• By: Eric Murphy

Natalie MacLean App Takes the Guessing out of Wine

Photos courtesy of Natalie MacLean.

Staring at the row upon row of wine at pretty much any LCBO you’ll visit, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options. Sometimes a clever label grabs your attention and you want to try it, but will it be good enough for your next night in?

Now there’s a way to find out with just a few taps of your smartphone. The Natalie MacLean Wine Scanner and Reviews app can instantly scan a wine bottle’s label or barcode and connect you with background information and reviews. It’s like a sommelier that fits in your pocket.

A view of the app on a smartphone’s screen.

“This is the first wine app on the planet that brings together a powerful label image scanner, a barcode reader, local wine pricing, stock data across the country and 220,000 professional wine reviews,” says MacLean, who works as an editor at the wine review site nataliemaclean.com.

The app works like a combination of the reviewing app Yelp and the song-recognition app Shazam. It can take a wine you’ve never heard of and quickly tell you everything you need to know, from ratings to tasting notes to pairings.

You can also share and save your wines to your “cellar” right on the app, making it easier to track down any vintages you love.

“Wine labels are much more intuitive than text,” MacLean explains. “You’re more likely to remember that label with the blue penguin than you are the name of the wine.”

Although label scanning isn’t perfect—sometimes the curving bottles can confuse the scanner—users can suggest corrections that will help the system get even better over time.

Natalie MacLean is a Canadian journalist and author of the best-selling books “Red, White and Drunk All Over” and “Unquenchable,” both published by Random House.