one with a primary focus on wine! Apps by Jamie Oliver and Epicurious were also chosen. Here's the review:

Renowned drink writer Natalie MacLean has created an app unlike other food and wine apps: this one pairs together food and beverages, lists glossary terms so you can understand the ins and outs, recipes, a winery directory and cellar journal.

It has wine reviews which you can search by winery, price, score, region, grape, vintage, food match, to be precise.

There is an extensive range of food including cheeses, meats, vegetarian, pastas, pizzas, foreign cuisine and desserts.

The immediacy with which you can access wine information – while looking for a bottle to buy with dinner -- is a winner.

 

About.com is a New York Times company

Stacy Slinkard

From needing a few spur of the moment wine recs while scouting at your local wine shop, to pairing wine with music, there are plenty of wine-themed applications to partner with your iPhone. Many of these apps offer similar user experiences, with some geared deliberately for the novice and others for buyers that lean more heavily on cellar management tools.

If you've been to Natalie MacLean's website, NatalieMacLean.com, you have an idea of what you're in for with her new wine app.  The Nat Decants Wine & Food Mobile App is truly an extension of her site, packed with food and wine pairing advice, and you can pick your starting point - the food or the wine and take your pairing from there. It's relevant, witty and always user-friendly, with fresh tips, real-time wine reviews and as always highly entertaining!  Cost: Free

 

Heather Fletcher

Hmm. What sounds good for dinner? Roast chicken? Apparently Lady GaGa would agree. But for many, what's more important than aligning their appetites with the quirky singer's supper choices is that all important wine pairing. Thousands of recommendations for what to sip come courtesy of the "Nat Decants" mobile application from Natalie MacLean , a sommelier and author of "Red, White and Drunk All Over."

As a direct marketer, MacLean says, she needs to ensure that her audience follows her between book launches. So the writer runs a Web site, speaks, sends out a newsletter and more. But she knows that those in liquor stores, grocery stores and restaurants are making choices on the spot and that's exactly where her advice needs to be—on their mobile phones. So she created a free app, which she's found ways to monetize.

Here, MacLean joins Christopher Carfi , co-founder of the San Francisco-based software provider Cerado, which created MacLean's app, and Justin Gray, CEO and chief brand officer of Scottsdale, Ariz.-based automated marketing software provider MaaS Impact, in providing tips on how direct marketers can make the most of their mobile apps.

The trio recommends that the following happen before marketers launch an app:

1. Ask a few internal questions. Carfi says before designing a mobile application, marketers should decide if they're providing: information to the customer; an extension of their service to the consumer via the app; or a way to connect back to the organization. (MacLean says her app does all three.)

2. Give mobile users a reason to continually open the app by providing timely, relevant information. So, what's the wine to pair with the roast chicken? MacLean recommends a California Chardonnay. But which California Chardonnay? She says perusing her reviews aids in that decision in a variety of ways.

First, on her free app, she provides free reviews and pairings. But for the most current reviews (from the past year, meaning the reviewed wines are probably the most widely available ones in stores), she charges $2 a month. Then she sandwiches that with other free services, like the "my cellar" option that allows oenophiles to catalog their purchases so they can read her reviews, then see if they own the cited varietals. (MacLean points out that she also monetizes the app by hosting third-party advertisements and providing navigation to her site, which has third-party ads and links to buy her book.)

MacLean says she updates the content daily, so that when mobile users relaunch her app, they find new blog entries, articles and recipes.

3. If a marketer wants to provide services on the app, decide what's appropriate. Companies should question, "Are there aspects of services that the organization provides that actually are able to be provided in a mobile format?" Carfi says. "So we're starting to see a lot of organizations provide and create mobile apps that actually give a small slice of their overall service or their overall functionality, but in a format that can be used anywhere."

In MacLean's case, she can provide advice on food and wine pairings.

4. If the company wants the app to connect back to the business, figure out what connection that should be. "[It's] an opportunity for the organization to really start getting feedback from the customer, as opposed to just pushing messages at them," Carfi says. "But actually engage the customer in a conversation."

Why not let customers provide comments and submit pictures about, for instance, new product ideas? They might have ideas about how to use existing products in a new way, he adds.

