A sommelier in your pocket

While it’s an industry in its infancy, wine apps are growing in popularity

A sommelier in your pocket

Photograph by Jenna Marie Wakani

Last year, VinTank, a “digital think tank for the wine industry” based in Napa, Calif., released a report that reviewed 75 wine-related iPhone apps. Last month, VinTank did a redux of the report—this time the number of apps on the market had soared to 452.

A small industry has sprung up around smartphone apps for wine. Some better than others, says Paul Mabray, VinTank’s chief strategy officer, who notes, “there’s a ton of trash out there.” Mabray suggests the best wine apps are the ones with a specific function and a simple interface. Some of his favourites include:, a bar-code scanning app that pulls up info on 750,000 wines, and Nat Decants, described as a “personal sommelier in your pocket,” run by noted Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean. (It also has a label scanner for wines sold in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.)

The wine app industry is still in its infancy. “There is a tendency for the application to be myopically focused on the oenophile,” says Mabray. He predicts wine apps will soon be more like Instagram or Foodspotting—visual apps where you can post pictures and trade notes with friends. “I’m looking forward to following what wines my friends are talking about,” says Mabray. “More like Facebook, or Twitter.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.