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Banquet: A new wine-buying app that’s actually easy to use

Banquet, a new wine-buying app from the team behind Delectable, makes it easy to order online from independent shops with a point of view.

Banquet, a new wine-buying app from the team behind Delectable, makes it easy to order online from independent shops with a point of view.

(Banquet)

If you’ve ever tried to buy wine through a smartphone app, you’ll know how sluggish and frustrating the experience can be. But what if the interface was easy to use, you could buy unique wines from independent wine shops across the country and only have to enter your credit card information once?

That is exactly what the team behind the wine-journaling app Delectable is trying to do with its new wine-buying app Banquet. Though Delectable started as more of a wine scrapbook or personal wine journal, users kept asking for more features. Soon you could not only follow fellow wine enthusiasts and wine professionals to see what they were drinking, but you could also use the app to buy wine.

But, according to Julia Weinberg, Delectable’s resident wine nerd, the experience wasn’t optimal. So she and the company’s engineers and techies came up with Banquet by Delectable.

And the app has some pretty exciting wine shops participating so far. DomaineLA in Hollywood is one of four California stores that have opted in. The others are Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant in Berkeley (a major coup), a small San Francisco shop called Ruby Wine Merchant in San Francisco, and a relatively new wine merchant called Kogod Wine Merchant in Encinitas.

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From New York comes the wonderful Flatiron Wines & Spirits, the long established Morrell & Company Wine, Chambers Street Wines, Manhattan Wine Company and TriBeCa’s Frankly Wines.

Do not confuse buying wine through the app with purchasing wine at Costco or BevMo. The participating shops carry unusual, well-curated selections, each with a distinct point of view. And each one has a slightly different, highly personal mix showcased in their individual storefronts on Banquet.

Click on a wine and you see that bottle’s Delectable user rating and whether it’s a staff pick, and maybe some tasting notes for that particular wine. The app also alerts you if that wine is not in stock, and you can see what the shipping charges will be before you complete your order. (Remember that it’s always more economical to ship six bottles or a case than a single bottle of wine.) Some stores will have a local delivery option, too, which is wonderful in New York City, but challenging for Los Angeles.

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If you live in Los Angeles, why would you buy a wine from a shop in New York? Because sometimes, for one reason or another, that wine is not available on the West Coast. Or the shop might have an older vintage of a spectacular wine. Or you’re going to be in New York and want to buy a case for your daughter’s graduation party or your college roommate’s 30th birthday. You can also order wine gifts through the app.

Banquet’s interface is kind of genius. Search by region, price, ratings, or drill down to the grape or the sub-region. You can even “save” the bottles that interest you and go back and buy them when and if you’re ready.

For DomaineLA, or any other shop for that matter, there’s an option to pick up the wines in the store. This means you can choose the wines for your New Year’s Eve party, pay for them ahead of time and send someone else to fetch the bottles. Or if you’re renting a house for the holidays, have the wines shipped to your vacation spot.

Banquet by Delectable, and Delectable are both free for the iPhone in iTunes. An app for Android will come later.

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Follow @sirenevirbila for more on food and wine.

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