5. Set up tracking mechanisms to determine how to follow up with consumers. Gray says he pays attention to how consumers arrive at the app and what they choose to view on it. That way, marketers can note the most appropriate channels to use to address consumers' needs. For example, someone who downloads a travel app might be interested in a white paper or a video on that subject, Gray says. If consumers visit a Web site as a result of the app, Gray says the drill-down can even go as far as sending differentiated messages to consumers based on how long they stay on the site.

6. Set up ways to do what Gray calls "progressive profiling." Ask for no more than four items of data at a time, because more than that might overwhelm consumers, he says.

7. Decide on the app price. If marketers want a large audience, they should really consider providing the app for free, MacLean says. Her first app, which launched in June 2009, cost $2.99. The free app she launched this year had 10 times more downloads.

"I really think that the mobile market is where it's heading," MacLean says of her direct marketing efforts. "I'm certainly not giving up on my Web site. But I think if you want to stay connected to an audience, you need to have a mobile presence."

Brian Hook

Mobile software developer, Cerado, developed the free Nat Decants mobile app for noted wine journalist Natalie MacLean.

The mobile app is a guide to more than 300,000 food and wine pairings. It also includes reviews, recipes and articles. All of this information can easily be shared on social networks using only a mobile phone.

"Mobile is all about the customer's experience with the application and the device," said Christopher Carfi, CEO of Cerado. "When mobile apps are done well, the device itself seems to disappear, and the user is able to be immersed in the experience."

While some developers have found the approval process for mobile apps difficult, especially with the iPhone App Store, Carfi told TechNewsWorld it is not difficult.

It is important for developers to understand the requirements of the approval process, he said, adding that the Nat Decants application was approved by Apple in less than a week.

 

 

Chuck Sudo

We've profiled need-to-have food and drink-related smartphone applications in recent months, from Stolpman's review of the Poynt app, to Lizz's recount of beta-testing the Foodie app. Now they're starting to come fast and furious, with MenuPages' application only one of many to be released.

As an iPhone user, we have more applications our phone than are really necessary and have slowly been paring down to those we feel are essential. Recently, we tested out three applications for to see whether they meet that standard.

Sommelier and author Natalie MacLean has put together a free app for all smartphone platforms allowing users access to her free reviews; tracking your wines in a virtual cellar; a wine glossary; food pairing matcher; sharing capabilities with Facebook and Twitter; a directory of over 10,000 wineries; and recipes. For the novice wine connoisseur this application is one of the more user-friendly applications available.

 

Shelley Boettcher

Not only is wine critic Natalie MacLean (author of Red, White and Drunk All Over) a whiz with words, she's also extremely handy with new technology. She recently launched a new, free mobile wine application for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid, Palm Pre, Nokia and other smartphones.

Basically a mobile version of her website ( nataliemaclean.com),it includes more than 380,000 food and wine pairings, plus wine reviews, recipes, articles, directories, glossary terms and more.

Get it by going to nataliemaclean.com/mobileappand clicking on the words iPod or iPhone under the iPhone image to go to the iTunes store. Or click on nataliemaclean.com/mobilefor BlackBerry, Droid, Nexus One, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones.

 

Jeff Houck

There are more than 30,000 applications available for the iPhone (many which are also available for BlackBerry and other phones). Of those, there are hundreds dedicated to food and beverage activities, which run the gamut from useful and practical baking and cooking apps to frivolous entertainment such as the ingloriously named "Bacon Farts."

Stock your iPhone and iTouch pantry with a few of these suggestions, most of which are free to download off iTunes. Some of these programs are available for BlackBerry, Palm and Android phones as well.

NatDecants – More than 380,000 food and drink pairings by award-winning drink writer Natalie MacLean.

 

AnnPruitt

An independent journalist, Natalie MacLean is author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over, and editor of one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com. How does Natalie market her business?

1) Natalie Knows Her Stuff: Be an Expert

Natalie has built her site into a wine-lover’s favorite.

Which wines go best with the “green food” that we’ll enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day, such as corned beef and cabbage or Irish stew? How about those fresh spring vegetables that will soon be on our plates?

“Green foods are the problem children of the wine world,” says Natalie. “But as a stubborn hedonist whose grandmother’s name was Brophy, I’ve found some terrific wines to drink with them on March 17.”

2) Natalie Knows Good Business: Reach Your Audience

How did Natalie market her successful website to her on-the-go clientele? She went mobile.
Natalie launched the new mobile application for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. Developed by Cerado, this app builds on the success of her Drinks Matcher and includes all the pairings in the original app, plus thousands of wine reviews, recipes, articles, blog posts, glossary definitions, cellar journal and winery directory. You can access the new app at www.nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp.

