If you are a lover of wine and a habitual Twitterer, you will almost certainly be familiar with @realtimewine – the 140-characters-or-less wine review account, started by Andy Hadfield (@andyhadfield). Initially it comprised of Andy tweeting short, sweet and simple wine reviews and encouraging others to do the same. These tweets were compiled in blog form. After a while, the sheer volume of tweets suggested that there might be more to this idea than just Twitter and a blog. And the idea of the Real Time Wine app was sparked.
The app has a simple, colourful and intuitive interface. Upon launching the app, you are greeted with three tabs: Latest, Popular and Specials. There is also a drop-down menu and search function at the top of the screen. As the name suggests, Latest directs you to the newest entries to the app. Popular presents the top 10 rated wines currently on the app and Specials (which is yet to go live) will in future alert you to any specials and promotions in your area.
You can search for a specific wine, browse through existing entries and rate them as you go, either with a quick rate (Yum, Hmm or Yuk) or with a Check In where you can add a short review as well as the retail price. You can also add a new wine, with a review, picture and retail price. For every check in, quick rate or review you complete, you get points. You start out as a New Grape on the Block and as you rack up more points, you move up the leader board until you are a Don Vino. That will require working your way through a lot of wine though. I can think of nothing more enjoyable.
Andy is very particular about the wording of the Real Time Wine reviews. Typical jargon and snobby clichés are strictly forbidden, with the app geared to pick up on them and suggest you use something else. The rationale behind this is to make drinking and enjoying wine more accessible by keeping it simple and honest and keeping the snobs at bay.
The app also goes a long way to deciphering the heavily-laden shelves of supermarkets and liquor stores, where hundreds of estates, varietals and blends are stacked together for consumer to browse. The downside of being so spoiled for choice is that the average buyer faced with such a plethora of packaging, names and labels either blindly chooses a bottle that “looks nice” or sticks to what they know. Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with either approach, but the exercise of choosing a wine has been made much less daunting by the existence of the app. So the next time you’re faced with a wall of wine, simply whip out your smart phone and let the ratings speak for themselves.
You can also keep track of our own tastes and preferences. Each individual’s user profile keeps track of a number of factors, including average spend, favourite wines, top varietals and average bottles per month.
Real Time Wine’s bottom line is real people talking about real wine. In real words. The app is fully functioning with a database that’s growing by the day. A few bugs creep up from time to time, but Andy and the team are quick to address any problems to ensure it runs smoothly. The app is available for smartphones or as a standalone app available from iTunes and Google Play.