Tag Archives: Natalie MacLean

Apps For Wine Lovers

It seems these days there’s an app for everything and wine is no exception, actually you’ll find dozens at the app store most of which are free.  They range from apps that help you pair foods, practically making you an instant Sommelier to ones that help track the wine in your cellar and can handle a collection of 3000 bottles or more.


Lis has long had the LCBO app and loves it.  I recently put it on my iphone and I’m amazed at all it does…you can browse by product (we’ll say wine of course), select a category like red wine, a country, a region and find all the wines they have in stock (brilliant).  You can  search by keyword (wine type like Merlot, Cabernet, Shiraz etc.), find the closest store and last but not least scan the bar code on a bottle to get the price, tasting notes and serving suggestions.  You can even save it as a favourite so if you forget the name of the wine you drank and loved, next time you go to the store it’s right there on your smartphone (God Bless technology).

For those living in Quebec the SAQ has a similar app and scanning the barcode will bring up all the wine info. This one has more complete tasting notes and also has a great feature where you can plug in the food you plan to eat and it will find you a wine match.

Lis often travels between Ontario and Quebec and likes the SAQ better as an app, though admits to using the LCBO one more – ok a lot more – but says it’s just because she lives here.

Wine spectator app – is alright but really for the more advanced wine drinker. A lot of their products are not available here, but their library of reviews is vast. Rarely use the app, but the web site is terrific.

Wine spectator Napa – app wine porn – fantastic guide to Napa wineries if you are heading there.

Bottlenotes – brought to you by the around the world in 80 sips ladies. I don’t use the app often, but I do enjoy their news letter.

Natalie Maclean – I find this is only useful for wines currently at the LCBO. Not a lot of detail, can’t say I use it all that often. (Updated with new information http://wp.me/p2KSbj-oS)

"Drinking Mirror" App
“Drinking Mirror” App

Lastly something a little different that was recently in the news, an app called “Drinking Mirror” created by the Scottish government showing women how their looks will change if they should continue to drink heavily.  This is meant to get women to stop binge drinking by appealing to their vanity rather than telling them about the health implications.  Asking “is drinking aging you?” the app lets you take your photo, enter your weekly alcohol consumption and then see a computer generated image of toll too much alcohol could take on your appearance.  I tried and it wasn’t a pretty site (kind of why I work behind the camera rather than in front of it). This one is something fun for a girls night out.

There’s so many more apps and if you have a great one to share we would love to hear from you.

Great Wine Reads

I’m a big reader – there are always 2-3 (more like 4-5) books on the go on my night table. There are magazines and another couple of books in the bathroom, on the coffee table and always one in my gym bag (sometimes it takes me a little longer to read that one). because I never know when I’ll have a few minutes or 20. After I took a wine class, the need and desire to learn more about what I’m drinking has led to a growing wine collection – not just the text book variety which, I learned the hard way, are always required to weigh at least 10 kgs. Here are some fun and fast  favourites that are worth making their way to a reading spot near you.

Educating Peter

Educating Peter: How I Taught a Famous Movie Critic the Difference Between Cabernet and Merlot or How Anybody Can Become an (Almost) Instant Wine Expert by Lettie Teague

If you love movies and love wine – this book is fun quick read by Lettie Teague who writes a terrific column for the Wall Street Journal. She takes on the challenge of teaching the elements of wine to  Peter Travers (no relation), the long-time film critic for Rolling Stone magazine whose favourite wine is a flabby Chardonnay. This is not wine school. This is a fun ride through varietals, regions, peppered with analogies to movies and movie makers.  It won’t change your life, but it will have you wishing to have Lettie Teague as a teacher when you look at the wines they sampled together – simple little bottles from the $599 Harlan Estate to a $4000 bottle of Screaming Eagle. And where else would you find out what Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese and Peter Jackson pick from the wine list?

Red, White and Drunk All Over

Red, White and Drunk All Over by Natalie Maclean

Now I LOVED this book. Natalie Maclean, Queen of www.nataliemaclean.com,  takes you on a journey of her wine experiences while making you lust after some of her stops along the way. COME ON, she tours Domaine Romanee Conte – which ONLY  produces one of (if not THE) greatest Burgundies of all time with owner Aubert de Villaine. She spends a few days in the fields with one of California’s most colourfull wine makers Randall Grahm – founder of Booy Doon Wines. He describes himself as a vinarchist and  “champion of the ugly-duckling grapes” which is one of the reasons he became known as a Rhone Ranger. And that’s just the first two chapters.  What I really liked about this book, is Maclean’s approachable style.  Each chapter is  a great experience with lots of information thrown in. It is educational – but not dull or intimidating in any way.  Honestly, by a few pages in  you just wanted to be riding shotgun on that adventure.

A Hedonist in the Cellar

A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine by Jay McInerney

Jay McInerney exploded on to the bestseller list (and on to my night table) with Bright Lights, Big City in 1984. Now one of my go-to sites on Saturday morning is the Wall Street Journal where he writes a wine column.  There’s nothing stuffy about this collection of essays from McInerney’s days as a wine columnist for House and Garden magazine.  McInerney blends his extensive wine knowledge with his ability to tell a great story. It’s so well written that there are descriptions imprinted in my memory. Who else would describe  the notoriously difficult Pinot Noir Grape as ” the source of  more heartbreak  and tears than country music radio “?  His essays take you around the world:  from the most modest wine store – where the writer was first exposed to the joy of wine  to a restaurant table  in Italy for a chat with Angelo Gaja – one of the greatest

living wine makers. It’s no wonder Salon has called McInerney,  the best wine writer in the U-S.

So many to choose from

There are so many more great wine books out there. And coming soon will be a few suggestions on books about wine pairings (a couple are still on the night table). But just writing about these ones has made me want to read them all over again!