Last week, MNN ran a story about the Natalie MacLean Wine Picks & Pairings app. It’s the first app of its kind that allows consumers to scan bar codes on wine bottles. The app is available for iPhone users and may soon be available for Blackberry users, too.

Here’s how the app works. After scanning in the bar code, the app takes you to information about the wine — ratings, tasting notes and pairing suggestions — if the wine is in the database. Most of us have stood in front of a shelf like the one pictured above, wondering how on earth to begin to chose a bottle if the choices aren’t ones we’re familiar with. An app like this, if done correctly, could go a long way in solving that problem.

Obviously, not every wine can be in the database. I was curious about how useful the app would be for organic wines. I went to the wine section of my local Wegmans and I scanned the bar codes of nine wines that I know are organic or sustainably farmed.

Of the nine wines, the app couldn’t identify five of them. Of the four that were identified, three of them had limited information, basically pairing notes for the varietal but no specific ratings or tasting notes.

The one organic wine with the most information was Bonterra Cabernet Sauvignon, but the app didn’t have the correct year. I scanned in a bottle of 2009. The app led me to a 2007 bottle with tasting notes and a rating. Judging by the information for the bottle that worked, I could see how this app could be very helpful — if the database included more of the types of wines that I like to drink, meaning wines from wineries that take sustainability seriously.

The app is free so there is no financial risk if you download it, but it might not have the wines your searching for in its database yet. The app is very popular, so I assume the database will continue to grow.

Bottom line: Go ahead and download the app and give it a shot yourself. The scan function works easily, and the app was quick to bring up available information. However, you won't want rely on this app to help you make choices if you’re looking for organic or sustainable wines. 

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