Overwhelmed by vast wine lists at trendy restaurants? Contemplating what dish to serve with that bottle you've been saving?
Time to power up a smart phone.
Wine applications, or apps, as they are better known, have flooded the market, and choices abound, depending on which attributes suit your fancy.
"They give wine lovers a complete dinner solution at their fingertips," says Natalie MacLean, editor of Nat Decants, one of the largest wine sites on the Web (nataliemaclean.com). "Start with a pairing, get a couple of tasty wine recommendations and a recipe, and you're all set for the evening."
Novice wine drinkers may be satisfied with the free apps, which generally provide just the basics. Aficionados may be compelled to climb to the next level to have access to advanced features, which may include:
• Vintage chart: This is a helpful tool if a restaurant runs out of a particular vintage and offers a substitute.
• A diary component: This option allows the user to add personal notes a la an old-fashioned journal can be handy.
• Bar code scanner: Glitches are not uncommon with this technology. Its cool factor may be offset by an occasional inability to scan or recognize the wine being scanned.
Swirl (Android): For the novice drinker. Gives descriptions of varietals, sample pairings. Has a catalog of 100,000 wines, including price and rating. Data provided by Snooth. Unique "under $20" section.
, Wine by the Bar (iPhone, Android): Scan the bar code of a wine bottle and the app will store it for future reference.
, Wine Snob (iPhone): Track and rate favorite wines, search for wines based on user inputs, back up and store data.
, Wine Pad 2 (iPhone): Similar to a traditional wine journal. No recommendations, no pairings. User inputs personal data on vintage, clarity, aroma, taste, price and winery.
, DrinkFit (iPhone): The app for those counting calories. Provides nutritional information for wine varietals as well as juices and cocktails.
, R-Vintage Lookup (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry): Strictly for checking on a wine's rating, including "Drink, Hold or Declining" by vintage.