3) Natalie Knows Her Customers: Give Them What They Want

Knowing what her online customers liked, Natalie transferred it over to the mobile app. And, the new app is free. It’s like having a sommelier (and leprechaun) in your pocket.

The Nat Decants Free Mobile App features the following:

- Find 380,000 professionally tested food and wine pairings (not generated by computer algorithm)
- Access thousands of wine reviews by an independent journalist
- Search the reviews by winery, price, score, region, grape, vintage, food match
- Track your wines in your virtual cellar and add your own journal notes and scores
- Search a directory of 10,000+ wineries to buy wine or plan a visit
- Find thousands of tasty, tested recipes for every wine
- Get wine savvy with articles, glossary definitions & blog posts
- Share on Twitter, Facebook and e-mail with friends

In essence, what she has done is taken her entire web presence and converted it into a mobile application to meet the needs of her on-the-go clientele.

Brilliant!

 

Jim Donnelly

More and more ‘traditional’ businesses getting in on the application game

When internationally known wine writer Natalie MacLean launched her first smartphone application last June – one that paired generic types of vino with different meals – it was only the beginning of her wireless ways, she says.

That’s because the wine scribe and reviewer just launched her second mobile app, the Nat Decants Mobile Wine App for BlackBerry, iPhone and Google Android phones. It still pairs wines for eager consumers, but also pulls content from her website and adds a “virtual cellar” feature meant to store the names of favourites for next time, among other features.

“So this really goes to the next level, and maybe to the next 10 levels, because I’ve converted my whole website into an app,” she explains. Ms. MacLean says she hired California-based Cerado Inc. to develop the program.

“Because mobile is the way it’s all going – people often want wine and food info when they’re outside their home.

“(And) what this is doing is bringing traditional, older worlds like wine and real estate – which is a very person-to-person business – into a (new) era,” adds Ms. MacLean. “And these apps are proving to be very powerful for older, traditionally paper-based businesses.”

Indeed, many so-called “traditional” businesses are quickly learning the power of wireless applications. CIBC, the Canadian bank, recently launched its CIBC Mobile Banking app for iPhone. Various newspapers and media outlets have also launched wireless apps over the past several months, hoping to harness the power of pixellated mobility.

And local Royal LePage real estate agent Ian Charlebois, based out of the company’s Pretoria Avenue office, has also gotten into the mobile act with his Ottawa Real Estate offering on the iTunes App Store. It was launched in early February and allows potential buyers to flag potential buys, while at the same time tracking their location via GPS and relaying that information back to the agent.

He says a California company helped him produce the iPhone version, and that he’s working with a British firm to develop BlackBerrry and Android versions of the software.

Regardless of platform, Mr. Charlebois says his app has been a hit with clients. “(Customers) have thanked me for building it,” he says, adding the mobile app often helps speed the process of home prospecting.

“It’s about helping real people in real time,” he says.

Both Mr. Charlebois and Ms. MacLean add that by being a mobile app first-mover in their respective fields won’t only help their business now, but also in the future as they build on the success of current projects. “I don’t have any competitors in this yet, but I know they’re coming,” says Ms. MacLean.

“And in the meantime, I’ll be adding more content and more features. My other advantage is that I’ll have a year of market learning (on the competition).”

Judie Steves

Speaking of wine, have you checked out Natalie Maclean’s new wine and food app for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones? It includes thousands of wine reviews, recipes, articles, glossary terms, virtual cellar notes and other info, just like on her excellent website: www.nataliemaclean.com

There you’ll find the new app, plus lots of other great wine information, including a wine/food matcher.

 

Peggy Rowland

It’s time to get smart about wine and learn about some tasty St. Patrick’s Day wine and food combos.

To help you develop your wine savvy, Natalie from Nat Decants recently launched a new mobile app for iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones. And it’s free! To download, visit nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp. For wine dummies like me, this is quite an impressive and useful tool. Even if you know a thing or two about wine, chances are you’ll still find the new app handy.

The app, developed by Cerado, builds on the success of Nat’s online Drinks Matcher. The new app features all the pairings in the original app, along with recipes, reviews, articles, blog posts, definitions, cellar journal and winery directory.

