A Guide to the Best Wine Apps

So, you like wine but you don’t know where to discover, review, buy or research said wine(s)… So, what do you do? 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, be it 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
  • *Worthy mention*

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’. The community is strong here and there seems to be the freedom to explore the types of interactions you wish to have with other users. A result of the community aspect is the exposure to a greater pool of types of wines (#WineDiversity) and the facilitation of learning. A useful feature of this platform is the wine inventory management tool – which functions as a digital wine inventory manager and allows the self-management of the records of your wine collection.

The app is very accessible: to hold an account is free (for a standard account) and can be downloaded from the Apple and Google App Stores free. Additionally, they offer a valuation service for pro accounts only; however, before its use it’d be best to read this resource for a review of their valuation service. On the useful commercial features – there is no buying or selling inextricably involved with this platform other than links to Wine-Searcher and recommended sellers. In some respects, the removal of commerce allows for greater focus on discussing wine in its purest sense, although some may see this as an inconvenience for those that want to engage in buying & selling.

Wine-Searcher

This is a humongous wine app with a listing 8.6 million wines and that has a more commercial configuration – it is mainly set-up to foster the buying and selling of wine and to do so on a international scale. This database is quite comprehensive in that they provide information on pricing, sellers, wines, critics’ ratings, users’ wine ratings, stock availability, images of bottle and label designs, while filtering search functionality is available but its most useful form is only accessible for pro accounts. Not only that but the wine app is quite visually pleasing and the discovery of wine is relatively seamless though not without limiting rigidity. A 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. 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 geared more 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 user [non-member] as are some of its features.

Vivino 

Vivino is another wine app that is a bit of a hybrid of both the aforementioned 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, what has emerged is a greater reliance on communities of individuals rather than  individual critics. Extra features that deserve appreciation include Wishlists (a feature that allows the creation of lists of desired wines), wine identification through image recognition of labels, and Vivino’s ‘Cellar’ tool, which is a digital record manager of one’s wine inventory.

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 when Vivino has the item(s) in stock, as you stay within the Vivino app environment, however, when the stock is unavailable there is a rerouting to a 3rd party website to purchase – which just adds extra admin. 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 is discernible new-age yet feels less free-forming & more rigid in comparison to Cellar Tracker’s community. Lastly, recommendation engines/algorithms are really cool and all but it can sometimes become less satisfying as opposed to when known beings recommend wines to you. Vivino seem to have not found the right balance between the two yet.

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 records inventory 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, plus a community system that seems to be held up in rigidity.

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 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 and there is no 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 the idea behind this app is to create greater comfort amongst these aisles. It has recommendations (through the app’s algorithms), filtering search functionality, 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.

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 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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