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Wine Cellar Pro by Velvet Vine, a Wine App

Featured on Apple’s own website (apple.com) in May of 2010, Wine Cellar Pro by Velvet Vine, created by Tap Leap Software, LLC, quickly became one of the top five recommended iPhone applications.  Allowing users to manage wine inventories, track purchases, and take personal tasting notes, Velvet Vine also allows users to share their wine journals, tasting notes, and reviews with other members.

Velvet Vine’s features include an online web management system, a sync feature to keep you up-to-date with wine information, a wishlist where you can enter wines you may want to purchase at a later date, an inventory that includes purchases, quantities, and favorite merchants, a search option to quickly peruse the stock in your own cellar, local announcements of tasting events, a vast reference section, and more!  You can even customize your own tasting events.

Screen Shots

When you download Wine Cellar Pro by Velvet Vine, you will be embraced by a far-reaching virtual wine community, and can befriend and follow members who have similar tastes and and interests.  This personal, interactive touch puts connects you to a knowledgeable wine community in which members delight in sharing years of wisdom and wine experience.

For $3.99, you can download version 2.6.1 for you iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.  (The app requires iOS 3.0 or later.)  It was last updated in March of 2011.

Want to check out more iPhone wine apps? We recently reviewed Wine Doctor and iWine, among others, and we’ve previously reviewed several Android wine apps, if you Android folks are feeling left out!

The Wine Doctor Is In!

March 23rd, 2011 3 comments

Wine Ph.D.

With access to information about thousands of wines, all filterable to match criteria including price, varietal, region, and food pairing, Wine Ph.D. by Perk Software allows users to do all of this, plus more.  This informative, elegant program lets you view wine ratings from professional wine publications, rate wines yourself, photograph and catalogue your wines, add personal tasting notes, etc. Wine Ph.D. even gives users access to up-to-date health articles that discuss the benefits of wine, wine trends, popular winemakers, recommended values, and expert tips.  In addition, the application lets you look up wine words and terminology with which you may be unfamiliar. The latest release, version 1.2, even provides current wine lists for select restaurants, allowing users to plan meals around a given wine in advance, or vice versa!  (Perhaps your favorite place to dine is listed?)  At an inexpensive $4.99, this app is ready to find a home on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad (with iOS 3.0 or later.)  Wine Ph.D. is built by Perk Software

Wine Ph.D. Screenshot

See more of our app recommendations here

iWine for Your Wine: A Great iPhone App

March 10th, 2011 2 comments

The ability to consult your own palm-sized wine journal, at any time, is now available for a flat $2.99.  That’s right!  Brought to you by Ageasoft, LLC, iWine is an iPhone app that makes a wealth of wine knowledge accessible at your fingertips.  Packed with extensive wine info, wine experts will be delighted by this handy wine encyclopedia-cum-oenophile.  And if you’re just embarking on your wine tasting journey, there’s a library of wine varietals, varietal types, and regions built right in.  Like having a personal sommelier with a photographic memory, the iWine app allows you to keep track of your wine collection by supplying images of your wines as well; now, you can recall not only the names of your favorite wines, but also the appearance of their bottles–pretty cool if you have an extensive collection of wine to navigate through!  And unlike other apps where wine ratings are automatically given, iWine allows you to personally rate the wine you taste using either a 5 diamond or 100 point rating system.  Nifty!  Compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, this app is definitely going to make an nice addition to my iPhone!

iWine Screen Shot

iWine is available on iTunes AppStore. We’ve already featured lots of wine apps for iPhone and Android–but if you know of a good one we haven’t featured, let us know in the comments!

Interview with a Vintner

January 11th, 2011 No comments

Dave Breeden discusses the art and science of winemaking from Scienceline on Vimeo.

During the harvest season, I got the chance to interview New York winemaker Dave Breeden. Dave is a chemist and a philosopher who makes award-winning wines at Sheldrake Point Winery in the Finger Lakes area. The question I came to Dave with was, “Is winemaking an art or a science?” His response was fascinating. Watch the video above and read the full profile here.

