New WineGlass App Aims to Make Wine Drinking a Lot Less Complicated

In Depth

A new iPhone app aims to help inexpert drinkers understand everything they need to know to avoid the potential pitfalls of purchasing everyone’s favorite fermented grape juice.

Anyone who’s ever had to look at a wine menu in a fancy restaurant knows that they’re specifically designed to be as incomprehensibly impenetrable as possible. The reason for that is simple: many wine snobs don’t want simple plebeians to be able to understand their obsession — they’d much rather lord their knowledge to feel superior about themselves. I served wine in fancy restaurants for years, and if I had to listen to one more customer drone on about made-up sounding wine descriptions (“essence of cantilever,” “hints of necrotized plum,” “shades of amuse bouche,” “an airy, almost calligraphic flavor,” “a miasma of inadequate conjugation”*), I might’ve strangled them with their own turtleneck. Obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone who loves wine, but there are a lot of people who care more about what their love of wine says about them and others than the enjoyability of the actual drinking experience.

Now, thanks to WineGlass, the veil is being lifted. Designed by former Facebook engineer Roddy Lindsay and costing $5, WineGlass works by scanning any wine menu. Optical recognition software picks out the names of each wine and matches them against a database of reviews, providing not just a star rating out of five, but more specific information such as pairing advice, review quotes, and typical pricing (making it much easier to tell whether a restaurant is trying to rip you off).

As someone whose level of wine expertise prior to working in fancy restaurants was basically “I WANT THE PINK SPARKLY ONE,” I’m all in favor of this app, and I hope they bring it to droid phones soon.

* I could spend all night making these up. Feel free to join in.

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