I've written about wine apps -- mobile programs for your smartphone -- in past columns, but it's been a couple of years, and the landscape has changed significantly. Some previous apps I've recommended or written about have come and gone, while others have morphed as technology has changed.
But there are a couple of wine apps -- Delectable and Vivino, specifically -- that I've yet to write about. They're similar, free apps for wine lovers. So which should you pick?
As drinks-related apps go, Untappd, a beer app, is still king. It works in a similar way to mobile check-in app Foursquare: You "check in" to a beer, take a photo of the beer (optional), and are occasionally awarded badges if, say, you are a fan of a beers from a certain country, or brewery, or which are made in a certain style.
Both wine apps Delectable and Vivino operate in a similar fashion, although in some ways are slightly better. Neither, for instance, requires a user to manually type in a wine in the way Untappd does; rather, Delectable and Vivino can detect a wine label based on a photo of the label taken by the user, and pull in pertinent info automatically.
Accessibility-wise, Delectable is only available for the iPhone, while Vivino is available for the iOS, Android and Windows devices via its website (vivino.com/app). Still, Delectable has been around for longer and has more users. Let's call it a draw.
Both apps require little setup time, and can be linked to both Facebook and Twitter for finding friends using the app as well as for cross-platform posting. Once you have a username and basic profile set up, you import your fellow app-using friends and you're good to go.
Once you're enjoying a bottle of wine, you snap a photo of the label. The app scans the image, detects which wine you're sipping, and pulls in information about the wine. Users can choose to rate the wine as well as decide whether to cross-post to other social media. Delectable offers both user ratings as well as pro ratings from wine writers, while Vivino offers suggested food pairings as well as virtual badge-type rewards like Foursquare and Untappd, if you're into that kind of thing. Vivino also has a "virtual cellar" which is only available for paid members. Slight advantage Vivino.
Testing out both the Tussock Jumper and Elias Mora wines reviewed this week proved instructive on where both apps come up short.
Delectable correctly identified the Elias Mora, although it took a couple of minutes for it to detect the vintage. It thought the Tussock Jumper, however, was a merlot (which it corrected automatically a few minutes later).
Vivino, meanwhile, nailed the Elias Mora, but pegged the Tussock Jumper as a 2011 Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc -- right winery (they make wines all over) but wrong country, wrong vintage, and wrong-coloured wine. Even after I manually corrected the info, the link Vivino auto-posted to Twitter included the Sauvignon Blanc info (and never even made it to my Facebook page). Advantage Delectable.
Both apps have other drawbacks. Delectable has a "Check price" feature that doesn't work in Canada (in the U.S., you can use it to order wine online through the app). Vivino has a "Nearby places" feature that purports to point users toward places to buy wine, although not necessarily wines you post. It pegged my local 7-Eleven, Safeway and Wendy's among spots I could go to buy wine. Also, strangely, Vivino doesn't show your wines on your user profile page unless you assign them a rating (ie. if you don't choose a star rating nobody can see the wines you've tried).
Again, advantage Delectable -- for the win (and the wine).
De Martino 2013 Gallardia del Itata Cinsault Rosé
(Secano Interior, Chile -- $14.05, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Made from the red Cinsault grape, this rosé is pale pink in colour, with delicate strawberry and raspberry notes as well as hints of peach and floral aromas too. It's a dry, light-bodied rosé, bringing plenty of mineral and cherry skin notes to go with the leaner red berry flavours. Lean and elegant, it's a food-friendly pink wine -- try with smoked salmon, hors d'oeuvres, or fresh salads. 4/5 stars
Tussock Jumper 2012 Touriga Nacional Aragonez
(Alentejano, Portugal -- around $15, private wine stores)
A blend of Touriga Nacional and Aragonez (both indigenous Portuguese grapes), the Tussock Jumper brings up-front cherry and chocolate notes fleshed out by slightly gamey, earthy aromas that deliver Old World charm. It's a medium-bodied, juicy red that certainly leans New World in its jamminess (and animal-laden label), yet there's light, dry tannin and black tea/white pepper notes that prevent it from becoming a jammy fruit bomb. 3/5
Elias Mora 2009 Tinto
(Toro, Spain -- $16.98, Liquor Marts and beyond)
Raspberry, blackberry, leather, herbal and light vanilla notes come through on the nose of this Tinta de Toro (better known as Tempranillo). It's a full-bodied red, with some definite oaky character (via six months in new barrels) that's balanced by blackberry, spice, leather, plum and tart cherry flavours. The concentration and light tannin give this wine three to five years in the cellar if needed -- or just drink it now. 4/5