3 More Wine Apps for iPhone

November 26th, 2010 2 comments

Since we got such a great response to our original 3 iPhone Apps for Wine Lovers post, we thought we’d give you iPhone-wielding wine lovers three new reasons to shop for apps.  Here’s what’s new and cool:

Cor.kz Wine Info: If you’re feature-happy, this is the app for you.  It allows you to scan the barcode available on most bottles, then searches its wine database–which is nearly a million strong, by the way–to track down the bottle you’re considering.  You can read reviews, make notes, and even compare similar bottles side-by-side.  Cor.kz has got choosing a bottle of wine down to a science.  Price: $3.99

Fromage: Fromage is to vinophiles like, well, cheese is to wine.  Cheese is probably the world’s most popular snack to accompany your favorite beverage, but pairing wines and cheeses is notoriously difficult.  Enter Fromage.  This simple app has a database of over 650 cheeses, and for each, it gives a flavor profile and offers wine pairing suggestions.  Your cheese platter choices just got easy.  Price: $2.99

Wine Wherever: This is the perfect app for the traveling wine lover.  With a tap of your iPhone screen, you can get a complete listing of all the wineries in your area.  So next time you’re in Oregon, California, New York, or even Texas, check out Wine Wherever and imbibe of the best local beverages.  Price: $2.99 per regional map.

Know of a great wine app (for any platform–see our previous posts for Android and Blackberry) that we haven’t covered yet? Tell us about it in the comments!

3 More Wine Apps for Android

October 15th, 2010 4 comments

Since our post on 3 Android Apps for Wine Lovers is so popular, and more apps are coming out for Android all the time, we figured we’d showcase a few more!

Wine Dictionary: Even expert collectors occasionally run across a wine descriptor they’ve never seen before.  This wine glossary app isn’t fancy, but it does the job: whether you’re in the store or at home, in mere seconds you can find out what a “Tarrango” is.  (In case you can’t wait for the app to download, it’s a acidic wine low in tannins made by crossing Touriga Nacional and Sultana vines). Bonus tip: Check out our wine storage glossary!

Corkbin: Initially available for iPhone only, this is a clean and simple app for taking notes on wines you like and sharing them with your friends.  Corkbin has a space for your tasting notes and lets you couple the notes with a picture, so you can recognize the label next time you’re at the wine store.  It also allows you to upload your findings to Facebook or Twitter: perfect for winos who love to share the fun.

Hello Vino: Like Corkbin, this app has recently expanded to the Android market.  It’s simply one of the best wine pairing apps out there.  One great thing about Hello Vino’s pairing service is that it lets you search both ways: whether you have a meal in mind that needs a wine, or a wine ready to go that needs the perfect meal, this app can give you great suggestions.  It can also help you out when you’re at the wine store, by searching for ratings and reviews to help you make your decision, or suggest great wines for occasions, gifts, and holidays.

Do you use any of these apps, or another we forgot to mention?  Let us know what wine apps you love for Android!

More wine apps for iPhone will be coming soon, too!

eSommelier Wine Collection Management System

September 29th, 2010 No comments

If you have a growing wine collection, there’s one thing you can’t do without: a system for keeping track of your bottles.  Ok, you need a proper storage space and a climate-controlled environment too, but once you have those things, organization really is essential.  If you don’t know what’s in your cellar, your collection can quickly turn into chaos.

Keeping track of the bottles you buy and drink is the only way you can ensure that your collection grows the way you want it to.  But if you’re like me, your average organizational techniques consist of scribbled post-it notes and lists that you are continually losing.  Your wine collection deserves better.

Disorganized wine enthusiasts, meet eSommelier, “The World’s Finest Wine Cellar Management System”.  It uses a touch screen system to track the bottles you have in your cellar, giving you an easy, elegant way to keep in touch with your wine.

Here are a few of its coolest features:

  • It shows you the price you paid for the wine and compares that to its current value.
  • It uses a simple color-coded system to show you how close any given wine is to optimal drinking age.
  • It includes a bar code printed that makes a unique label for each wine you bring into the cellar, giving each bottle a unique address and identity that lets you know where it is at any time.
  • You can access your eSommelier database from your kitchen or even from the wine store, letting you know at the touch of a button which bottles you already have, and which will be the perfect additions to your collection.

It’s definitely pricey, but there’s no comparing this system to a pen-and-paper log or excel spreadsheet. eSommelier is truly the ultimate wine management system.

Which Wines Age Well?

September 7th, 2010 No comments

Some VERY old bottles. Let’s hope they have what it takes to open up well!

Aging a bottle of wine has a very distinct, qualitative effect on the contents. But it’s a very unpredictable effect. This leaves wine aficionados in a rough place–you don’t want to spend the time and the money aging a nice bottle of wine, only to open it up and find out that: a) you didn’t wait long enough, b.) you waited too long, or c.) it wasn’t a good candidate for aging anyway. Although wine aging is imprecise, there are some clues that can help you, like some psychic detective who figures out the crime in advance, determine the right bottles to cellar.

