New Corkscrew app makes wine lists searchable and considers wine preferences

An app to help you find a wine you'd like on restaurant wine lists? It's free and it's called Corkscrew

A new wine app called Corkscrew collects wine lists from restaurants, makes them searchable and, whenever you choose a wine, garners enough information over time to predict which wines you might like on the next list you open. 

At launch this week, the app allows users to navigate wine lists at more than 8,000 restaurants in over 50 cities.

The free iOS app doesn’t have every Los Angeles restaurant wine list in its sights yet,  but it has enough to be useful. Fire up the app downtown and you get a list of nearby restaurants. That includes BadmaashLA Indian restaurant just down the block, Orsa & Winston, Bottega Louie and Drago Centro. No Bestia yet, but there are wine lists for L & E Oyster Bar, Elf Cafe, Mohawk Bend, Cliff’s Edge and Barbrix and many more — all organized by distance from where you are at the time. Further along, comes Little Dom, MessHall Kitchen, Patina, Drago Centro, République and Pizzeria Mozza

Click on a restaurant and you see two tabs, one of “suggestions,” and one for “full list.” At Patina, the third suggestion is 1998 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Homage a Jacques Perrin — at $1,185. This is a legendary wine, but not the most expensive of the suggestions, which are mostly in the three and four digits.

Little Dom’s suggestions are more varied in price, including a 2012 Alta Maria Chardonnay for $52 or the 2010 Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo “Perbacco” at $57. The app also includes wines by the glass, which is handy, if that is your preferred way of drinking.

You can also search a list by type (red, white, sparkling), by the glass, price range, country or grape. Take your pick and the app will display the wines that fit those criteria.

So how is the app different from just looking up the wine list online? First of all, not all restaurants list their wines on their website. And with Corkscrew, by clicking on a wine and rating it, the app gradually gains enough information to tweak the suggestions for each wine list better to suit your palate. 

Here's how it works. Choose and rate a minimum five wines the app needs in order to configure your palate.  Rating is done by conferring one to five stars (or parts thereof) on a wine and, if you like, writing tasting notes in your own words.

You can also venture into the advanced section, which is sort of multiple choice. For body, choose light, medium or full. For tannin or acidity, less, medium or more and so on, depending on the wine. To save your rating, you hit the "share" button,  at which point your rating for the wine shows up with your name attached.

After rating those five wines, now when you click on the “suggestions” tab for a restaurant, you get “personalized suggestions” at the top, followed by “popular.” At first, those suggestions will be skewed toward your first wines but still in the ballpark. 

Steering users toward wines they might like on a particular list is not all the app does. You can also look up specific bottles, say that birthday bottle of 2008 Fattoria di Felsina Berardenga Fontalloro, to see if any local restaurants have it — and how much it costs. This is kind of fun because you can see the range of prices restaurants are charging for the exact same bottle. That particular wine costs $80 at Amici Brentwood — and $125 at Tre Lune in Santa Barbara. Another example: the 2012 Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Côte de Py Beaujolais. The Hungry Cat has it for $59, Matsuhisa for $50.

The price differential can sometimes be shocking. All’ Acqua in Atwater Village, for example, lists the 2009 Qupé Roussanne Hillside Estate Bien Nacido Vineyard at $55. The Palm Restaurant has it for $75. Hakkasan in Beverly Hills lists it at $98. The lowest price is actually at All’ Acqua’s sister restaurant Barbrix, which is selling the bottle for $48.

Wine geeks should be thrilled to access to so many wine lists on their iPhones. (You can also search by restaurant name.) Corkscrew is available free in Apple's App store.

Follow @sirenevirbila for more on food and wine.

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