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Curing your wine list woes, wine apps and BYO

Posted By Robert Rees, Wednesday, 4 February 2015

From apps that analyse wine lists to restaurants with creative corkage policies, Robert Rees shares how to cure your wine list woes.

A recent survey of dodgy restaurant behaviour in the United States revealed that one of the worst issues in the field is the practice of listing unknown wine brands at unspeakable markups. The sheer number of people not questioning the quality of the wine they’re drinking and blindly paying up is enormous, and somehow needs to come to an end.

Help is potentially at hand, with the recent arrival of new online apps that are able to scan a wine list in real-time and give you the corresponding ratings from several major wine critics within seconds. With an app like this on hand, there’s really no excuse for choosing the third cheapest wine on the list and simply praying that nobody spits it out.

It is widely acknowledged by wine list ‘engineers’ that the second or third cheapest wines in a bracket on a wine list tends to enjoy the lion’s share of sales. This technology ought to go a long way in blasting this particular issue out of the water.

Another major trend – which doesn’t seem to ever show signs of going away – is the debate on corkage policy. I get it: running a restaurant without much-needed wine list revenue streams renders it tough to make ends meet. But the ever-increasing pricing transparency of wines means that people will continue to seek out venues that allow this to happen.

There are two policies adopted by the majority of outlets here in Singapore. Firstly, the one-for-one approach, where you buy a bottle from the restaurant in exchange for the right to bring one of your own. The second is free corkage on nights in the earlier part of the week when attendance is generally low. A call to the venue will usually sort it out ahead of time.

At the end of the day, I am delighted to acknowledge that some of the best times I’ve had drinking wine in Singapore have been at far simpler hawker centres, where they don’t mind if I wear my much loved drinking shorts and, so long as I bring my own corkscrew and glasses, it’s on for young and old with no extra charge at all.

Come to think of it – there’s nothing better than a quiet Sunday evening kicking back with a duet sung in perfect harmony between a cool bottle of New Zealand Pinot and a sizzling, sinfully rich plate of char kway teow made by the auntie at the end of the road. She always scolds me for drinking too much, but thoroughly enjoys the weekly ritual we’ve shared for the past seven years now.

Robert Rees works for Wine Exchange Asia (views expressed do not reflect the views of the company). Originally South African, he lived in Sydney for 10 years before moving to Singapore.

The Guide’s Wine Apps to Explore


Take a picture of a wine list with your iPhone and this impressive app will categorise the wines then allow you to click on a particular wine to view ratings, reviews, price information and food pairings.


Epicurio is a Singapore-based social media app for wine, it allows you to remember and rate wines, share recommendations and delivers wine news.


Drync for Andriod and iOS recognises wine labels that you photograph and displays the price, tasting notes, descriptions and ratings. You can also track your favourite wines and discover new wines.

Tags:  apps  corkage  Singapore  wine  wine corkage singapore apps 

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