Published February 2016
I think I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for: an app that gives you enough information about nearly any wine at the click of a button. It may not be perfect or all-encompassing, but for 99% of people, it will be more than enough 99% of the time. Vivino is not new (it was founded in Denmark in 2010), but it has grown so much now that it may just be unstoppable. If you haven’t already tried it, or haven’t tried it for a while, you should try it (again).
Why should you try Vivino?
To kick it off, all you have to do is fix your smartphone’s camera onto a wine bottle’s label, and the Vivino app will try to match it. I’ve only had a couple that have failed to match, which supports Vivino’s claim to have “the largest wine library in the world” at over 8 million wines.
Here are some of the main features provided by Vivino:
- Details of over 8 million wines:
- photo of the label
- overall rating
- average price
- a summary of the wine type (e.g. information about Barolo)
- food pairings
- grape information (e.g. a summary of Nebbiolo, along with the levels of acidity and body, and what food pairs well with the grape)
- user reviews
- ranking of the wine (by winery, region, country, globally)
- vintage comparisons (average price and rating per year)
- details on the winery and other wines made by it.
- The ability for you to store your views on the wines:
- your rating
- information about the wine
- your review
- wish lists
- The option to buy the wine from stockists
- Lists of the best wines by price bracket (under £10, £10-20, £20-40, £40+)
- Awards for regional styles
- Food and drink (not just wine) establishments nearby to your location
- A social element: the ability to follow other people and get/share info with friends, featured users, etc
- It is country-oriented based on each user’s location
- Regular articles
The beauty of this app is it’s volume of information. Whether Vivino’s stated figures are true (of around 14 million app users, 214 million scanned labels, 14 million reviews, 40 million ratings, and 2.5 million prices) there is no doubting that it is comprehensive in its coverage.
Are there any cons?
Criticisms? As usual, we come back to the validity of the users, their ratings and reviews. Who are these people? How much do they know? Should I really trust their impressions of the wines? Doesn’t the aggregation of data dumb wine down?
No. In my other life I’ve come across a lot of research that argues the opposite. For example, James Surowiecki argues quite convincingly that aggregation of information (in certain circumstances) results in better decisions that would have been reached by a single member of the group. Douglas Hubbard and Steve McConnell both argue that ‘expert’ opinion is often not the best approach.
Will Vivino ever be bettered?
So maybe Vivino has got it spot on? One big question is about the business model: are they currently monetising it sufficiently or will they start charging users in the future? Vivino is free unless you want to upgrade for extra features, such as a personal buying guide, expert ratings, cellar management, and priority scanning on unrecognised wines (the cost for these is £3.99/month or an annual fee of £39.99). I’d be surprised if many people are opting for the paid services because the unpaid service gives so much information. Courtney Quattrini at Vivino told me that “Vivino will always be free for the majority of our users. As you do note, we offer a premium version with additional features that are tailored to a sub-segment of users who want professional critic reviews and appreciate our customized buying guide. … Regarding monetization, that will center around us building out a wine marketplace – that means us better connecting wine merchants to our users directly.”