Make Your Smartphone Even Smarter!

You’re in a wine shop, scanning the shelves for a nice white to go with halibut, and nothing stands out. You think back to a wine you had at a restaurant at the beach a few months ago that would be perfect, but what was it? What was it called? All you remember is how delicious it was and that it had a turquoise stripe on the label …

Fortunately, you probably have the solution to this common, frustrating problem in your pocket or bag right this very moment. It’s your smartphone!

The simplest way to let your smartphone help you keep track of the wine you’ve tasted is to just snap a photo when you taste a wine you like, whether you’re at a restaurant, at an in-store tasting or at home. The most important thing to get is the label – make sure as much of the text on the label is readable as possible.

Then, when you’re in the shop and looking for a great Pinot Noir, show us the last one you had that you loved. We can help you find that exact wine in a split second if it’s on our shelves. If it’s not, the process of finding out if it’s available to special order for you will be that much quicker because we’ll have all the information we need, right there! We’ll also be able to use that information to help you find a wine in a similar style if you want something to drink tonight.

If you really want to get fancy, well, we live in the 21st century. There’s an app for that!

The app we’ve found the most useful is Evernote and its new feature, Evernote Food. With this app, you can simply take photos and store them in your phone’s regular gallery while you’re at an event or a restaurant, and then later go through and upload them to Evernote and add tags or notes. Any text that’s in your photos is also searchable, so if you have a great white at an in-store tasting, and all you can remember is that ‘dog’ is in the name, you’ll be able to find it again!

There are a slew of dedicated wine apps with various features. Some are free and some cost a few dollars. Here are a few for the iPhone and a few for Android phones.

We test-drove Hello Vino, a fairly popular app available in the Android Market, and to be honest, thought it was more trouble than it was worth. The label recognition feature doesn’t work very well, and the other elements that recommend wine based on what you’re eating or what style you say you like are simplistic and based on mass-market brands that aren’t very interesting.

It’s easy to see why this is necessary, since it’s a nationally marketed app and local markets vary so much, but it’s a little bland. After our phone crashed for the third time trying to upload an image of Louis Michel Chablis that the program never ended up recognizing anyway, we gave up on poor Hello Vino.

We recommend keeping it simple. Get into the habit of snapping photos of labels you want to remember, and come up with a note-taking system that works for you. The humans at a good wine shop or restaurant can do the rest much better – and won’t drain your battery!

What are your favorite methods for keeping track of wines you’ve tasted?