A Guide to the Best Wine Apps

So, you like wine but you’re stumbled as to where to discover, review, buy or research said wine(s)… So, where do you go? Are there any ways to do the aforementioned tasks quickly and conveniently while also having access to a plethora of wines? Yes is the answer. Several useful wine apps could relieve this predicament.

Depending on what you’re looking to do (discover, buy, review and/or research) you would be best served by the following [web and mobile] wine apps, wherein they all have comprehensive listings of wines combined with a multitude of features:

  • Cellar Tracker
  • Wine-Searcher
  • Vivino
  • Delectable
  • Liv-Ex

Cellar Tracker

Cellar Tracker possesses a wine database comprising 2.1 million wines! It’s a platform, wherein, the value of the site is determined by the number of users and their engagement with the platform and its community. Here, users have free-reign to list and review wines they have tasted, interact with other users regarding ‘all things wine’ as well as manage the wines that they own, digitally. This platform is great for being a part of a community and talking all things wine. A consequence of the community aspect is the exposure to a greater pool of types wines (#WineDiversity) and facilitates learning. An assistive feature of this platform is the cellar management tool – which functions as a digital wine inventory manager and allows the self-management of your wine collection.

The app is very accessible: to hold an account is free (financially – for a standard account) and can be the downloaded from the Apple and Google App Stores for free. Additionally, they offer a valuation service (though this is a feature of a pro account); however, it’d be best to read this resource for a comprehensive assessment of their valuation service. On the useful commercial features – there is no buying or selling involved with this platform, which in some respects does allow greater focus on discussing wine in its purest sense, though it can slightly inconvenience members that do in fact want to engage in buy & selling.

Wine-Searcher 

This is a humongous wine app (listing 8.6 million wines!) that has a more commercial configuration – it is mainly set-up to foster the buying and selling of wine and do so on a global scale. This database is quite comprehensive in that they provide pricing information, seller information, wine information, wine critic information, user wine rating information, supply information (availability), images of bottle and label design, while also providing filtering functionality [though is a Pro Account feature]. Not only that but, the wine app is quite visually pleasing and the discovery of wine is relatively seamless. One cool relatively recent feature is the ability to search nearby wine sellers, geographically, for specific wines or types of wines at specified prices.

This platform caters to all wines price-wise, from expensive fine wines to the more affordable wines; and sellers are usually, overall, easily accessible for an enquiry. A deficiency that becomes noticeable through usage is the lack of community and lack of input, clout and/or representation individual buyers have throughout the platform. To utilise Wine-Searcher to its full potential a Pro account is required which would cost you $60/year as a minimum – and with diplomacy aside, without the Pro account, the usefulness of the platform is significantly lesser so. Buying wine from Wine Searcher is not exactly as seamless a process as buying a book from Amazon, as you have to query stock purchase enquiries directly with the merchant. Needless to say, the application is more geared towards commerce and can thus feel too commercial: with business-to-business interactions seeming to be the audience being targeted. Still, the platform is an accessible application and several features are available to the more casual, non-member as are some of its features.

Vivino 

Vivino is another wine app that is a bit of a hybrid of both the wine apps: Cellar Tracker and Wine-Searcher, in that it combines the more commercial aspect of wine (i.e., buying) with the community aspect. Vivino has a large listing of wines (breadth!) with the Vivino community being the reviewer of the wines rather than well-known critics – which has altered the dynamic of the industry: resultantly, a greater reliance on communities of individuals rather than top-down atomised individual critics has emerged. Extra features that deserve appreciation include Wishlists (a feature that allows the creation of lists of desired wines), wine identification through image label recognition, and Vivino’s ‘Cellar’ tool, which is a digital wine inventory manager.

However, where Vivino falls short is in the depth of coverage (rather than breadth): for example, finding pricing, stock availability and review information on all vintages; case sizes and bottle sizes of particular wines is difficult. Breadth, therefore, hinges on there being enough engaged & active users to relay information to the platform and its users – which does not as of yet happen. Conversely, purchasing wines is [almost] frictionless through this platform as there is no rerouting you to a 3rd party website to purchase/query – you stay within the Vivino environment. The listings of available stock are not as comprehensive enough as say Wine-Searcher, purchasing various bottle and case sizes is not consistently possible, and the community has a very discernible alternate feeling/tinge to it – a lesser one relative to Cellar Tracker’s community. Lastly, algorithms are really cool and efficient systems, but sometimes they induce a less tantalising/satisfying feeling rather than being recommended wines by your comrades – which is the feeling I sometimes endure during using Vivino.

