Maclean’s has a new wine app out, and it’s all about Wine in Canada. Maclean’s Wine, brought to you by Rogers – they of cell phone fame who own Maclean’s, they of words-on-pages fame – explores all things about wine in Canada, including the people and the places that matter, tasting notes galore, and insider tips about where to go and what to do when you’re looking to get in on the wine action north of the 49th.
Made with the screen real estate of the iPad in mind, It’s first and foremost an ebook, but a glorious and ever=changing one at that. The imagery is gorgeous and the information, well, informative. These are early days for this fresh-fased addition to the wine scene, so I’m looking forward to seeing timely updates that will prevent this e-tome from being relegated to the category of out-of-date wine guides. More development towards interactivity and community would also be welcome, though this isn’t clearly the primary mandate of this app.
What’s more, the app is available not only in Canada but also the United States from the iTunes App Store.
Blackberry released its new Blackberry 10 operating system today, along with two new phones – the iPhoneish Z10 and the more traditionally Blackberry-style, keyboard-laden Q10. In the release, Blackberry announced that there are over 70,000 apps immediately available. So this got me wondering how many wine apps are there? So we did some digging, and here’s what we found (and most of them are not your usual suspects).
Mobifusion has been busy for this release, and among their apps are a couple noteworthy wine apps, Instant Wine Expert, with a $5.99 price tag and which is by the sound of it is a 1WineDude-esque “tool for working out what’s what in the world of wine, without pretentiousness or pomp”, and Top Wines of the World, a “companion guide for wines from Australia, California, France, Spain, Italy, Chile, Argentina, and [elsewhere around the world]. Both these apps sound bookish, but that is the case with many wine knowledge apps across platforms.
Cytrus has put out a crowdsourcing type wine app called Top12Wines that you can download here.
The new version of the Vivino Wine Scanner (also familiar on iOS and available in the iTunes App Store) released today to be compatible with OS10, allows users to take a photo of any wine, and the app will automatically match it against an online wine database of more than 500,000 wines.
Wine Secretary looks to be a new app on the Blackberry platform, made specifically for the OS10 release. With it, you can guide your wine purchases using ratings, prices, and reviews from an archive of 1 million+ wines.
So where are apps from the Wine Spectator, Snooth, Nat Decants and others that are staples in iOS? Let’s hope they join the BB10 party soon!
We’ll keep updating as we find out about more wine apps, so keep checking back…
In this week’s app review, I’m taking a closer look at Pocket Wine, an app that, in the words of the developer, “unlocks the complex world of wine” and “enables you to easily navigate, explore and gain a clear understanding of all the major grape varieties and blends”. Pocket Wine’s main features are a wine Style guide, a listing of Grape varieties, a Food section that allows you to find a suitable wine match for whatever you’re looking at making for din-din, and My Taste (a taste profile feature that’s seriously fun).
The design is warm and inviting. The text pops out well, and the icons are distinguishable and memorable, so they’re doing their job. The navigation is traditionally iOS’sy and as such intuitive for anyone familiar with the platform.
The Style feature is a great access point into finding wines that suit my style (or what I think is my style – more on this below), and going into reading about a wine variety that I find interesting opens up so much information about everything from the variety’s origins, regions where it can be found, potential food pairings, and even a place to put my notes. The one thing that could open it up even more is a link from a proposed food pairing back to that food’s page in the Food section, so that maybe if I don’t like, say, Pinot Grigio with that fish, I can go to the fish’s Goof section page and find other potential wine matches.
The Grapes feature is a more direct link to what I just talked about above, and its inclusion on the menu is a great choice on the part of the developer as its an oft-needed reference not only for beginners but for more seasoned wine lovers wanting to venture into that more unfamiliar territory manned by the Arintos and Assyrtikos of the vine world.
My Taste, a feature that allows you to create a taste profile, is interesting and fun especially when comparing with friends while sharing a bottle and a few laughs. But more than that, it’s truthful. It doesn’t give you a Facebook game-like result of “You are a Cab Man!” but instead sliding-scale results for how you could potentially like multiple wine styles. And you know what? It was pretty spot on with my tastes – I do like smooth reds even if I’ve got a thing for powerhouse Cabs on occasion. What this feature may be missing is a direct link out of My Taste to a wine style. When I saw 80% compatibility to Smooth, I tapped on “Smooth” but nothing happened. Having said that, it’s not a long jaunt back to the Style view, but in this world of multiple access points, that direct access is something that would be a nice-to-have feature.
