The selection of wines available on the market has grown enormously in the past decade and so too have the easy and affordable tools to navigate the new options.
Despite being a wine writer and consultant, I can never consistently remember, and recite, all the best vintages in my 20 favorite growing regions of the world.
So it's the iPhone to the rescue. There are a half-dozen great applications out there, primarily for iPhones and Android phones, that can make you feel like an expert.
Getting basic information on a wine you like, or might want to buy, is essential. Vintage charts and critics' ratings have long been available, but the kind of wine information, and how it is provided, is expanding dramatically these days. These new applications can help you remember what you drank, keep track of your own scores, and tell you where the wine is available and what it should cost.
Vivino and Delectable are two of the best programs for researching, buying and accessing the basics about wines. Take a picture of a label of wine you are about, or would like, to drink and Vivino provides background videos and information such as ratings, area of origin and ideal pairings. You can also rank your opinion of the wine. It also provides recipes and wine tips.
Delectable has a similar functionality, where you can follow other members, create a wish list and share insights on wine. Snooth features its own ratings and a convenient tool to help you locate wine in your geographic area. It also has a guide by flavor descriptors, such as dry and floral, which unfortunately tends to skew too specific or way too all encompassing.
The cleverly named Raisinable helps you sort out how much wines are marked up in retail and restaurant settings — amounts that often are much more than you would imagine. Then it helps you locate wines on a list that are more advantageously priced.
I also adore the amusingly titled Plonk, which is aimed at entry-level drinkers. It has a comprehensive list of grape varieties and helps you pronounce the names of grapes (albeit in a British accent). It also offers extensive and on-the-mark food pairings.
Best of all is that most of these apps, which are free or just a few dollars, are likely to help you save time and money at the wine shop and restaurant. They also help you flesh out and develop your own preferences to buy bottles that suit your palate.
Liza B. Zimmerman is the principal of the Liza the Wine Chick, a writing and consulting business. She has been writing, educating and consulting about wine, cocktails and food for two decades. She has also worked almost every angle of the wine and food business: from server and consultant to positions in distribution, education and sales.