Monday, 17 March 2014

Digital Drinking: Plonk App

There aren't enough wine apps out there aimed at young people, and people who aren't snobby about which bottle to drink, but I was pretty chuffed when I discovered Plonk last week.

Plonk is an app designed by the wine company Bibendum, and in terms of an easy-to-use, unfussy app you can use in the supermarket, it ticks a lot of boxes:

1. Firstly, yes, it is free. And it's available on both the App store, the Android store AND the Windows Phone store. Accessibility - tick.

2. Design: Modern without being OTT, easy to navigate, a fresh, clean feel with a pleasing colour scheme and simplicity. Looks good? Tick.

3. Functionality: There are six functions in total. These are:

  • Grapes A-Z: Not every grape every, obviously, but most of the important ones are included. I was a little surprised not to see cinsault, muscadet or verdicchio, but there were some I'd never even heard of like arneis and inzolia, which made for good learning. It's laid out alphabetically in a sort of periodic table design, which I liked.

    Each entry gives a paragraph of info about the grape style and where it's grown, a 'Did you know' fact box, and a suggestion of another similar grape to try - brilliant for branching out your wine tastes!

    The highlight for me, however, was the pronunciation tool! Every grape has it, so you can march into your nearest snooty wine merchant and demand your grape of choice with confidence.
  • Tried & Tested: I wasn't sure why this was here, really. I think it's a list of the most commonly used grapes? It's just the same info as in the Grapes section, though...
  • New & Interesting: Same as before, but a list of grapes you might not have tried. Quite cool if you're looking to explore.
  • Wine & Food: It looks like this is a bit of a short, restrictive list, but it's not as disappointing as I first thought. There are only 14 items, with general headings like 'pasta' and 'cheese', but the information included does diversify into wider choices, e.g tomato pastas vs creamy pasta vs. garlic and pesto pasta.

    Under each heading, there's a paragraph of text and a list of grape varieties you could choose. It's okay, especially if you're looking for very general information, but don't expect anything too detailed. There are much better food and wine matching sites out there - such as The Wine Society's Food and Wine Matcher.
  • By Country: Here's where I felt things fell a bit flat. The grape variety information is so great, but it's there are a few grapes grown in dozens of countries (merlot, chardonnay and the like) so this section seemed a bit pointless for them. Also, Hungary is the world's biggest producer of pinot grigio, but it only lists furmint under the Hungary section... I couldn't really see a use for it.
  • Wine styles: Good if you're looking to find out more about a specific region, such as Beaujolais, or if you've heard of Pouilly-Fume and Pouilly-Fuisse and don't know the difference, but it's really only the very best-known regions that are featured. Definitely great for beginners.

4. How is it handy for me? Well, as well as being a really good list where even wine geeks will discover something new, there's also the added bonus of a 'Top Rated' section which will list the grapes you've 'starred' and given a mark out of five. Really good to keep track of new things you've tried.

5. Overall rating?
It really is a snobbery-free, informative and enthusiastic app with a lot of different options. I hope future editions will include a few more grapes varieties and food matches, but other than that I'm wholeheartedly impressed. Go forth and download!

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