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Christmas Gift Guide

3 free apps to help you pick the perfect wine

To complete your romantic Valentine's Day dinner, you need to find the perfect wine. These three free apps can help.

Matt Elliott/CNET

I know nothing about wine other than reds give me an unfairly severe hangover if I drink more than two glasses of it. Thus, I tend to shy away from wine except for holiday dinners and special occasions. For Valentine's Day, particularly one that allows me to recuperate on a Sunday, I will look for a good bottle of red for my wife and I to drink with dinner.

Since I don't buy wine with regularity, I am quickly overwhelmed by the selection of wines at my local wine store or by any wine list at a restaurant. Armed with a wine app however, I have become a more confident wine buyer.

Vivino Wine Scanner

I will never walk into a wine store without this app. There are a number of apps that let you scan a wine label to get information about the wine, but I found the Vivino Wine Scanner app provides the most useful information.

After you take a photo of a label, it gives you an average rating and price so you know if you are holding a good wine and a good price. You can also scan the text of a wine list should you find yourself clueless in a restaurant. In addition to rating and price, Vivino provides notes about the type of grape used in the wine, info about the winery which made the wine and a variety of additional rankings that rank the wine within its winery, region, country and world. You can read reviews from other Vivino users and add your own, but what I find fun and interesting are the winemaker's notes (as in, "notes of toffee, cherry, fig, chocolate"), vintage comparison (how it stacks up to other years), and food pairing suggestions (beef, lamb, spicy food).

Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET

The wines you scan are saved to a My Wines list and will eventually build a taste profile for you. You can also build a feed, where you can follow friends who use the app as well as wine enthusiasts and pros. The app also lists nearby places that sell wine, showing you how many different wines are offered at each store and restaurant. Lastly, there is a Top Lists section that features lists such as "Best wines under $20 right now" and "Five wines from the world's smallest wine country."

Vivino Wine Scanner is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Wine Spectator WineRatings+

If I ever begin to amass a wine cellar's worth of wine, the WineRatings+ app from Wine Spectator magazine will prove useful. As it stands right now, it offers useful how-to articles and videos along with interesting vintage charts. These two items are free, along with a news feed of wine-related news articles. If you sign up for the monthly subscription ($2.99, £2.29, AU$3.79), you'll also get Wine Spectator's ratings and reviews.

Of the free content, I like perusing the vintage charts to see if the bottle I'm considering buying is from a good year for that particular region and grape. Since I'm a wine novice, I found a number of the how-to articles and videos to be illuminating, particularly those on how to pair wine and food.

Wine Spectator WineRatings+ is available for iOS and Android.


Delectable provides the same ability to scan wine labels as Vivino, and while it provides far less information than Vivino about the wines you scan, it does something Vivino can't. With Delectable you can buy wines for delivery through the app, whereas Vivino only shows you places nearby that sell wine. Wine delivery is certainly convenient, and it appears as though orders of four or more bottles ship for free.

Delectable saves your scans and lets you add a comment and rating along with useful info like where you enjoyed a certain wine and with whom. You can share your wine thoughts via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and you can also recommend wines to a friend via text. Also like Vivino, Delectable lets you build a feed of friends, winemakers, sommeliers and critics.

Delectable is available for iOS and Android.