Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 6.
Author Robert Louis Stevenson once said that "wine is bottled poetry."
That's because there's a built-in romance to wine. The tranquil image of grapes on the vine, the aroma of that first glass when you inhale, the joy of sharing a bottle in front of a fire.
And because of those sensual images, the industry has been slow to change.
"There's a constant tension between tradition and technology," says Chris Cooney, winemaker at Dana Estates, in Napa Valley, Calif.
Whether it's in the vineyard or in the way you actually select a wine, the wine world has been very slow to incorporate technology.
Part of the problem has been "they believe if it ain't broke, don't fix it," says Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a Master of Wine.
A bigger issue is economics. "Smaller vineyards just don't have the extra money to buy high-tech equipment," says Cooney.
Still, it's finally happening. From inventory management to wine recommendations, technology is infiltrating the sector.
And while many producers are still slow to adapt to it, wine drinkers are craving it.
"Technology is in the wine space, like or not," says Simonetti-Bryan, who is also a partner at Wine Ring, an app that helps you pick a wine based on your preferences. "And it puts the power firmly and literally in the hands of the consumer."
So where can you expect "wine tech" in 2017?
Wine drinkers constantly are looking for ways to remember the wines they liked and get advice from peers about wines they may taste. So crowd-sourcing review apps like Delectable and Vivino have done well (though they can't figure out how to make money) but are sometimes too broad-based.
If you're fortunate enough to have a cellar, CellarTracker is the go-to app. Created by Eric LeVine, an ex-product manager at Microsoft, as a way to keep track of his own cellar, it follows your inventory, calculates its present value and offers user reviews.
And the next time you go to a restaurant, don't be surprised if you're handed an iPad that details the wine list.
Uncorkd's iPad app not only helps the consumer make good decisions, but the data collected can also help the restaurant owner better understand the inventory, says CEO Josh Saunders. That's because Uncorkd supplies information to the wine directors so they can get a sense of what bottles are selling or sitting.
So What to Expect this Year? More personalized selections. Expect your favorite app to do a better job of homing in on your tastes.
We also probably will see consolidation within apps and more partnerships with other retailers. For instance, Drync, a delivery app, has partnered with eBay, which is allowed to sell certain wines. So Drync users will have access to more retailers. (Though as we mentioned before, the interstate shipping laws are in flux, so this perk may not last too long.)
Just beware of bias when you are using any of these apps. If the app also sells wine, it's not unbiased and should say so.