Pocket Wine is designed for both the iPad and iPhone, which – although almost being a must for most apps these days – is convenient as I like to have this kind of information with me on the go on my iPhone, but when settling down for some lengthier reading on grape varieties or that food-wine match for this Saturday’s dinner, the iPad is easier on the eyes.
All in all, this is a great wine app for both newbies and as a reference tool for veteran wine geeks, and definitely a step up from the various competing free apps that are out there. It’s available on the US App Store at Pocket Wine – USA and on the Canadian App Store at Pocket Wine – Canada.
With all the new books that have come out in 2012, I wanted to take a look down memory lane and remind us all of the books of Christmases past. This is a trio of wine books that are about the stories than they are about facts, numbers, and data. They are books that will make you fall a little bit more in love with wine, and that’s important. You’ll always have time to learn about the next new wine region or that grape you just can’t pronounce, but snuggling up by the fire over the holidays calls for a good story.
At the top of the list is Kermit Lynch’s Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer’s Tour of France. This “recounting of his experiences on the wine route and in the wine cellars of France through the Loire, Bordeaux, the Languedoc, Provence, Northern and Southern Rhone, and the Cote d’Or” is inspiring and returns my faith in vino-sapiens (as Cuvee Corner’s Bill Eye calls use). This is a delightful read that I can go back to year after year, and perfect for any wine lover.
Reflections of a Wine Merchant rounds out this trio. In it, Neal Rosenthal (the wine merchant the title suggests) tells stories about his travels through the cellars, vineyards, and homes of French vignerons. Though it lacks the emotional resonance of Lynch’s book, I found it thoroughly pulled me in.
These books have brought boat loads of joy and cheer to dreary commutes and quiet days in between the sips and swirls that mark our wine lives, and I hope you will enjoy them too. Wishing you all happy holidays!
A dude by the name of Mark Brooks brought this cool video to my attention. With all of us de-stressing after the culmination of the 2012 US election, this is a perfect a dose of elaxed wine fun as any. Enjoy!
Who is Don Cornwell? Trawling the Twittersphere brings no results about the man, but search for the culprits Don Cornwell is striving to out – the Rudy Kurniawans of the world – and you’ll find many a tweet. It’s much the same elsewhere on the Inter webs. The net is chock full of the dastardly deeds of wine fraudster millionaires and the auction houses that (perhaps unwittingly, though at times surely turning a blind eye) sell the wine to unwitting buyers with deep pockets. However, very little is said about the people working against this ongoing and seemingly ever-expanding fraud. People like Don Cornwell. It’s a downright chore just to find a decent picture of the man who has outed fraudulent auction lots, and on more than one occasion, has been to court about wine.
Having grown up in Denver, Colorado and graduating from University of Virginia’s law school, he is an attorney based in Los Angeles, and quite a respected one at that (he has a peer rating of 5/5.0 on Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings). To the wine world, though, he is known as a crackerjack wine sleuth, knee-deep in the world of counterfeit wine. So persistent that he has been called “a total bull dog”. A Burgundy-expert with over 30 years experience and possessing a true lawyer’s tenacity, he dilligently researches suspicious wine lots, and posts his findings on the non-descript, yet world’s fastest growing, Wine Berserkers wine forum where he and other oenophiles discuss wine counterfeiting in a discussion over 120 pages deep as of this writing.
What’s surprising, at least to me as a collector of sports cards for over 30 years, is how poorly the bottles are counterfeited. I’ve personally run into a counterfeit Wayne Gretzky rookie card or two in my time, masterfully done except for a couple tell-tale signs. But with these wines, the sales of which are in the millions of dollars, such basic errors as simple spelling mistakes are commonplace. Other equally common red flags are the condition of capsules when compared with the condition of the label on that very same bottle, the wrong number of digits on bottle numbers, and missing accents on wine names. I mean, who is doing this? Simpletons? Are the rich wine drinkers - and even worse, the wine auction houses – so daft that it’s this easy to pull the wool over their eyes. Or is the money involved so precious to some and so insignificant to others that they don’t care?
What distances Cornwell’s work from most of our daily wine lives is that the wines Cornwell deals with are at such ridiculous prices that most of us wine lovers will never swim in those shark-infested waters. Consequently, all this drama just makes for nothing more than intriguing story or a conversation with your fellow wine drinkers at the office water cooler.
