Dial Up Wine Apps

WineApps_0609When you're at the store in front of a wall of wine you sometimes need a lifeline. What has anyone else thought about a wine? Is the price in front of you the best price? Have you had it before, and did you like it?
     An iPhone can come in handy in this situation. Several custom wine applications ("apps") for the iPhone have been released recently. They generally cost a few dollars but, since they are competing against an Internet-enabled phone, the prices can't get too high without adding a lot of functionality. We put them through the swirl, sniff and spit test and rated them on a five-star scale that emphasizes the ability to check prices, check reviews and write a note to save or share.

WinePrices (free; **) is a sleek but minimalist app from the wine retailer Vinfolio; it offers limited price information on wines, both at auction and retail, and the opportunity to buy wines through Vinfolio. Users must create a login, but can't take notes or save wines to a "cellar." No critics' reviews are given for free, and the community tasting notes are few in number.

Wine Snob ($4; ***) is great for taking tasting notes on the fly, with integrated photos and various prompts for tasting notes. It also has a useful introductory reference tool as well as food and wine pairings, but it lacks the opinions of others and price information. Still, a good pick for newbies.

Drync Wine ($4; ****) saves wines to a "cellar" and has photo, email and Twitter integration, as well as access to various critics' opinions and links to popular community sites Snooth and CellarTracker. It lacks price comparison, but adds ability to buy via wine.com or wineaccess.com.

Cor.kz ($5; ****) draws on the 600,000 community reviews in CellarTracker. Wines can be added to your "cellar," or posted to the social networking tool Twitter, and the app offers a useful reference guide to wine terms, grapes and regions. Lacks wine price info and ability to buy.

Bonus: Evernote, a note-taking app, has text recognition in photos. It would be great to see a wine app use this technology to snap a label image and immediately transfer the label information into a database. An iPhone-toting wine geek can dream for round 2.0.

—Tyler Colman