Sugar content and alcohol: A high percentage of sugar and alcohol slows the aging process, keeping the wine chemicals from reacting too fast and becoming unbalanced, or worse, turning to vinegar.

Tannins: Highly tannic wines are generally great candidates for aging. Tannins are phenolic compounds present in the skin, seeds, and stems of grapes (and thus, usually only in red wines). You know the wine you’re drinking is tannic when it gives your mouth a dry, puckering sensation that can be very unpleasant. But as tannins age, they bind to each other, losing their astringent quality and making the wine supple and smooth. They also bind to other compounds in the wine, changing their chemistry and giving the wine new, complex flavors.

Structure: Tannins don’t mean good aging by themselves. They need the proper acidity and fruitinesss to back them up.  Having great tannins or wonderful fruitiness alone isn’t enough. A wine that will age gracefully needs to have a backbone–or “structure” to it that will keep the wine from deteriorating into muddiness as it ages. A wine with good structure should have tannins backed up by distinct acidity and concentrated, nuanced fruit flavors.

Varietals that age well:

Riesling: A wonderful candidate for aging. A good Riesling can go on improving, growing rounder in flavor, virtually forever.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabs from Bordeaux, California, and many other places have the bold richness needed to age well. When determining whether a Cab will develop delicious secondary and tertiary flavors, ask yourself if it has the structure, tannins, and richness of fruit needed to hold up to years of aging.

Chardonnay: It depends. A rich, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t have the structure to age well and will fall apart within a few years. But acidic Chardonnays with rich mineral tastes can very well improve with aging.

Fortified wine: Port, Madeira and the like age wonderfully because their high quantities of sugar and alcohol act to slow down the aging process, meaning that they can open well after even hundreds of years.

Pinot Noir: Professional opinions vary. Many experts think that the taste of a young Pinot is so great that you shouldn’t hang on to one for more than five years. But others hold that a well-aged Pinot is the holy grail of the wine world. This grape, so unpredictable on the vine, is unpredictable in the cellar too.

Syrah: Most Syrahs age well, but only up to a limit–about 10 years.

Merlot: Merlot is a very forgiving wine. Many bottles taste great young, but will still benefit from some time in the cellar. So Merlot is a great varietal to experiment with–try a variety of ages and see what suits your tastes.

Zinfandel: Like Cabernet Sauvignon, many Zinfandels have the potential to age to greatness.

Old Italian wines: Yes, they’ve already been aging, so you might say they don’t count, but these wines can make a valuable addition to your cellar. Italian wines from the 50s and 60s age wonderfully because they were made by farmers with primitive equipment. Their wines ended up very high in tannins, making them great aging candidates.

Varietals that don’t:

Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and most Rosés: They don’t have the structure necessary for good aging.

Wines under $15: They’re made to drink now.

Champagne: Though some champagnes can age well, becoming rounder, softer, and less bubbly over time, most are not meant to. If you’re holding on to a 20-year old bottle from your wedding, you probably won’t like it.

Why age at all?

You may have heard that since most wine nowadays is drunk within 48 hours of purchase, winemakers are starting to cater to the customer who plans to open the bottle right away. There is some truth to this statement–some winemakers, for example, are tending to harvest Cabernet Sauvignon grapes when they are very ripe–almost too ripe. This results in a wine that is high in fruit, acid and tannins, meaning that you can drink it younger, but not necessarily that it tastes good. Wines like this lack the subtlety and grace of a “true” Cabernet Sauvignon, which has a richness of background flavors that makes drinking it anything but a one-note experience.

Wines that have the foundational flavors to age well–a balance of tannins, acids, fruit, sugar, and alcohol, will develop secondary and even tertiary flavors, meaning that the wine will keep surprising the palate with new tastes and aromas from the first sniff to the end of the bottle. These flavors, which can remind the drinker of smoke, leather, figs, soil, or a thousand other subtle smells and tastes, make the drinking of a properly aged bottle a completely unique experience.

Hints for wine collectors:

No one can predict the perfect age at which a wine should be opened.  If you want to come as close to perfect as possible, the best thing to do is buy a case of wine at a time, and open a bottle every so often to gauge how it’s coming along. And don’t think of it as a waste–it’s an entertaining an educational experience to see how the flavors change as a particular vintage matures. Alternatively, you can look online to find people who have opened the vintage you’re holding on to, and see what they thought of it. This is the best way to determine the right age.

