It's amazing what technology can do these days - especially when it comes to helping you select wine for tonight's dinner.
A new mobile application launched by James Beard Award-winning wine writer Natalie MacLean instantly delivers everything you need to know about that bottle of chardonnay or shiraz with a click of your smart-phone camera. Simply snap a photo of the barcode on the label, and the Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app pulls up the appropriate tasting notes, scores, food pairings and recipes. It's like having your own personal, digital sommelier in your pocket - a handy (and did we mention free?) tool if you're puzzling over what to purchase at the liquor store. As if the barcode-scanning function weren't impressive enough, the app can also detect the location of the store you're in via global positioning system, and can tell you how many bottles of that specific wine are in stock, and even how many bottles are in nearby locations. This function can be especially helpful if you're planning a party and want to buy multiple bottles.
"To me, wine is the perfect category or product for a mobile app," says Ms. MacLean, Ottawa-based editor of the Canadian wine resource site NatalieMacLean.com. Ms. MacLean is a four-time winner of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards and an accredited sommelier.
Considering the vast selection out there, buying wine can be overwhelming, Ms. MacLean says. Besides, "you can't taste it - at least not legally - until you open it."
Her app has the ability to deliver information about 150,000 different wines sold across the country. It can also direct you to winery websites.
Is there anything this app can't do?
"It can't open the bottle for you," Ms. MacLean says, "but that's about it."
The Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app can be downloaded for free from Apple's iTunes store for iPod or iPhone devices, App World for Blackberry devices, or from NatalieMaclean.com for other smart phones.