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Posted: Monday, 26 July 2010 13:05

Review : Natty Sommelier in Your Pocket

For most of us, walking into a wine store to choose a ‘good’ wine for dinner or ordering wine at a restaurant can be an intimidating experience, but for the iPhone users there is now a magic lamp in your pocket wherever you are in the world with the award-winning writer, judge and accredited sommelier Natalie MacLean providing a versatile app, writes Natasha Vohra who reviews the app after using it herself for a couple of weeks.

How do you decide which wine is the best for you? How do you know which wines you should choose from the seemingly unfamiliar wines on the restaurant list? Spending a lot of money on that bottle without having a clue could be a disaster, preventing many of us from ordering wine at all.

Now imagine having one of the world’s most knowledgeable, award-winning wine writers materialize to help you make a selection based solely on your menu or palate – if you’re an iPhone user, you have the magic lamp and Natalie is the genie that will appear at your fingertips!

Meet Ms. Natalie MacLean – accredited sommelier, accomplished wine writer, speaker and judge, a member of the National Capital Sommelier Guild, the Wine Writers Circle and several French wine societies. Her last three years as a stellar part of the world of wine are chronicled in her book ‘Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass’ that was recently chosen the Best Wine Literature Book in the English language at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. In fact, the Awards she has won and her list of accomplishments is so distinguished that it would take another article altogether to do justice to all of them.

As an iPhone user myself, I have long searched for an app that is actually informative and found Nat Decants to be one of the best iPhone apps out there for food and wine, featuring almost 400,000 pairings that have been professionally tested, as opposed to a computer generated algorithm.  Amazingly organized and user friendly, it can entice even the most amateur wine drinker by offering very clear and concise material.

Let’s say you have a spicy curry on the menu tonight and would like to find the perfect wine to go with it. All you need to do is find the dish on the pairings page and Natalie will bring to you each and every type of wine that you might enjoy with it. Not only that, the app pulls up a menu of more than one kind of wine that would pair well, along with the vintage, the producer, her personal rating score of the wine and even the price! (I am afraid, it is in dollars! But our Indian readers would get some ideas comparing with the price on the restaurant wine list).

I looked up ‘Indian Dishes’ on the pairings menu and the choices provided were simply amazing – I had a choice of Beaujolais, Cabernet Franc, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Riesling….the list goes on and on. One click on any of these gives you all the details and a choice of available brands. Not only that, there is a detailed glossary that will explain the characteristics of the varietal you have chosen, giving you a better understanding of the flavors you can expect.

But the information does not stop here – regardless of the fact that you have your heart set on a spicy curry, the list of recipes that come up when you view the details of your selection, may just tempt you to try another dish! This is also, in my opinion, one of the most interesting features of the app, how starting from one point, the information just flows and you end up knowing a lot more about the Riesling you were considering and are tempted into trying a different food pairing altogether.

The app is definitely the most useful for identifying and even locating the wine you’d like to pair with your food, but it swings the other way too. If you are more interested in one particular wine, Natalie can help you to decide your menu according to your favourite quaff. Don’t be surprised if you also find the corresponding recipes conveniently included.

Apart from food pairings, you can also find reviews by Natalie for hundreds of wines. Some of these are free but you can access the premium reviews for a price.

Nat Decants also features a virtual wine cellar section where you can record the wines you enjoy, own or would like to own. You can add your own tasting notes if you come across a wine that you particularly enjoyed and then add it to your cellar’s wish list or shopping list.
All these amazing tools on the app ensure that you have a highly personalized, comprehensive list of wines suited only to your tastes and preferences.  There is even an option for you to proudly share your ‘cellar’ on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

This handy app will also give you access to Natalie’s articles, blogs and newsletters and a list of wineries according to wine region. If you are lucky enough to be visiting a known wine region, wouldn’t it be wonderful to have ‘Nat’ tell you which wineries to visit, how to get there and even how to contact them?! Here’s yet another feature that takes this app to a level higher than its counterparts. A click (or in the case of the iPhone – a swipe!) will let you see which wineries you could visit in Australia, France, Argentina etc – just to name a few of the long list featured on the app -  you can find a link to the specific wineries’ websites and all their contact info.

Nat Decants is a truly informative tool that can help, advise, teach and guide you as you follow your palate through the wonderful world of wine. As any wine drinker/lover knows, the possibilities are endless and isn’t it amazing that you have access to a sommelier in your pocket?

Personally, I must say that the  Nat Decants sommelier is a FUN App! And it comes for FREE!!

Natasha Vohra

Comments:

 

Adil Arora Says:

Very nice article. I have an iPad. Can it be downloaded on it too? Thanks. Adil Arora.

Posted @ July 26, 2010 14:50

       

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