What do Barnes & Noble and a wine store have in common? They’re both places where I want to try everything I see. The potential thrill of opening a new book and experiencing a journey full of emotion isn’t so different from uncorking a bottle of wine and meandering through the notes of a given varietal. Both places, however, leave me in a bit of a conundrum: I’ve got a thousand choices when I generally only need to walk out with a couple of items.

For books, I’ve come to trust things like Goodreads. For wine, I’ve come across this novel little mobile application called Vivino. Like all technology, it’s got its bugs and user experience challenges, but it offers those seeking to expand their wine-drinking horizons something of an informed opinion off which to make their choices. Here’s our review…(nope, they’re not paying us to say this!)

How it Works

Search by Label

Try typing “viognier” while walking through a store, carrying a basket and perusing wine. It’s not hard, but it’s inconvenient, and wine buying should be a relaxing experience—a rich hunt with a richer reward. Vivino lets you take a snapshot of the label, and automatically searches it’s ever-growing database for the wine at hand.  It returns a profile of the wine with the average price, it’s ranking by a number of factors, wine maker’s notes and some other fun facts for those who like some history.

Varietal Notes and Pairings

Anyone searching for a new vino is most interested in what it’s general qualities are. The label can give you a limited—and sometimes exaggerated—description of the wine and where it comes from, but a good review is worth far more to the consumer. After populating the search result from your label search, Vivino gives you some general notes about the varietal of wine you’ve chosen, as well as the growing region and some dishes you can serve it up with.

 User Reviews

The overall wine rating on Vivino is an average of the individual user ratings. Using a standard star scale, users can give a rating and provide their comments. This added level of qualitative insight helps a consumer decide if the low rating was more about personal preference, or if they’re just looking at a less-than-stellar choice. Featured users (the one’s more likely to know their stuff) rise to the top of the review list, increasing reliability.

Vivino gets even more fun when you provide reviews of the wines your exploring, engaging in a social conversation with fellow enthusiasts.

Where It Could Tighten Up                

Accuracy

Out of five labels I tried scanning when using Vivino, four came back with the proper result, and one was incorrect. Not too bad, but when convenience is a selling point, and when one result is returned rather than a list, you’ve got to give the user what they’re looking for. In the latter case, I was forced to manually search, which is as good as Google in my book. To be fair, using optical recognition to search a robust database is a challenge, and for a free app, its performance was good.

 Stale Content

Content marketing has revolutionized the way we consume information. With digital delivery, we can create spaces that only feed us information we want. To be sure, there are some creative topics on the Vivino newsfeed, but it can feel like canned content. For someone serious about wine, the posting cycle of “funny article,” “value wine list,” “follow this guy,” “random topic,” will get old rather quickly. With all the resources, data and insights, Vivino has the capability to produce some really great original content for its audience, and I’d like to seem them offer up this differentiator in future versions.

All-in-all, this app is worth adding to your shopping, or even dining app category on your phone. It’s user-friendly, informative and relatively easy for the tech-fearing person to use.  

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