As a professional drinker/writer, I know my wine pretty well. Even more importantly, I know my favorite wine shop employees well and trust their suggestions. The absolute best way to discover new wines is to share your preferences with people you trust and give them feedback on their suggestions.
But not everybody is comfortable doing that, and there’s not always a helpful winemonger at hand. Sometimes you find yourself in a situation in a new wine store or at a restaurant when you wish you had some good advice before you make a purchase. Enter Hello Vino. Available for both iPhone and Android phones, Hello Vino is a free app designed to assist consumers through a step-by-step question and answer process to help discover the best wine pairings for a meal, the best wine for any occasion, a particular wine by region/varietal or a wine that favors a particular flavor profile like fruit-forward or dry.
For example, if you’re planning to grill out a steak tonight (like I happen to be), all you have to do is click on “Wine with a Food/Meal.” The app will then take you through a series of questions like “what type of food,” “what type of meat,” “what type of beef,” and finally “what cut of steak.”
When I told Hello Vino that I have two thick filets waiting in my refrigerator, the app suggested a Cabernet Sauvignon, which is aptly described as “a firm red wine with black fruit, oak and herbs is a good match.” It’s like it’s reading my mind! At this point you will receive several suggestions of specific wines, and also a few other varietals in case you want to move beyond Cabernets.
When you click on a specific wine, the app displays information and suggested pricing on that bottle so you can make an informed buying decision. You can even click through to go directly to the winery’s website when available.
There are other apps on the market that do similar things, but I’ve never seen one that is so intuitive and easy to use. The advice seems spot-on, and I really appreciate the fact that the suggestions range across many price levels. There’s even a special section devoted to matching wines with other food items like pizza and ethnic foods. This is definitely an app that I’ll be adding to my phone and using often. If you want to see a short video on how it all works, just click on the video below. Or heck, just download it and start playing around. You’ve got nothing to lose except the risk of drinking the wrong wine.