 

Evelyne Resnick

You know a technology is successful when you start seeing it all over the place. Most of my favorite French wine and food or lifestyle magazines now have an iPhone app, making searching for a recipe or a match with a wine a lot easier.

It happened that one of the most respected and widely read wine sites, Natdecants.com, just launched a new version of its app available for Blackberry as well as iPhone, DrinksMatcher. Who doesn’t know Natalie MacLean? Just for those a little distracted, let me remind them that Natalie is an independent journalist and author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over.

Her site, NatDecants.com, is a resource for all wine and food lovers. Natalie has won four James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. At the World Food Media Awards in Australia, she was named the World’s Best Drinks Writer.

The first version of her free mobile app worked well. The new version is much enhanced. It includes 380,000 food and wine pairings and thousands of wine reviews. You can search the reviews by winery, price, score, region, grape, vintage, food match, check how many bottles of a particular wine are in local liquor stores or search a directory of 10,000+ wineries to buy wine or plan a visit.

It is always exciting to see a new technology, 100% user-centered taking off and being adopted by more and more businesses. It is so positive to see entrepreneurs, such as Natalie MacLean, ready to make the investment in a new technology and not charging the consumers for this new level of service. Thanks to all those customer-driven entrepreneurs who make the world such an exciting place to be!

 

Brands that aren't thinking about how to market to their mobile customers will quickly find themselves falling behind their competitors, says Christopher Carfi, CEO of Cerado. How quickly? Much faster than many companies realize, he tells MarketingVOX.

Like many in the industry, Carfi was astounded by Morgan Stanley's projections that the mobile internet is ramping up faster than the desktop internet did in its early days. "Think about it for a second - mobile internet usage is ramping up even faster than AOL did in early 1990s and today," he says.

Build It and They Will ComeTo prepare, the ideal strategy would be for companies to build a website and marketing campaign optimized for the mobile device alongside their online campaigns. As an example Carfi points to Natalie MacLean, who created an entire mobile application for her wine reviews and pairings content.

Cost and resource constraints, though, are a factor for many companies. Eventually brands and marketers will have enough of a knowledge base and practical experience to optimize campaigns for both channels with little additional effort. In the meanwhile, Carfi suggests four cost-effective and cost-conscious ways for companies to reach out to their mobile customers:

1. Before you even begin to think about your own website, make sure your company can be located on such sites as Google Maps, FourSquare and Gowalla.

2. Keep a close eye on review sites aimed at mobile and/or hyper local audience and encourage happy customers to post about their experiences. Also, don't limit your efforts to such well known names as Yelp or TripAdvisor - keep your eye on local sites that cover reviews in your industry and target those as well. Google has expanded the definition of what it considers a 'review' for its Places Pages, using its newly-implemented sentiment analysis to find hyperlocal blogs, local portals and news sites to use as reviews, according to Mike Blumenthal at Understanding Google Maps and Local Search.

3. Limit the use of "heavy" content - Flash or long-to-download videos - for mobile users.

4. Don’t forget about including phone numbers, email and SMS contact information in easy-to-find places on your mobile website.

 

Matthew Sullivan   

There’s something revolutionary going on in the wine world today. It reminds me of that famous quote from George Bernard Shaw — I don’t recall the words, but I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about.

In any case, let’s start with this week’s column with a question: What is wrong with the Short Cellar? “Poor writing” — well yes, but at least my editors spell-check me now. “Shallow wine knowledge” — that’s hardly fair; I’m drinking as fast as I can. “You over-use the word plush” — look, plush is a perfectly acceptable wine adjective. Lots of wine writers use plush. Piss off.

No, the main problem with the Short Cellar is that it’s not where you want it when you need it. You read my wine reviews on your computer — most likely at your desk while “working.” And what happens when you mosey from the office to the LCBO? Finding a bottle is not unlike renting a DVD; the moment you step into the store, every movie that you’ve been meaning to watch slips from your mind.

Thankfully, there isn’t a single human misery that can’t be remedied by downloading a new app onto your iPhone/Pad, Blackberry or smartphone.

Natalie MacLean (the author of the award-winning memoir au vin Red, White and Drunk All Over) has created a free application for smartphones that allows you to access a mobile version of her website, including thousands of wine reviews and a delightfully baroque wine-food matcher.

My only reservation is that the incredible convenience of this technology will make shopping for wine too rational. Experimentation, stabs-in-the-dark and expensive mistakes are all part of the fun of wine. Critical consensus can be helpful, but it can neglect the little guy or unfairly elevate mediocrity (ahem, Sandra Bullock).

 

Steve Shanahan

Apps seem to Smartphones as wine is wine glasses. I have two great apps for you to use and enjoy making the wine experience that much better. First is WineDJ – an app by American winemaker liberty School that matches wine and music. And if you are looking to pair wine and food, you absolutely need to download Natalie Maclean’s super cool and unbelievably complete Nat Decants Mobile App. How legit is this Natalie? She won James Beard awards.

Check out the the Youtube video below and download the app from www.nataliemaclean.com/mobileapp/

Nat Decants Wine App on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MUHsnQUmlA

 

A great three-minute segment on CBC featuring wine writer Natalie MacLean, who talks a bit about her approach to making a mobile experience available to the 110,000+ members of her customer community of oenophiles.  Three key takeaways:

    * Use mobile to provide access to the breadth and depth of information that's available to customers; plus,
    * Simplify the experience to make it easy to navigate; and,
    * Always ensure it's available, not just when customers are in front of their computers

As a wine journalist, it's interesting to see how Natalie is leveraging the capabilities of mobile to make it even easier for the members of her community to access the information she's providing, as well as connect with each other.

 



Imagine the following scenario: You’re in a bar/pub/wine store trying to choose a wine for your date/self/home cellar (i.e. emergency “I need a drink” stockpile) and you have no idea where to start. What do you do? Whip out your phone!

No, you’re not going to call your much more wine-knowledgeable friend at this moment (though that is always an option, you’ve no guarantee she’ll be there to answer your call). Instead, you check out your free Nat Decants mobile app. This new mobile application gels with iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid and other smartphones and builds on the success of Natalie MacLean’s Drink matcher but this newest version includes all these awesome features as well:

-       380,000 professionally tested food and wine pairings (not generated by computer algorithm)
-       Access to thousands of wine reviews by an independent journalist
-       Reviews by winery, price, score, region, grape, vintage, food match
-       Tracking of the wines in your virtual cellar with room to add your own journal notes and scores
-       A directory of 10,000+ wineries where you can buy wine (or plan a visit – Diva Destination anyone?)
-       Thousands of tasty, tested recipes for every wine
-       Articles, glossary definitions & blog posts (you’ll look sooo savvy when you learn this stuff)

Download your newest diva drinking buddy today and you’ll be sipping pretty.

 

 Whether for business or pleasure, there’s no denying that technology opens doors and Windows (just a little PC humour for you) and extends your social grasp far beyond your own circles.

Technology has also become an invaluable tool for the entertainer.  Can you plan a party without the internet?  Of course.  But why, when you can easily browse the web for unique or discounted party supplies, equipment rentals, theme inspiration and…the perfect recipe.  Facebook Fan Pages are a great resource.  I discovered this delicious St. Paddy’s concoction – The Vanilla Leprauchan, on the Carolans Fan Page.

I also recently downloaded a fabulous free (yes, FREE) mobile app called NatDecants. It includes thousands of wine and food pairings and reviews, articles, blog posts, glossary definitions, a cellar journal and winery directory.

It even allows you to check how many bottles of a particular wine are in local liquor store and to track your wines in your own virtual cellar.

My favourite feature of this app is the recipe function.  Imagine you’ve been invited to a party and are asked to bring an appetizer (if it’s my party, you don’t have to imagine because you WILL be bringing something).

You’re at the grocery store and have no idea what to make.  No problem.  Open the app to find the perfect “app!”  Click the recipe tab, select a category i.e. appetizers, snacks, breads, cheese, desserts, etc., scroll through the suggestions and choose a recipe.  All the ingredients and cooking directions are right there.  It’s like having your favourite recipe book with you while you’re shopping.  How convenient and yummy is that?
 
You can check out the NatDecants app for yourself here. Natalie MacLean is an independent journalist and author of the bestseller Red, White and Drunk All Over. 

 

Jason Whitaker

I am not usually susceptible to marketing gimmicks. In fact, the more “new and exciting” wine paraphernalia I am exposed to the more numb I grow to them. I pour through dozens of catalogs and magazines each month (pun intended) and probably drink close to 20 bottles of wine in a month. It’s all a part of the job.

