I love wine. Or I should say, I love some wine. I’m one of those folks who stands in front of the huge display of wine at Costco or the grocery store or the liquor store staring and staring until I find a bottle with a pretty label in my pricepoint. And then I buy it. If there’s a description of the wine, that makes me more likely to buy it. Since I love trying new things though, buying wines tends to be hit or miss. The new Thumbs Up WinderFinder app aims to change that, however.
The app is available for both Android and iOS and comes in a free version and a $4.99 premium version. The free version lets you search wins in a store and browse for wines when you aren’t. Best of all, when you find something you like, you can save it as a favorite and not have to hope you remember what the bottle looked like or where you found it next time.
The search functionality is great. I can narrow down my wine buying by the store that I’m in, the occasion, the food I’m eating, the type of wine I want to buy, pricepoint, country of origin, and more. You can either browse through what your store is likely to have or do a quick search for a wine by region, winery, and more.
Once you’ve found a wine you’re interested in, the page includes all sorts of helpful information from its rating (anywhere from 2 thumbs down to 2 thumbs up), flavor intensity, tasting notes, suggested food pairings, value, and average retail price. I love the value versus price because it allows me to find wines that taste better than where they’re priced.
There is also a summary of the wine, as well as a video (for most wines) of the review, and a space for you to both rate it yourself and add it to your wines, which allows you to find it again. And if you were with friends and wanted to remind them of the great wine you shared? That’s easy, too. Simply click on the share button, and you can share it with friends on Facebook, Twitter, via email, or by texting it to them.
Two other nice pluses? There is a “where to buy” feature that lets you know where the wine is available. My Moscato D’Asti, for example, is available just at Trader Joe’s. Of course, this explains the $7 wine and $16 value. You can bet that I’ll be buying it again, and I’ve already added it to my wines. There is also a way to tap the photo of the wine bottle which will blow it up to the size of your screen to make it easier to find that particular bottle of wine. Anything that makes it easier for me to get what I need, I’m all in favor of.
I can also write my own notes about the wine by tapping the little icon of a notepad. I can write down anything I want from where I drank it to what I thought of it specifically to whether I thought it was a good value, or where I found it at a particularly good price.
There are very few things I’d like to see changed in the Thumbs Up WineFinder. For one, it doesn’t have a barcode scanner. I’d love to find a pretty bottle of wine and scan it in for reviews and the like to show up. That way, I’d know if it’s a bottle of wine I want to buy or not (and go watch some of the videos of the wines not to buy – they’re hilarious). The same goes for wine I might enjoy at a friend’s house. While in both instances I can search for it, I’d love the ease of simply scanning the barcode and finding the wine so I can add it to my favorites or decide if I’m going to buy it.
When I’m searching, I can only choose one option at a time. If I know I want to buy wine but am driving past a Costco, a Trader Joe’s, a Dominick’s, and a Jewel, I’d like to search options available at all of them, knowing I can easily stop at any of those stores (and where is my Binny’s by the way?). Instead, I have to choose just one store and would have to go through the whole process each time to see my option at each store. The same holds true of the type of wine I choose (red, white, sparkling, or rose/pink). If I’m open to a white or a sparkling to bring to a party, I wish I could search both at the same time. I’m also limited by the type of food to just one option, but interestingly, I can choose multiple price points, multiple varietals within my red/white selection, and multiple flavors I’m looking for. I’d like that flexibility throughout the search.
There is a free version of the app that has the vast majority of the functionality that the paid app does. In searching, the free app doesn’t allow you to select the flavor notes you are looking for – which is huge for me, as I like things that are fruity but not buttery, mineral but not oaky. It would be very easy to get a “good” wine that just isn’t to my taste – or to have to filter through all the wines one by one once I get my results to find ones that match my flavor profile. So far as I can tell, that appears to be the only difference between the free app and the $4.99 app, but knowing I’m not wasting my money is worth $4.99 to me. And the options for flavor profiles seem endless, including many I’ve never even considered, but it’s making me more conscious of the wine I’m drinking!
Lucky for me, I got sent a bottle of Villa Alena Moscato d’Asti to try, as it is one of the two thumbs up wines. According to the app, my wine should be a medium flavor intensity with notes of apple, honey, and peach.
Although this is a lightly sparkling white, it’s suggested pairings include salad, dessert, and ethnic food. While pizza isn’t exactly ethnic, I found that it went nicely with my homemade pizza. The saltiness of the fresh buffalo mozzarella and fresh Parmesan I added to my pizza were a nice complement.
I could definitely taste the apple and the peach, though honey I missed. I knew from the description that it would be a sweeter wine, so I wasn’t surprised (although, hello, Moscato). Because the app let me know that it would have a clean finish, I went ahead and ate it with my dinner, knowing – or expecting – that I wouldn’t have a cloying taste in my mouth afterwards. And yes, the app was right. This is a wine it easily might have recommended for me, and I would have been pleased to pay $7 for the bottle. In fact, I will probably head to Trader Joe’s (where it’s sold) and do so soon.