Perhaps it’s stating the painfully obvious but I’m a little weird, and I think maybe you are, too. Otherwise why would you be reading this blog? I straddle a very precarious line between technology’s detachment from physicality and the need for a tactile attachment to what’s quickly becoming “vintage.” For as much as I load my iPhone with mp3s of everything from Marley to Manson, there’s nothing I love more than the popping sounds of a turntable needle on vinyl. And as totally cool as that Kindle looks (it may look even better if it’s under my Christmas tree) there’s something about the weight, the smell…the sensation of a book cracking open in your hand, that no amount of bells and whistles can replace for me.
I guess the fact that my iPhone’s hard drive is weighed down with music is probably why I’ve got such few apps on it, and that’s fine by me. Other than maybe my Netflix queue, a Pro Football app and Twitter, all my other apps are either music related, reference related or gastronomy related. But it seems like lately there are a shitload of new food/beer/wine related apps showing up and I’m not sure how much of it is really worth my time, my money or my breath.
Up until yesterday, when I was asked to review Snooth Pro, I had no wine-related apps simply because I haven’t found anything yet that soaks my shorts. But I’ve also found that the majority of wine apps carry a price tag, something I’m not usually keen on unless I know it’s worth it, and since I don’t give a shit about ratings, keeping track of my non-existent wine collection or taking notes on a wine I’m having out somewhere, I’d rather spend my five bucks on a couple of slices of good pizza and call it a day. But a few folks have been reaching out to me, eager to promote whatever the hell their latest app endeavor is, so I thought I’d mention a few. For all intents and purposes, consider this the Angels & Demons of Gastronomic Apps.
Seafood Watch (Free) which keeps tracks of which fish are sustainable choices and which aren’t, thus telling you which to avoid, which are good alternatives and which are your best choices when you are eating out or shopping. You no longer have an excuse for being ignorant enough to order Chilean Sea Bass when you take the old lady out for dinner.
Open Table (Free) for restaurant reservations. May not be of much use to those of you that aren’t near a metropolitan area…I honestly have no idea…but it’s helpful, especially if I’m looking to see who’s got last-minute availability.
Epicurious (Free) is based on the website of the same name and includes over 28,000 recipes from magazines like Bon Appétit and (the now defunct) Gourmet, as well as popular cookbooks, chefs and restaurants. Often, it serves as a source of basic inspiration when you’re staring down yet another package of chicken breasts.
BeerCloud (Free) is one of my faves because it’s got it all for a beer geek. Whether it’s just learning more about a brewery or a particular beer, tracking a beer down in your neighborhood with a GPS, finding out what beers pair best with your dinner or just learning more about different styles of beer, this app does it.
R-U-Buzzed? (Free) – You gotta love this…a BAC “calculator” so you know if you’re too shit-faced to get behind a wheel, go home with the hedge funds investor or successfully manage the Cotton-Eyed Joe dance without falling on your face. This would be great but the problem is, it’s not like a breath-a-lizer where your requirements (breathing) are minimal. With this app, you’ll need to input your weight (as if any woman will actually be honest), how many hours you’ve been drinking, and how many beers/glasses of wine/shots you’ve had in that time. That’s a LOT to ask someone who can’t currently remember where she left her panties or her best friend…or her best-friend’s panties.
Snooth Pro ($4.99) – When an app tells you that the closest store that carries a wine you are looking for is in Denmark somewhere, you find yourself fighting the urge to hunt down its creators in order to stab them repeatedly with a dull pencil until your arm goes numb or they require emergency medical attention—whichever comes first. Snooth has the potential for greatness, I guess, but right now it’s an Arnold Horshack, vying for attention but limited in what it contributes. Apparently, if you take a photo of a wine bottle it can find information on it, tell you what local stores around you carry it, and which has the best price. You can also save that wine to your wishlist or virtual cellar, read reviews of it or write your own. I wasn’t about to test this with Yellowtail, so I snapped a photo of a Rioja I recently received as a sample. Winesearcher.com let me know it was available in 8 different stores in NYC and 2 in Jersey, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Meanwhile, Snooth told me the closest retailer that carried it was 3,748 miles away—in Denmark. It did, however, find a slightly more common wine (Clean Slate Riesling) in several nearby stores so it’s not completely without merit. My gut tells me, however, that if you live out in the middle of East Buttfuck and happen to be in search of a lovely Austrian Scheurebe you’ve just had at a wine bar, you’ll be wasting your time and money.
Farmers Market Finder ($4.99) – If you happen to live in Santa Clara county (CA) then consider yourself the lucky bastard that can download this for free. Otherwise, the app is available for GA, DE, FL, MD, NY, RI, VT, VA and DC but it’ll cost you five bones to know what farmers markets are in your state and operating on any given day. Five bucks? For farmers markets? Really? Save yourself a few devalued dollars and look ‘em up online for free.
Wine Words ($0.99) – You’d think this could be something worthwhile, especially for a buck, because it serves as a sort of multilingual dictionary of wine terms, but it’s as useful as a woman in a sperm bank. You can’t actually…you know…look shit up. All you get is one term a day. So if you’re standing in a wine shop in the Germany section wondering what the hell a Trockenbeerenauslese is you are SOL.