Be sure to keep tabs on the ages of the wines in your cellar. Remember that there’s no use aging wines if you’re just going to let them turn to vinegar in a forgotten corner. Keep tags on your bottles‘ necks so that you can read the label without disturbing the contents, and keep a detailed record of everything in your winery, whether on paper or digitally (such as with an  eSommelier wine cellar management device). Don’t forget to include tasting notes when you finally open the bottle.

Top Ten Wine Storage Tips

August 17th, 2010 1 comment

Here’s a handy cheat sheet to help you remember what’s essential to storing and aging your wine properly.

1.  Keep your wine storage area–whether cabinet, cellar, or refrigerator, cool.  Between 55 and 57° F is perfect.  This temperature lets some chemical reactions–the kind that improve the wine–happen, while keeping other harmful reactions at bay.

2.  Keep it humid–between 50 and 80% humidity.  This keeps the corks from getting too moist or too try.

3.  Keep it dark.  UV rays can cause the otherwise stable organic compounds in wine to degrade, ruining the wine.

4.  Keep vibration at a minimum.  Vibration disturbs the sediment that would otherwise fall to the bottom of the bottle as it is formed.

5.  Don’t expose your wine to big fluctuations in temperature.  Even a short exposure to extreme temps can cause chemical reactions that will ruin your wine. Use a cooling system to keep the temperatures in check.

6.  Keep bottles on their sides.  This keeps the cork moist, preventing it from drying out and letting in too much oxygen.  Tags on the bottle tops can help you keep track of what’s what without disturbing the wine inside.

7.  Prevent exposure to odors.  Odors in the wine storage environment can change the way the wine tastes.  Even shelving must be treated with a finish that is specifically designed for wine storage and so, completely odorless, so think about your paint, floors, and every other material in your storage area.  Keep smells out of your cellar and they’ll stay out of the bottle.

8.  Experiment.  There’s no way of telling whether that Cab should age for 5 years or 6 to reach perfection.  Keep a few bottles of your favorites on hand and open them at different times.  Track the results.

9.  Keep it organized.  Develop a system–whether on paper or in a computer wine cellar database–that lets you easily keep track of what bottles you have and how long they’ve been aging.

10.  Have fun with it!  Remember that wine is meant to be enjoyed.  Cheers!

Wine Storage Tips

July 16th, 2010 No comments

1. If the conditions aren’t right, the wine will rot.  There’s nothing worse than opening a bottle after years of storage, only to discover that instead of aging gracefully, it’s turned to vinegar.  Keep the temperature of your wine cellar, wine refrigerator, wine closet, or wine cabinet between 50 and 65 degrees F for red wine and 45 to 60 degrees for white wine.

2. Here’s a nifty trick: since heat rises, and white wines need cooler conditions than reds do, keep white wines close to the floor and red wines closer to the ceiling.

3. Maintain a relative humidity between 50 and 70%.  Click here for our discussion on the importance of the right humidity for wine aging.

4. Keep bottles out of the light as much as possible.  When you do need to flip the switch to read the labels, make sure you’re using incandescent, not florescent—the extra UV light from florescent bulbs can penetrate the glass and interfere with the wine’s aging process.

5. Store bottles on their sides to keep the cork moist (a too-dry cork can shrink or even crack, letting in too much air and ruining the wine).

6. Use racks specifically designed for wine storage.  Certain types of woods and treatments can impart undesirable tastes to the bottles or can not rot in the damp, cool climate of your wine cellar.

7. Since you want to protect your wines from temperature fluctuations, and the areas nearest the door of your wine cellar are most vulnerable to temperature and humidity shifts, keep the younger wines that you plan to drink soon near the door, and the investment bottles that you want to age in the back corners.

8. Protect your wines from vibration.  Put your wine cellar in an appropriate place (a professional can help you find one), and avoid picking up the bottles.  Hang wine tags on the necks of your stored sideways bottles and write the label information on them.  This way, you can browse through your collection without disturbing the bottles.

9. The best way to ensure your collection is organized is to keep a regularly updated database of what’s currently in your cellar.  You can use a book or even a computer spreadsheet.  There is also some nifty software built for managing wine collections. Your records should note when you bought the wine, its name, region, producer, vineyard name, price paid, estimated value and future value, and leave space for tasting notes—the most important part!—for when you finally drink it.