6 Apps to Help You Live the Good Life
10:00 am, July 11th | by J.D. Biersdorfer, LearnVest
With so many types and styles to choose from, finding great wine, cheese and chocolate can be tricky for a novice—but expert help is now right in your pocket or purse.
Whether you’re standing nervously in front of the cheese counter two hours prior to a party or thumbing through a multipage wine list at that fancy restaurant, your smartphone can guide the way to a smoother selection process thanks to these six apps that focus on the finer things in life.
If the sheer amount of wine out there sends you into sensory overload before the tasting even begins, the free Wine Secretary app for Android can ease your anxiety with thousands of ratings and reviews at your fingertips. You can search for specific wines or browse new ones—and a wine-focused dictionary teaches you the lingo. And once you find a pour that you want to remember, you can add your own tasting notes and label photos.
The free Hello Vino app for Android and iOS offers wine recommendations for meal pairings, gift-giving and other special events (think holiday parties and barbecues), or by preference for red, white or rosé. And when you find wines that you like, you can save them to your favorites. While the basic recommendations are free, you can also purchase in-app upgrades for additional reviews or to add scanning—just snap a picture of a label, and the app can pull up corresponding info for that wine. Prices start at 99 cents for 20 label scans; $4.99 for unlimited snaps.
Created by Bruce Riezenman, a chef and pairing expert who hails from California’s Sonoma County, this app for Android and iOS holds 20,000 suggestions for matching up 1,000 different dishes and desserts with about 180 wine varietals.
Pair It! ($4.99) is flexible enough to let you choose a dish (say, grilled halibut with mango-mustard butter) and then offers up a selection of pairing suggestions for whites and rosé wines. You can also reverse course and select a wine from the list—and then see the dishes (recipes are often included), desserts or cheeses that harmonize with it. Don’t feel like making a decision? Tap the Swirl button and shake the phone to see a random food-and-wine pairing.
This $2 app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch is both a database and a diary designed for dedicated students of the cheese arts. Hundreds of international cheeses are listed, and you can search for a particular style by name, country of origin, type of milk used—and even texture.
Each Fromage entry displays a picture of the cheese with basic info (for example, Milk: Goat. Texture: Soft pâte), and a quick tap on the icon in the top right corner reveals its full history and a detailed taste description. You can add personal notes and ratings to each cheese, as well as your own entries for new discoveries. The app also offers wine pairing suggestions for most listed cheeses, and it does not require an internet connection—which can come in handy when you’re looking up options while vacationing in Provence.
When a mass-market candy bar from the drugstore just won’t fix that craving, this free app from Chocomap.com uses your phone’s GPS chip to point you in the direction of the nearest chocolate shop within its 2,500 locale database.Find Chocolate! (available for Android or iOS) is still something of a work in progress and misses a few notable retailers, like the Godiva Chocolatier shops in Manhattan, but it does highlight lesser-known outlets, such as Max Brenner’s chocolate-themed restaurants. As you discover new chocolate sources in your travels, you can add them to the map within the app.
An extra app treat: iPhone owners still having cocoa cravings can also try the $3 Chocoholic Traveler app for iOS, which is a guide to chocolate-themed festivals, specialty shops and even chocolate-infused luxury spa treatments.
This app for Android and iOS mixes and matches pairings from three categories—wine, food and cheese—through its colorful, easy-to-use interface. To get started with iPairings (99 cents), just tap one of the category icons at the bottom of the home screen and select an item from the list. The next screen presents suggestions intended to complement your selection, whether it be food, wine or cheese.
The app covers about 130 different types of wine, and although the descriptions don’t go into great detail, they can be useful for quick reference—like telling the difference between a Navarra and a Nero d’Avola. The pairing guides can be a bit generalized for intermediate and advanced connoisseurs, but they’re perfect for newbies looking for a fast and simple crib sheet to match up a suitable sip with Cornish game hens or Cheshire cheese.
More from LearnVest: