Back when the iPhone App Store launched last July I did a search for wine applications. At the time there were just a handful of choices, most of them for taking notes which I wrote up as a first look post. A search today turns up about 30 wine apps with an array of choices for wine loving iPhone and iPod Touch users to take on the road.
One of these is the Wine Enthusiast Guide from Mobile Age who provided the app for me to review. It sells in the iTunes App Store for $4.99, at the high end of the wine apps available there. Like last year, I do not have an iPhone, but since my kids each have an iPod Touch I was able to install and spend about an hour checking out this application. I have some experience using earlier versions of the Wine Enthusiast Guide as developed for Palm OS by LandWare and will do some comparisons between the versions in my review.
When you first startup the iPhone version you are taken right to the wine guide. The database is licensed from Wine Enthusiast magazine and seems to be fairly up-to-date with over 65,000 total reviews (25,000 of which are less than 5 years old). Users can search on winery name to find producers making this screen handy in a wine store or restaurant. Like the Palm version, I found the “search” function to be the most useful, entering price, rating, style, varietal and appellation to find matching wines from the database. One of the issues with such a large database is that search results often return wines no longer available in the marketplace. So it would be nice to have a date range option here similar to how this problem is dealt with on online wine review databases. Once you have found a wine, you can view the Wine Enthusiast review and add this wine to your personal “wish list” for purchase later.
Other features include a handy wine vintage chart and a reference guide complete with wine terms and a “wine 101″ section. Missing from the iPhone version is the wine notes and cellar management functions that were in the Palm version. This was a feature I used most when I had a Palm Treo and wish was a part of the feature set here. I understand there is only so much screen real estate available on the iPhone but these missing features would be a nod to more advanced wine lovers and would make this a complete package worth the asking price. Perhaps they are working on a follow-up notes and cellar management application.
Overall I found the Wine Enthusiast Guide for iPhone to be a handy tool for mainline wine consumers to use as a reference on the go. I would not recommend this app for more advanced users as they don’t have the tasting notes or cellar management features that would be of interest to this audience. But if you are looking for a mobile wine review tool on your iPhone and don’t subscribe to Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator online editions, the Wine Enthusiast Guide is a solid choice.
Disclosure: Mobile Age provided a review copy for me to try.