A wine menu is just a string of confusing French words to most people. But take a photo of one with WineGlass, and the app overlays reviews, tasting notes, and what you should expect to pay for each bottle on the menu. WineGlass could keep you from getting ripped off, find you vino you actually like, and make you a hit at dinner parties for just $5.
Developed by a Roddy Lindsay, a six-year Facebook veteran and data scientist, WineGlass combines optical character recognition with top wine database CellarTracker to turn you into a sommelier, even if you don’t know what that means.
“It always kind of struck me that wine is this thing that’s very unapproachable. You have to commit a lot of money and a lot of time if you want to get anything out of it,” Lindsay tells me.
The idea for WineGlass came while Lindsay and his brother were staring baffled at a wine menu in a Moscow restaurant — “eyes glazed over with anxiety and shame,” the developer writes. “Like many poor saps whose wine knowledge consisted of a preference for white, or possibly red, the natural instinct was simply to choose the second cheapest. How are we normals ever supposed to know what the hell “Coche-Dury Auxey-Duresses, Cote de Beaune” means? Is it a red, or a white?”
Lindsay resolved to democratize knowledge about the fruit of the vine.
He’d been working at Facebook as a software engineer since 2007, most recently project managing the activities and emotion sharing feature. He left last year, and alongside ambisonic audio engineering, building WineGlass became his obsession.
WineGlass for iOS is super simple. Point its camera at a wine menu and take a photo. WineGlass then scans the wine names using optical character recognition and matches them against its partner CellarTracker’s database of over 1 million reviews of countless bottles.
You can then tap down the list in your photo, and WineGlass will display what you should expect to pay for a bottle at a restaurant, a star rating, point score, what the wine tastes like, and what food it pairs well with. Love a bottle and you can save it to CellarTracker.
That’s it. You’re instantly a wine expert. You’ll probably recoup the $5 cost with the purchase of a single bottle that’s tasty and reasonably priced instead of taking a wild guess.
Though it improves pricing transparency so restaurants can’t swindle you, Lindsay thinks his app will be good for the wine industry.
“I end up buying more expensive wines and I buy more of them. If I see something is a 5-star wine people are raving about, I want to try that out when I could have easily defaulted to a beer or cocktail that I know.” Lindsay did hint that the same tech could produce a great beer app, too.
WineGlass can’t read the weirdest of fonts and cursives, but should work on most wine menus. While there are personal wine assistants like Hello Vino for browsing reviews, and bottle identifiers like Delectable, Vivino, and Drync, it’s WineGlass that gives you recommendations when you need them: at the table.
Plus, Lindsay notes that WineGlass can make you sexy. “There’s also the third date scenario. Your date goes to the bathroom, you take a photo, find something great, and then wax eloquent. “Oh, you have the 2002 Lafond Brouilly?! Excellent.’”