If viticulture and oenology are not in your everyday parlance, you are probably like most people and myself--you enjoy wine, but know nothing about it. Lucky us, there is a new app that helps you make sense of wine menus by simply snapping a photo. Its called WineGlass and for $5 dollars its here to turn you into a sommelier, even if you don’t know what that means.
WineGlass developed by Roddy Lindsay--who happened to have worked for Facebook for six years as well as being a data scientist--combined optical character recognition with CellarTracker, one of the top wine databases on the web. Since we can’t all afford the money and time to learn and sample various types of wine, WineGlass is a nice solution.
The idea for the app came while developer Roddy and his brother were attempting to select a wine in a Moscow restaurant. They, like many of us before, just picked the second cheapest. Their app was meant to democratize wine knowledge to make it less intimidating and more enjoyable--than it already is.
Simply download the app to your SmartPhone and focus the camera to a menu. The app connects to your camera and even detects if it’s too dark. If so, it will connect to your phone's flashlight allowing you to light up the image, focus, and snap a picture of the text. The photographed text will be detected through optical character recognition and linked up to CellarTracker’s database--which has information on more than a million wines.
WineGlass will display how much the bottle should cost at a restaurant, user reviews, points ratings (based on the traditional 100 point scale--most of this data comes directly from CellarTracker users), star rating (a visual representation from 1.5 to 5 of the average point rating of the wine), and food pairings.
WineGlass claims that it can read the most diverse of fonts and cursives, however be warned that this is not completely so. From personal experience, it only works on menus with clearly printed wine names. I tried the app while abroad-- and realized that most menus are not as organized and linear as expected—demanding more conservative menus displays and fonts than the app claims it can detect. However, if you are using the app on a seemingly normal wine menu it will work--flawlessly.