New app to help confused wine drinkers

TORONTO Mon May 16, 2011 12:34pm EDT

The Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings mobile phone app is pictured in this undated publicity photo. REUTERS/Handout

The Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings mobile phone app is pictured in this undated publicity photo.

Credit: Reuters/Handout

TORONTO (Reuters Life!) - A new mobile application allows less-savvy wine consumers to scan bottle bar codes to get instant tasting notes, scores and food pairings.

The free app, called Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings, works by snapping a picture of any bottle label's bar code to access a database of 150,000 wines at liquor stores across the United States and Canada.

"I know I would have a tough time choosing wines if I weren't tasting them all the time," award-winning Canadian wine writer Natalie MacLean, who launched the app, told Reuters from her home in Ottawa.

"The choice is overwhelming, the confusion is great and intimidation factor is huge, so that's the consumer problem I'm trying to solve with this app."

The app is the first of its kind that actually scans bar codes to search wines, instead of having to type in various descriptors, said MacLean.

A certified sommelier and author of "Red, White and Drunk All Over," she also has one of the largest wine sites: nataliemaclean.com.

The new scanning capability of the wine app is currently only available on iPhones but MacLean expects that BlackBerry users will be able to upgrade to the new version within a couple weeks.

Older versions of the app -- which also feature a virtual cellar, journal, and Facebook and Twitter integration -- have been out for more than a year.

The app's popularity has surged since it launched. Currently there are over 100,000 users, a number MacLean anticipates will rise.

"Since Apple approved it ... the downloads have just skyrocketed," she said.

(Reporting by Claire Sibonney; editing by Patricia Reaney )

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