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Mobile Wine Apps

September 10, 2009

Choosing Wisely by Consulting the Sommelier in Your Pocket

By Bob Tedeshi

Excerpted from the New York Times

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. Some of the refined entries in the current vintage include Cor.kz ($4), Wine Enthusiast Guide ($5), Nat Decants Food & Wine Matcher ($3) and Pair It! ($3). They’re fairly good now, and they 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, and includes much of the information available on her Web site, Nat Decants (at NatalieMaclean.com).

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.

I was initially surprised that, of the services I tested, none suggested the best wine to pair with a specific occasion — like, say, reaching the end of school vacation. But maybe that would be silly; the best choice for that, clearly, is the first bottle you can get your hands on.

Reprinted with permission. Please ask permission before copying or using this material. Comments? Suggestions? If you'd like to receive Natalie's free e-wine newsletter, sign up at www.nataliemaclean.com. It's free, and your e-mail address will be kept confidential.



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