Snooth, an online wine review and listing database, launched the newest version of its iPhone application last week (free, with a pro version that eliminates ads for $4.99). The most touted feature allows the user to photograph a wine label and instantly have access to detailed information about the bottle, including user reviews and nearby stores where the bottle is available. In theory, the application should function like Shazam (a popular app that magically identifies songs), and be useful for the casual wine drinker, but the technology's still in progress. We tested Snooth on five bottles from the mostly Italian list at New York's Frankies 17 to see how it fared.
* The interface is clean, and the search options ideal. You can find nearby wine stores; view wines that you've previously searched for and saved in your "winelist;" and of course, search for wines by photo or text.
* To see whether the application had some sort of Italian wine bias, we tested a few additional domestic bottles from our own stock. Snooth correctly identified four out of four California wines tested (Corison, Barnett, Frog's Leap and Sherwin Family Vineyards).
* We like the unique photo search feature but there are some kinks. Of the five bottles we searched for, Snooth correctly identified four but could only provide the producer information, leaving the user to manually input the grape varietal and vintage.
* Via photo search: It took three attempts to recognize one of the selections ('07 Oddero Barbera D'Alba). A rep for the company tells The Feast that it all depends on the quality of both the image provided to them by the winemaker and the one taken by the user. But given the optimal light conditions and decent picture quality (tested on an iPhone 4), it's reasonable to assume that there are problems with the database.
When the application works, it's very useful. The pricing information would be especially revealing when investigating just how much a local restaurant is marking up a bottle of wine. Snooth tells us that the technology is constantly being improved, and any future updates will be free to all users. In addition, new wines are being added to the company's database of over 820,000 wines everyday. For now, it's a promising novelty.