- Written by Nick Breeze (@NickGBreeze) Nick Breeze (@NickGBreeze)
Many wine apps have set out to please mobile users but often have ended up in the trashcan as lack of necessity trumps usefulness. Is the new “sommelier in your pocket” app, Corkscrew, about to change that?
Corkscrew is an app that acts like a Google of restaurant menus and wine lists, aiming to pair the best wines with the right dishes. Despite CEO Matthew Gertner’s personal testament to experiencing a need for the wine/food pairing conundrum, I myself recall many instances receiving texts from friends in restaurants desperate for a wine style tip to pair with a particular dish.
USP: The Flavour database
Meet the creators of Corkscrew: Matthew Gertner & Matt Day
Over lunch in Kouzo, a smart Japanese restaurant in London’s Belgravia, Matt Day, the in-house sommelier, explained how he had developed a flavour database in order to profile the food types and wine varieties to deliver scientifically informed choices.
Such claims will automatically have people shouting “wine tasting is subjective!” but in reality, there are flavours that go and there are flavours that do not. The flavour database, therefore, is a very valuable piece of intellectual property packed into a pretty smooth application. However, this leads on to the next mole hill…
London restaurant menus and wine lists: a vast changeable feast
With a myriad of specials menus, seasonal dishes, guest wines and so on, how can an app, even one that trawls the web, possibly keep up with an industry whose logistics err on the side of chaos? The answer according to Corkscrew is the inclusion of a fictitious restaurant called ‘Chez Corkscrew’. I spent a good bit of time playing with the ‘Chez Corkscrew’ search listings, selecting food types and asking it to list wines to suit. This feature is useful for more reasons than just dining out. You can also use it to find wine styles for just about any dish that you are considering having at home or elsewhere.
I tested this on some dishes I was cooking at home, namely game dishes, and found the selections to be stylistically the same as what I had chosen. In the case of game, there is a range of “buttery chardonnays”, young Pinot Noir, or French Malbec.
The conclusion here is that Corkscrew can use it’s own generic fictional restaurant to plug the gaps where menus have changed or a particular restaurant has not yet been added to the listing. The latter issue I noticed on a couple of searches I made in testing but was assured when we met that a huge number of restaurants are being added each week.
Straight away I considered Corkscrew to a be a handy tool for food lovers who find themselves caught short when it comes to matching great dishes with great wines. It does what it says on the packet and, with Matt Day as the brains behind the flavour database, users should rest assured that the expertise is very much on the food side as well as the wine.
In terms of usability, the app is fast loading and pretty smooth. Simplicity is key and searching for restaurants kicks off by offering both a search form field and a list of places based on your geographical location. In this respect, it’s easy. I like also that the user is presented with a variety of wine options allowing for flexibility in relation to price and personal taste. Also, each wine tip has a percentage rating as to how perfect a match it can be. I’d be very inclined to make my own notes as to whether I agreed with what the app says and let that inform my reliance on the app.
As Matt day says, it’s also a great way to start a conversation with a real sommelier by asking what he thinks of the apps choice. The sommelier can either agree or raise one eyebrow disdainfully before proffering their own suggestions… much fun to be had.
Last of all, if any of the above sounds appealing then just download it. It’s free after all and you can form your own opinion. Happy drinking!
Wine Tasting in Abruzzo - tasting notes
Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.
Abruzzo: fine wine in an Italian idyll
East from Roma to Abruzzo
From Rome we headed east to Abruzzo, a region of Italy that rises up like a burly landlord to greet the traveller. The Apennine mountains at their tops are stark and beautiful, lonely, yet fulsome. Rustic doesn’t quite do this landscape justice. It’s a place for pilgrims, peace lovers and, of course, we followers of Bacchic and gastronomic pleasure.
Watch: Wine Tips from the Grape-Pickers Party
After days of picking grapes in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the pickers get together to drink, chat and enjoy the drinks they are meticulously involved in the making of.
Also check out local winemaker, Nico’s, top tip for a white Burgundy from Saint Aubin that you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to get!
From Picasso to Pecorino Wine (not cheese!!)
What started in El Quatre Gats tapas bar in Barcelona, soon became an adventure in the Marche region of Italy, that lies along the east coast facing Albania across the Adriatic Sea. El Quatre Gats is famously where Picasso had his first solo exhibition as a young edgy artists in the Catalan capital and I was there dining with Dr Pia Casarini Wadhams, Director of Italy’s only Polar Institute, Il Polo.
Fermo and the genteel pleasures of the Palazzo B&B
The Palazzo is located in the centre of Fermo, a small Roman hilltop town with a rich history dating back to antiquity. Flying from abroad, Ancona is the closest airport, 67km north (about an hours drive) along the coast of the Adriatic sea.