But what is happening, and what oenophiles like him are railing against, is smearing something we as wine lovers hold so dear – a sense of purity that is wine. Astonished by it and disgusted by it, he did something about it. And when he was ignored, he did even more. And he let us all know about it. He helped the FBI bring down one of the most notorious wine counterfeiters in America. With the help of New York-based lawyer Don Barzelay and other oenophiles, Cornwell was able to bring down Rudy Kurniawan, the most notorious wine counterfeiter of the last few years if not decades.
Even if counterfeiting continues, a bulk of it having moved to China in recent years, And even though Cornwell says of the results that “it’s a start”, and laments that so many of Kurniawan’s fake bottles still remain at large, Don Barzelay says “There is now reasonable skepticism out there.” Don Cornwell’s work made the wine world perk up. And for that, we have to know him. For that, the Colorado kid is a hero uncorked.
With one chapter of the adventure over, Cornwell and his posse at Wine Berserkers are unihindered by geogrphical boundaries and continue to seek out potentially fraudulent wine lots at auctions across the globe. Let us wait and see what is the next breakthrough, and let’s let that counterfeiter in China fidget nervously, knowing that there is someone out there looking for him.
Big news this week about Disney buying up Lucasfilm and with it the Star Wars franchise. You might know that George is in the wine game with his Skywalker Vineyards, but as we wait for Star Wars on Ice and a slew of new Disneyfied Jedi flicks to hit the theaters over the next Millennia or three, I ponder what wine would a Jedi drink?
One’s Force-sensitive mind can first turn only to the the Jedi High Council. When these academic space knights ponder the balance of good and evil in the universe in their ancient kick-ass wisdom, wine must the best thinking man’s companion. Hidden deep under their palace must be wine cellars built during the glory days of the old Republic, stocked row upon row with liquid more elevated than some high-yield, Australian plonk or, even more unlikely, yet another clone varietal approved by the mess of an Imperial Senate. I mean, can you picture Sam L Jackson downing a Two Buck Chuck before dispensing with yet more of Palpatine’s droid lackeys?
But of them, Yoda, the gnarliest of them all, would surely go for something even more old world. Perhaps an old vines red that personifies a terroir of suffering and rigor, from a long-forgotten stone-rimmed clos, of vines that have railed quietly against the vile elements and poxes of phylloxera and its ilk. A Mourvedre from Bandol or Chile’s forgotten Old Vine Cariganane.
With the skywalking Luke himself most likely going Romney on us (though if you find him in a bar at some grimy spaceport, he’d assure you he’s drinking a Sardinian Cannonau, because to a young swashbuckling whose adrenalin is laced with too many midi-chlorians, Cannoanau sounds like a cool thing to drink) and Darth Maul surely preferring over the top fruit-bombed oak monsters of country clubbing Cali cab cults, a wine geek can only turn to Darth Vader for a finer palate. If our first true Sith love were ever to touch down on our fair little planet without going all Alderaan on us, I’d dare to think he’s a Bordeaux man, willing to wait out the years and trilogies and coax out the best from a tight, young Pomerol that with time he would uncork on us as a mean, aged menace of a Merlot.
With the Siths accounted for, I think, we turn our eyes to the greybeard who got the ball rolling so many years ago – Obi-Wan. Luke only knew Ben Kenobi as a recluse hermit before galavanting to the Death Star with him on the old coot’s journey to suicidal elevation. And what would a lonely old hermit (with unnaturally neatly cropped beard, mind you) sip on as he waits for his death duel? Pondering your destiny at the wrong end of a Sith lord’s laser sword calls for nothing other than the distraction of a complex Viognier white wine from Condrieu, that windswept godliness of steep hillsides in France’s Rhone valley.
Oh wait… oh dear… I’m feeling that all too familiar tingle of the beginnings of a force choke hold (or is that my peanut allergy acting up? Damn you, Halloween candy). The Emperor – that wily rascal – mind-blocked me. But as my wife knows, I can’t resist the lure of the dark side and all the swill it has to offer, and the Emperor can’t keep my prying eyes from his stash. And if Vader’s drinking a Petrus worth a couple grand, the Emperor won’t be outdone and has had his minions scanning star systems far and wide for starship wrecks to enjoy outrageously priced Chateau Lafites of bygone centuries. And trust me, if it’s gone all vinegar on him, he’s so puckered up already, you won’t know it. Be warned, though, that if you’re stuck in a room with Palpatine, he’s gonna draw comparisons between the eventual domination of the wine world by Lafite and its mighty Bordeaux ilk and his own eventual domination of the galaxy. In this case, walk away. Just walk away.