The Wine Fugitive is synonymous with a lack of bull in an industry quite full of it, and to this day the only wine paraphernalia I own is a compact wine cellar, an old-fashioned corkscrew and a cooler for outings. Today, though, there’s been a new addition to the family.

You can’t write about wine in any serious fashion without acknowledging someone whom, in my opinion, might be the greatest wine writer of our time… Natalie MacLean. Aside from the common ground we share as border-line excessive drinkers and a disdain for the pretentious and elitist snobs who have ruled the wine world for oh so long, that’s where the commonalities stop.

Natalie is, and might always be, THE wine expert for the layman like you and I. She reviews more than a hundred wines  per month and, unlike some unnamed big-shot magazines, lets her tastebuds guide her reviews and not the advertising dollars wineries spend with her. In short, she writes precise, easy-to-understand wine reviews that you can trust and believe in.

That being said, let’s talk for a minute about her wine pairing application for mobile phones, Mobile Matcher.

Mobile Matcher, a downloadable application for the iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Droid, Nexus, Nokia, Palm Pre and other smartphones, combines her many years of experience and modern technology, bringing you over 380,000 wine and food pairings all in the palm of your hands. Aside from the incredibly fast and easy-to-use interface, this application carries a tremendous amount of residual appeal. I mean, seriously, what could possibly be more discreet than whipping your phone out for what appears to be nothing more than a quick text message when in fact you are looking for the absolute perfect pairing when grocery shopping, ordering at a restaurant or arguing with the clerk at the liquor store?

Mobile Matcher allows you to search a directory of over 10,000 wines by winery, price, score, and region, and also gives you access to wine terminology, delicious recipes and the ability to track your own wines in a virtual wine cellar. This app has lots more great features but for the sake of brevity, we’ll end with this:

The staggering price for all this wonderful information at your fingertips?  $0

 

Alice Reeves

If you love drinking wine at dinner parties with friends, but aren’t overly confident in your ability to match the perfect grapes to the perfect foods, then this absolute gem of an iPhone App from award-winning wine journalist Natalie MacLean may well be your saving grace.

With an incredibly user-friendly interface,  Natalie’s made this App as easy and accessible as her wine journalism. Described as “your pocket sommelier” this free App contains pretty much everything you need to be an impressive host or guest. Not just an extremely comprehensive wine pairing guide packed with very specific wine and food pairings, Nat Decants is also full of delicious recipes, reviews and articles, plus your very own ‘virtual cellar’ where you can record your wine purchases  - or those that you’ve already drunk – as well as your wine investments.

As someone who often does ridiculous things with her spare time like alphabetising her DVDs and cataloguing her book library, the virtual cellar is something which is immensely appealing to my inner obsessive compulsive. You can catalogue wines by type, name, date purchased, date consumed, year, grape, region, country, price, alcohol, tasting notes… What a wonderful procrastination tool, eh? Just what I need on a rainy pyjama day when want to do something self-indulgent and not remotely useful to anyone else. Excellent.

I’ll definitely be using this App for my next dinner party.

 

Catherine Robertson

Sometimes in the world of food, interesting and amazing things happen, and today was one of those days.  Now, I love wine, especially red but it’s something that despite loving all things food, I know virtually nothing about. I checked out Natalie MacLean’s mobile app and I must say, I am quite taken with it. I’ve spent the better portion of the evening perusing her seemingly endless wine-reviews, and already I feel a tad more enlightened on the subject!

Natalie takes the guess work out of selecting wines, by providing honest, no-nonsense advice on which ones to choose, and in an easy-to-interpret style, she notes their attributes and flavours so thoroughly. For someone like myself this is absolutely brilliant! What I love the most about Nat Decants is the “pairings” icon, which allows you to enter foods and tells you what wines they go nicely with. I find that amazing! You just never know if you can trust the opinion of the young-uns working at the local wine shoppe, but Nat knows her stuff and it’s right at your fingertips, quite literally!

Reviews are scored out of 100, and she notes the region, price, score, percentage of alcohol, sweetness and winery, as well as notes on the wines’ taste. The notes are written in such a way that they are not intimidating to a novice wine drinker, yet they are descriptive enough that you know exactly what she means without even tasting the wine yourself (yet!) Once you finish reading even just a few reviews, you’ll be hooked!

Next time I cook a fabulous meal, I’ll be using this fun application to advise me on my wine selection. It’s like having your own personal sommelier – how divine!