In Part II of Paul Mabray’s review of the best wine-related iPhone application (see Part I), he reveals his Top Five recommendations — a list that includes wine apps. that yield significant value and functionality.

The best advice is to not get too frothy about any one phone and find a device that serves your needs without having to put on your Nostradamus hat.  However, if you’re a wine lover, the phone that unquestionably gives you the most bang for your buck is the iPhone.

If you’re not sure about the need for all five of Mabray’s recommendations, you can also do your own analysis by visiting each of the company web sites where additional information, product features and the overall value proposition for each application is explained.

Picking up from Part I, Mabray wraps up his recommendations by naming his Top Five and providing some direction for the wine industry at-large:

The VinTank Top Five Recommended Wine Applications for the iPhone

HelloVino

Hello Vino –   Hello Vino’s app (the upcoming new release version) is a great tool for a point of purchase (POP) decision when you are looking to match a food with a recommended wine.  With their new features integrating Twitter and Facebook, Hello Vino will help extend the recommendation value of the wine brand and price point.  I very much enjoy the applications easy to use navigation (often copied by other wine pairing apps) helping consumers choose wines at key buying locations, at the retailer or at the restaurant.  Hello Vino could benefit from additional expert matching coupled with their food algorithm (since tastes are subjective, and we tend to group in audiences).  They also could use some rating tools to let them know which pairings are working better from a consumer perspective (a “how do you rate this recommendation”).  Finally, tools that match unusual wine pairings for exploration would also be a great addition (like WineSteward, see our honorable mention).

WinePrices

Wine Prices – Historically, VinTank has been a fan of Wine Prices, an application developed by Vinfolio and powered by VinCellar.  Although this FREE app seems to only fill a small niche with wine collectors, it is a great tool for researching wines to get pricing information, ratings (professional and VinCellar), as well as locations to buy unique products.  This could be a very helpful tool for POP decision.  VinCellar could benefit from a UI upgrade and integration with its VinCellar platform, as well as surfacing its CellarTracker (its key partner) ratings and eventually enabling new marketplace features on the app.  CellarTracker is an online database for wine and serves as a cellar and wine tasting management tool. This is app is full of incredible data.

Corkz

Cor.kz – As the only platform to have access to managing your CellarTracker account, Cor.kz created one of the best cellar management tools.  It also includes strong content on its home page and throughout the tool (wine terms, etc) all fed by the CellarTracker database (the Pedia button).  It has key integrations with Facebook and Twitter as well as WineSearcher.com. Although missing a food-pairing tool, it has excellent pricing and review information to assist in POP decisions.  It would benefit from a UI upgrade.  It would also be helpful to integrate CellarTracker’s partner reviews (via VinCellar) and marketplace features for CellarTracker users.  Finally I’d like to see a portion of the tool able to function better when someone has no internet connection (features resident on the iPhone).

VelvetVineWine

Velvet Vine – Probably the most elegant UI of all our recommended applications, Velvet Vine is one of the best wine journaling tools on the market. It allows you to add great profiles and notes to be shared within its closed community, with a clean and intuitive UI throughout most of the application.  I had trouble with the notion of tasting notes vs. reviews vs. journaling for the wine as those three functions seem duplicative, and the database was a bit incomplete.  When searching for wines there quite a few missing from the database, so it would benefit from obtaining wine information from a clean data source.  However, its method for ensuring normalization of all wine information in their results is clean and elegant.  This app can definitely benefit from extending its reach beyond its closed network.

DryncWinePro

Drync – Probably the largest user base for any wine iPhone app (100K+), Drync has tremendously improved its upcoming release since our last review and added more social media capabilities while focusing on cleaning its data.  Its FREE version delivers significant value even with its advertising model, and it has an extensive amount of wine in its database (albeit less than optimally clean due to the source of the data but they are making tremendous strides to create mechanisms to clean the data). However its open search effectiveness (using abbreviations, misspellings, et al) is one of the most powerful of all the apps reviewed.  Just as many of the previous tools mentioned, Drync’s consumer reviews (including a partnership to get reviews from Gary Vaynerchuk), its professional reviews, and its deep data about prices also create another great tool for helping POP decisions.  This is especially useful with their additional recommendations from their “Featured” and mathematically generated “Most Popular” and “Top Wanted.”  As another app that could benefit greatly from food/wine pairing and UI upgrade, we also feel Drync is the best-suited app out of our top five to adopt a store locator feature.

* I able to review the upcoming version of these two apps to release in the next few weeks.

Where do we go from here?

pauliPhone apps are proliferating at an incredible rate and most have a lot of room for continual improvement.  Clean data still seems to be a key problem that is endemic across the majority of applications.  Thematically, these apps are primarily consumer focused with major categories being wine journaling/tasting notes, food and wine pairings, store locators, and wine education.  No business-to- business apps for wine exist and there are very little meaningful interaction mechanisms between wineries and consumers.