And so we have come to the end of our journey to a galaxy of wine long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. May the force be with you and your sipping habits, and remember, when shopping for that Thanksgiving wine for dinner at the in-laws and you’re in the store by the animal logo wines, it’s good to remember that fateful line from the assault of the first Death Star, “Stay on target, stay on target” and head for something more, shall we say, Force-sensitive. If not, well, she might have this in mind…
Eric Asimov’s new book How To Love Wine: A Memoir and Manifesto is garnering accolades from all corners of wine geekdom. And it is all very deserved. In his book, Asimov discusses his own personal experience with wines, and how the pleasure of wine came for him before knowledge. So with that in mind, it won’t come as a surprise that he advocates that performance anxiety shouldn’t be the issue it has become for so many would-be wine lovers. He also takes on the entrenched use wine flowery tasting notes and wine scores, and it should be said that it is in fact quite sad to see everyone on wine-searcher chirping in with a number without thought, to begin with, even for the very basic consideration of what food the wine would best pair with. At Wineshout weve never been about numbering wines and have trouble understanding the logic behind the number, though it’s understandable why scoring has found its place.
Though for the most part, BBC’s Top Gear is all about Aston Martins, Lamborghinis and a lust for Jaguars of all stripes, the lads have to buckle down once in a while to review a car that is more… “down to earth”, as one might say. And that’s sort of what we’re doing today with a review of the Lot 18 app for iOS.
Lot 18 is visually and functionally like most other sales tool apps – no fancy navigation, no folds or hiding menus to maximize screen space, nothing to titilate the app geek. It’s a meat and potatoes app. But it works. It does it’s job well.
Functionally, Lot 18 fully-loaded. Each wine comes with reviews, descriptions, potential pairings, more about the winery. What’s also great is that after you select your state, the app filters to display wine available to your state. No messing about and finding out during Checkout that you can’t buy the wine you’ve already begun drooling over.
Sharing is standard as it should be, you can view your past orders (we didn’t place any orders so we’re not sure how easy it is to re-order something you’ve once bought, which is an important feature), and you can send invites to friends to use Lot 18 and get some wine-buying credit in the process.
Where it gets a bit dodgy is the list types. You can select to view all list types, or just staff picks, featured items, etc. on its own. But on that list is Select and Mobile, and there is no explanation as to what these are. Go to the FAQ page of the app and it only deals with the buying process, not at all with site features. It’s beginning to feel like a car with no instruction manual, which is fine if everything is self-evident but it’s not.
Something I also experienced is that when I lost the network, tried to update the product list, when the phone refound the network, the app had a terrible time bringing up results no matter which list I selected. This may be a bug, and I’d be interested in knowing if other Lot 18 users are experiencing a similar loss of functionality related to jumping in and out of a network and losing connection mid-browse or mid-purchase.
So, Lot 18 may prod you into a bit of Sherlock Holmes detective work. and it may not handle connection issues with the grace of Barishnikov. But all in all it is a solid app that offers quality content (i.e., good wine for a good value). With a clean design, rich feature set, and content with a solid QPR, Lot 18 is a good choice for the wine lover on the go.
It’s the 21st century and even the powers that be hanging on to prohibition era liquor laws in BC are realizing this little gem of an idea that it might be good to change with the times. But they have been poked and prodded to do so for a long time now. Just google or search Twitter for freemygrapes about all that.
Among some recent changes, people in the province of British Columbia can at long last bring a bottle of wine to a restaurant. The guessing game is now on how restaurants will react, i.e., what price point corkage fees will be set at. There will surely be those restaurants who will set it high enough to make a point of saying ‘don’t byob’ just as some restaurants hike the price of kids’ meals past ten dollars to say ‘leave the tikes at home’. But there’s also news of establishments who are keeping it low, and even having exemptions on certain nights, etc. But all in all, it’s a step forward in a country where wine laws are traditional archaic and monopolies reign supreme in certain corners of the kingdom.
For more details on the change in law, hop on over to this article in the Vancouver Sun.
Now if they would just budge on some ridiculous winemaking laws and allow for some more ingenuity on that front. But more on that rant later