Delectable

Want good content, the ability to build networks and bridge the [communication] gap between producers, community critics and buyers? Then this is your app! The exposure to various wines is exceptional, the ability to connect to other social networks is handy and the freedom to review whatever you want, be it wine or other alcoholic beverages, is liberating. Like both Cellar Tracker and Vivino, Wishlist and wine cellar management features are packaged up in this app. Similarly, label recognition/identification is neat feature that is attached. Buying stock within the app is again seamless and stays within the ecosystem.

The app although encapsulating with its Instagram-like configuration starts to seem rather impotent as a social wine app because groups cannot be created from within the app and categories that you desire to follow and receive feed about aren’t creatable and/or customisable (e.g., if you wanted to see feed specifically regarding French, White, Loire Valley wines, you couldn’t create a category to reflect this) and the standard categories are too broad. Further, the app seems to be ever so slightly producer-heavy and more geared towards the N. American market/audience. On the topic of wine listing, the same problem encountered with Vivino is felt here too: over-reliance on the app’s community to provide a large proportion of the wine information.

NB: this is the only wine app without a web app too.

Liv-Ex

These guys & girls are worth a mention because they created an industry-wide common identification key system. In what is called an LWIN, Liv-Ex created a repertoire of 7-digit codes that enable the identification of specific wines – and if one lengthens the digits, greater identification can occur (vintage, bottle size, case size, etc.). They have coverage of over 67,600 wines (excluding vintages). More information can be found about LWINs here. Additionally, Liv-Ex provides pricing information for each wine and each of its vintages, where humanly (or technologically!) possible. Similarly to Vivino & Cellar Tracker, a wine management tool is available [for paying customers] albeit is a more sophisticated tool that treats your wine collection more as an investable through the provision of  pricing & financial analysis. However, Liv-Ex’s platform does not have an interactive peer-to-peer community and has a transactional configuration. This is clearly, because they focus, as a business model, on business-to-business (B2B) transactions [sales] therefore it is less accessible to the individual on a casual basis than the aforementioned applications and to gain access will set you back by £150/month minimum. Regardless, Liv-Ex offers state-of-the-art market information, sound pricing information and a platform to buy & sell (i.e., trade).

NB: It is useful to mention that this is a web application rather than a mobile wine app.

Worthy Mention:

Wotwine

This app is fantastic…Conceptually! The logic behind the app is that supermarkets do in indeed have decent wine collections at affordable prices; ones that are physically and/or readily accessible/available, and so the app attempts to facilitate a search function for specific wines, wine types, prices, provenance in specified large supermarkets (your Tesco, Aldi, et al.). A feeling of impotence amongst excessive choice dispirits most when yomping the valley-like aisles of supermarkets and so idea behind this app is to create greater comfort amongst these aisles. It has recommendations (by the app’s algorithms), filtering search functionality (to really nail the type of wine you desire), other users’ reviews and a barcode scanner to supply immediate research on the wine.

In practice, the app is not as effective as it could be and the app, although easy to use, is not aesthetically pleasing. The style of the app discourages user engagement & community and it does not facilitate e-commerce (buying). Personally, the concept behind the app is admirable but the execution/delivery is off-mark. However, it does still have its place and functions as a useful tool should your shopping habits be more geared towards supermarkets (most are! Sold?).

 

Final thoughts

There is no one single wine app to rule them all: each app has a time and a place, and some have more use to certain individual (or business) needs. If you’re conducting market research or you’re an entity (individual or business) with the cash to warrant the monthly fee, and wish to consistently trade wine then Liv-Ex is your point of call. If you want to focus on buying wine for consumption – affordably and readily, I would look to Vivino and Wine-Searcher and give Wotwine a try. Want to learn about, talk and research people’s opinions on wine, your best bet is Cellar Tracker, Vivino and maybe Delectable. That’s the crux of it really. Though there are obviously more features that each one offers, each’s resounding unique business offer to users is geared around the recommendations just stated.

To top off all of the above into something more succinct and digestible – I would say the wine apps that have are the most useful, in respect to interacting with other wine lovers, buying wine, researching wine, reviewing wine, pricing wine, and etc. … (*drum roll*) … In order of the best wine apps:

  1. Wine-Searcher
  2. Cellar Tracker
  3. Vivino
  4. Delectable
  5. Liv-Ex
  6. Wotwine

However, my bias has naturally crept in and so… Download these apps or visit their website and give them a try for yourself. They’re free to download or visit (where available)!

You can download the wine apps 1-3, and 5 from the following mobile store platforms:

The Author

Burhaan Quinn

Burhaan Quinn

Burhaan joined JF Tobias in August 2016 and is our Data & Systems Analyst – with his professional interests being big data and information systems. Prior to his current role, Burhaan filled several positions in Investment Banks, working in analytical capacities within regulatory environments. Graduating from Economics in 2014, Burhaan holds interests in philosophy, sociology and political economy. Besides work and academia, Burhaan enjoys sport, predominantly amateur boxing, rock climbing and swimming.

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