Expand your wine collection, expand your mind

By Megan Soll
July 23, 2020
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Like any good millennial, I’m an excellent casual wine drinker, but I’m always looking to expand my wine vocabulary. I understand that great rosés come from the south of France, Pinot Noir flourishes in Oregon, and Sauv Blanc seemingly runs in streams through New Zealand. I know from the expertise of our own Ray Isle that there are exceptions to every wine convention, and a $15 bottle can be just as delightful as $50 or $100 splurge depending on the place and pairing. As a type-A person always trying to perform due diligence when spending money, how can I truly know I will enjoy a wine I’m purchasing?

Credit: Getty Images/Franziska & Tom Werner

Vivino, a massive online marketplace and wine-rating app, solves my wine quandaries on a weekly basis. When it comes to buying wine, especially for delivery in the age of quarantine, I love to try new things but never quite know where to start. Vivino has a bank of millions of bottles with average pricing, previous vintages, ratings, flavor profiles, and rankings among some of the best wines in the world.

The smartest feature of the Vivino app is the label scanner, which with a simple photo of a bottle can bring up all the information you need about the wine. If you’re trying to make a snap decision in a bottle shop or supermarket, you can find out if the bottle you’re holding is a good deal, or if it has the type of smoothness or dryness you’re looking for in a wine. I scan every bottle I try at home and record my own rating and tasting notes. The app uses those bottles in my profile to suggest new styles I should try, as well as bottles I’ll probably like (within my price range).

If you’re planning a meal for the weekend, you can choose from wines that pair with pasta or peruse categories like “fantastic French reds” or “great value whites.” With 315 distinct styles, the app will show you how many you’ve tried, and you can sort wines by everything from grape type to pairings. Even for wine connoisseurs, the app has a bounty of data and recommendations.

If you love a little organization and plenty of information, Vivino is a great resource for exploring new wines while waiting out the pandemic at home. There’s certainly a gamification aspect that motivates me to want to try them all, but the biggest benefit is learning more about the world and the beverages I can share and enjoy. I’ve ordered a set of Chilean wines to try next--styles I haven’t yet ventured into. It’s the second-best alternative to exploring a place in person, getting a sense of terroir, and pairing it with matching cuisine. For a little joy and variety during a pandemic, we’ll cheers to that.