Most wine enthusiasts say there's so much to learn, they can never know it all. Well, with new wine apps launching every week, I'm not so sure that's true anymore. Here are five extremely handy (and free) wine apps.
You're at a party or restaurant enjoying a dynamite bottle of wine you don't want to forget. Snap a photo of the label, and up comes everything you need to know, including a list of retailers in your neighborhood who stock it, and a place to record your impressions. You can even share notes with Facebook friends. Vivino recognizes more than 1 million wines and has more than 3 million users worldwide. The latest upgrade offers instant push notifications when others like a wine and the average rating and price for each wine. Free for iPhones and Androids.
Stuck in the wine aisle with hundreds of bottles and no idea what to grab? Plug in the occasion (Easter brunch) or dish (pepperoni pizza) , and Hello Vino will give you an instant recommendation. It's like having a personal sommelier tag along without having to hear the oak lecture. Recent upgrades include a wine label scanner and photo backup on the cloud so you can access your wines anytime on the iPhone, Android, iPad and at www.hellovino.com. Free.
This one-stop app (from a San Francisco startup) helps you discover, remember, share and buy highly rated wines with simple label photo recognition and a vibrant community that includes Facebook friends as well as wine industry professionals. See what sommeliers at Michelin-starred restaurants and James Beard Award-winning wine writers are drinking and get their ratings on thousands of wines. Search by varietal or region, and build your own cellar. Free for iPhone, Android.
This is like Delectable -- but without the massive social network and with a smaller inventory than, say, Vivino. Drync uses the same image recognition technology to scan and decode the bottle you're enjoying at dinner or a friend's house, or that you spot in a magazine. It provides similar analysis, but it also prompts you to buy immediately. It says it has the largest selection of wines for sale, along with competitive prices and low shipping costs to most states. It even offers concierge service for out-of-stock wines. If you like flash shopping apps like Zulily, you'll dig Drync. Free for iPhone, Android.
Looking for journalistic savvy and brilliant photography packaged by region? We have to offer a plug for ourselves. The Bay Area News Group's newest addition to the wine mix is pretty sensational. The free Winery Road iPad app uncovers California's buzziest wine regions -- from Monterey's Santa Lucia Highlands to Livermore, with reviews on hot new hotels and restaurants plus winemaker interviews, interactive maps, recommended wine trails and itineraries curated by movers and shakers in the industry. Download the new Eat Drink Play app for iPads, Android tablets and Kindles to read the most comprehensive guide to the Bay Bridge Wineries (the 50 wineries from Oakland to Treasure Island and San Francisco) and the upcoming guide to the Central Coast and Paso Robles wineries. Free. iTunes, Google Play, Kindle.