So if you’ve caught the application fever, I hope to convey that stage is set for an “Uber” application to develop.

There is great opportunity for the development of an application that takes the best parts of the few and dissolves the numerous shortcomings of the many to create a new and  truly meaningful mobile communication vehicle between wine companies and consumers. Because isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway?

About Paul Mabray

Paul Mabray is founder and Chief Strategy Office for VinTank, a digital think tank for the wine industry.

Paul has been in the wine and spirits industry for over sixteen years. He founded Inertia Beverage Group in 2003 as one of the first technology providers created to bridge the barrier between wineries and their customers. Mabray was CEO from 2003 until 2008 creating the largest e-commerce platform for the wine industry, the Rethink Engine.  For his last six months at Inertia, Paul was Chief Strategy Officer and EVP of Business Development in charge of creating key strategic direction, business development, and mergers and acquisitions. VinTank is a continuation of his desire to help revolutionize the wine industry through e-business and innovative digital products and marketing.

For more information visit http://www.vintank.com.

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  • http://www.drync.com Brad

    Fantastic report Paul, Palate Press, and Vintank Team. Thanks for the hard work and diligence that went into this.

    Expect good things from us (Drync Wine) in the next few weeks!

    -brad

  • http://www.hellovino.com Hello Vino

    Thank you, Paul & the Vintank team, for such a comprehensive and valuable Pulse report. We (the Hello Vino team) are extremely excited to be included in your top 5, and we sincerely appreciate the consideration. Also, thanks to PalatePress.com for publishing the reports.

    The assessments are right on target, and we’ve already taken steps to improve on areas of our app such as database cleanliness and wine reviews – in fact, we are now displaying wine results, ratings, and reviews from Wine.com in the “Search” section of our free app.

    Much more to come! Thanks again for the positive rating of our app in your Pulse report.

    – The Hello Vino Team

  • http://girlwithaglass.com Alana Gentry

    For me, Part 1 of your article was especially helpful because it gave me an overview of who is doing what. It’s still a lot to shift through but at least you’ve given me a starting point. I just want an app that interfaces with my Mac where I can keep my own notes and wines and pairings. I’ve used an obscure but perfect (for me) German app for years. http://www.wine-software.net/mac-wine-software.shtml

  • http://www.BacchusWineOnline.com Dan C.

    Very informative. I have been reviewing several apps for my wine staff to utilize on the sales floor.

    Their iphone/itouch is a great resourse & with an app like DRYNC for example it’s a nice “clean” way of tracking their own database of wine & notes.

    Thank you Palate Press & Vintank.

    dc

  • http://wineonlinesolutions.com tom merle

    True that a high percentage of such apps have been developed for the iphone. But many of us have other models with other carriers. It would prove useful to have VT/PM identify apps, even if less robust, that can be used by smartphones developed by LG, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, etc. which will be more dominant over the coming months, particularly as Android invades. Also, it would be good to have the logos be hot linked.

  • http://www.velvetvine.com Velvet Vine

    Thank you Paul and the entire VinTank team. A special thank you to Palate Press for publishing this fantastic report. We are thrilled to be part of such a dynamic and creative group of pioneers! We congratulate all of our peers for creating great apps and helping to educate the consumer. Hope we can all get together and have a glass soon!

    Cheers all!

    – Velvet Vine Team

  • Todd Havens

    With Hello Vino and Drync Wine already integral to my iPhone app universe, I feel somewhat validated by VinTank’s Top 5 selects above. Great reviews, Paul.

    Now to sniff out those other three apps! :)

  • http://xxdesmusxx.net xxdesmus

    Big fan of Wine Ph.D

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  • tinytim

    hmmm -this post has many words and not much real analysis. At least the new FTC rule will force authors of articles like these to disclose their connections to the products discussed.

  • Michael Q. Adams

    Hi Paul, Very interesting project. Found many apps that I did not know about. Here is a suggestion for the next project: Solicit a wish list for the “Killer Wine App” that has not yet been created. Most of the apps that you review are focused on wine reviews and food/wine pairing as well as personal catalogs.

    It would be interesting to see other categories of wine information included in future apps, for example, here are just a few:
    * Wine Tourism: (maps of wine regions, ability to create and share suggested itineraries, drive times, audio/video narratives along the route, click on winery, restaurant, or accommodation icons to make reservations, etc, etc.)

    * Individual Winery Informtion: (maps, history, video clips from winemaker, GPS coordinates, reviews, hours of opening, release schedules, event schedules, retail outlets, current weather, technical notes, etc, etc,).

