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February 13, 2001

WINESCORE Ė IF YOU CANíT TAKE A WINO TO DINNER, THIS IS THE NEXT BEST THING

While Wino John may know how to design and build gadgets and Wino Bob has refined wine taste buds at a world class level, I have honed my skills at evaluating and purchasing gadgets of all kinds months and years before anyone else procures them.  Of course, being a trailblazer can be expensive, but itís nice to have the techno rep particularly when you partied through college rather than suffering through the Plasma Physics courses that Wino John took.

I was perusing through the many wine catalogs that I receive each month (canít be a wino or techno geek without being on everyoneís mailing list) and saw a product that appeared to combine my techno hobby with my wine hobby.  In the December Wine Enthusiast catalog, a product called WineScore (www.winescore.com) was advertised.  According to the literature, WineScore has the ratings stored for over 8,000 wines and is a program that you install on your Palm Pilot, so you can carry it into a fine restaurant.  At $24.95 (list), I thought this might be an application that some of our fledgling winos could use to boost their standing when forced to order wine for a customer, date, or family member.  So, I ordered the product (on sale at $19.95) and gave it a whirl.

I bought my copy of Winescore, site unseen, at www.wineenthusiast.com
However, after loading my software, which required a visit to www.winescore.com, I found that you can download a free version of
Winescore.  The download will allow you to run Winescore on your Palm for 14 days until you need to pay for it in order to receive the unlock key.  Just go to Buy Now and follow the directions.  No credit card number is required until you want to unlock it.

My Winescore software came on a CD.  Preprinted instructions on the CD refer you to the readme.txt file thatís located on the CD for installation directions.  Within a few minutes of printing those instructions, I had Winescore installed.  During the installation, I found out that I was receiving a 14 day grace period to register my software.  If I did not register the software and receive the permanent key (tied to my personal name registration in the Palm Pilot, the software would not be usable.  This clever system is designed so that I donít hand the CD to Wino John and Wino Bob and let them install it on their Palm Pilots (well, Wino John has a Palm Pilot, Iím not sure about Wino Bob.  His might have drowned in a glass of Chardonnay).  At $24.95, everyone should be able to afford Winescore (and maybe expense it on your expense account if you work for Wino Bob!).

Wine Score has designed a simple, but effective program.  Included on the current database are West Coast American wines and French wines.  Only wines produced over the past 8 years are included (so you canít rate most of the good stuff in Wino Bobís cellar, but how many of you get to go there!).  Winescore uses the combination of public wine tastings/ratings such as Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, the Wine Advocate, a bunch of famous raters including the French government and their own ratings (over 20 years of experience).  A simple scale from 1-10 is employed and is listed below. 

               

                1                Don't even think about it

                2                A below average, jug type wine

                3                An average wine

                4                A better than average wine

                5                A good wine

                6                A very good wine

                7                An exceptional wine

                8                A very exceptional wine

                9                A superb wine

      10               A world class wine

No gadget is a good gadget until you can put it through its paces and achieve success.  I decided to test the Winescore gadget by looking at the scores and comparing them to Wino Bobís ratings.  Thatís where the first shortfall appeared.  Wino Bob has rated a few Italian wines.  Italian wines are not included in the database at this time.  Thatís a real shame.  I can claim a fairly comprehensive knowledge of California wines and Oregon wines and am able to hold my own with the French reds and German whites.  However, I donít know much about the Italians and would love to have a database that rates them (if youíre reading this at Winescore, take heed!).  The second shortfall was with the eight year limitation.  I can live with that shortfall, but winos with big budgets and equally large egos will have to hire Wino Bob for a review of wines older than eight years.  The third shortfall was a techno shortfall that could be corrected (but how much it would cost to correct, I donít know).  When I clicked on the Arrowood Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (a 9 rating), the program provides me with a listing of the varietals which Arrowood produces.  I tried to click on the Chardonnay hoping that the program would take me to the Arrowood Chardonnay and its rating, but no dice.  Adding that feature would save several steps in the program.  The fourth and final shortfall is that the wine rating is an average rating and not a rating for a particular year.  Thus, Arrowoodís Reserve rating of 9 is an average.  The system provides a rating scale for California Cabernetís by year (and other major varietals as well) but not a rating for each year specific to a brand.

In summary, the Winescore software is a handy rating device.  It wonít take the place of an expert like Wino Bob (see Bob, you still have a night job), but itís a great way to give you a feel for selecting a wine youíre unfamiliar with.  Obviously, any Arrowood Cabernet on a restaurant menu would be a good choice under the softwareís rating guide.  Between the French wines and the American West Coast wines, almost all of the varietals are included (Sangiovese, dessert, Meritage, etc. to name a few).  Wino Bob will be pleased to hear that White Zinfandel is not listed as a varietal.  I found this so useful that I donít intend to hide it during my next occasion to order wine in a restaurant.  I plan to announce that Iíve procured this new toy and want to see how good it is by ordering a wine with which Iím not familiar.  Iíll let you know if I experience any difficulty with this strategy.  For those of you willing to take a Wino to dinner, weíre all available.

 


 

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