    * Wine Information: (Bar code scanner which automatically provides related wine details, prices, reviews, ratings, avaiability, outlets, winery links, etc. – not just the “take a photo of the bar code and then scan the photo technique).

    * Wine Market Intelligence: (data about wine consumption, sales, demographics, consumer segmentation and trends, by various geographies and time frames)

    * Others???

    Keep up the good work,
    Regards, Michael Adams

  • http://womenwine.com Julie Brosterman

    Paul – outstanding summary and it’s great to see such big advancements in such a small time frame. We’re looking for companies to partner with that want original content to pair with their apps so if you think it’s appropriate we’d appreciate the intro.

    Best,
    Julie
    http://womenwine.com

  • http://www.vintank.com Paul Mabray

    First – wow, thanks everyone for the great feedback. We had a ton of fun digging into this and using the factors above to analyze and determine the best of the best iPhone wine apps.

    Michael Adams – great idea – I think we’ll post on Twitter/FB over the upcoming weeks to get suggestions for what people want in an iPhone app.

    TinyTim – I’m pleased to let you know that come Dec. 1 there will be no revelation of “endorsement,” “advertising message” nor “sponsorship,” as VinTank currently has no financial relationships with any producer of the iPhone applications listed in the report. As a side note we work with many companies that work with the top five as well as many of the ones that received poor ratings (the wine tech industry is too small not to have any proxy intersections). If you were to visit our website http://www.vintank.com/ , you would see that we are a “digital think tank” for the wine industry, with a specific focus on what occurs at the intersection of wine and technology. Having an understanding of this should make it difficult for anyone to assume our intention as anything but research on behalf of the wine industry and digital movement as a whole and power our strategies.

    Again to be clear, and possibly disappoint, we are not currently affiliated with any of these companies nor do we receive any “success” payments if this exposure leads to their growth.

    And to educate you on the FTC issue to which you inaccurately allude, my article states that every application reviewed in this report was purchased by me. Therefore, as I quote from the FTC, it “cannot be deemed to be providing an endorsement.”

    Now back to the fun stuff if you are reading this post – what are YOU looking for in the idea iPhone wine app?

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  • Brett

    Thanks for the great write up. I saw this new one the other day called Wine Ratings Guide by Nirvino:

    http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=329109731&mt=8

    Was this part of your analysis?

    I’m wondering how it stacks up. I’m an iPhone owner looking to buy a wine app, but I’m a little overwhelmed by the number of available options.

  • http://www.wineonlinesolutions.com tom merle

    I too wonder why Nirvino was not included in your report. They were one of the first to develop an iphone app, have a huge if not the biggest user base most of whom submit reviews a la Yelp, and offer almost a million wine reviews. Plus they do wine bars, other beverages, etc. All for free. How did they get missed (or am I missing something, which is not unlikely)?

    TOM

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  • http://www.vintank.com Paul Mabray

    Nirvino was rated but in the flurry of trying to finish the article, we missed placing the icon on the diagram. Nirvino, despite being a featured app by Apple, only got a 2 out of 5 in the first part of our article.

  • http://www.deangeliswines.com Jerry

    Have you seen the Wine Pd.D. app for the I-Phone If so, what do you think. Full disclosure: we were a featured winery on the site. However, I am not sure if it has legs, is effective, or is worth continuing.Jerry

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  • http://www.vintank.com Paul Mabray

    Jerry,
    Wine Ph.D. only got 2 out of 5 stars (in Part 1 of this story). It has, however, been featured by Apple in the App Store. We would very much like to hear your feedback on the results of being featured but it lacks much of the innovation and strength of our top 5 chosen apps.

    We look forward to hearing your results from Wine Ph.D. and hope you enjoyed our articles.

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  • http://www.appstodo.com/winestodo Mike

    Nice writeup. When you’re ready to do another review take a look at WinesToDo. It’s a great app for the casual wine drinker to rate, log and share their wine experiences with friends. You can even email a wine record with pics of both the front and back labels to a friend and they can import it right into their copy of WinesToDo. You can post your latest wine story directly to your facebook wall from within the app too.

  • Ben

    Usefull wine app list indeed!
    There is one missing though when it comes to tasting notes (besides, it is a free app) : Taste A Wine for iPhone.
    I have tried over 7 different tasting note apps (including paying ones) and it is by far the best. It really conveys the feeling that is was made by wine tasters for wine tasters.
    I can only advise you to try it for yourself by downloading it here http://itunes.apple.com/en/app/taste-a-wine/id380631725?mt=8

  • John Delfsos

    I found that there is a very good iPhone app – Wine Experts Rating.
    It provides the experts(Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, ST, CG,etc) ratings for many wines like Bordeaux, Rhone, Burgundy, Italy, Germany, Spain for each of the vintage.

    Here is the app website:
    http://wineexpertsrating.home-hk.com/

    I think you guys should try!

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