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Elena Pahrabniak, of Ocean City, uses an app on an iPad at Bootleggers Liquor Outlet in Northfield to explain the wines being tasted Saturday.

Ben Fogletto


The days of nervously staring at a wine list and not knowing which to choose are over.

More customers are walking in more knowledgeable and more willing to try new wines, local wine experts say.

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The reason? Mobile apps.

“It’s a great tool for customers to use,” Chester Malloy, general manager of Circle Liquors Outlet in Somers Point. They help customers decide what grape-type they are looking for and makes the remaining choices — such as price range and taste — a less intimidating, he said.

“A lot of people are shy and embarrassed to ask questions,” Malloy said. “You can buy an $8 bottle if you want. We just have to get you what you are looking for.”

The apps provide information to help rate, review and suggest wines. In addition, some, like the app Hello Vino, have label recognition. This features allows the user to take a picture of the bottle’s label and results in information such as rating, reviews, food pairings and an option to save the wine in a personalized list.

One of the most popular magazines read by pros, Wine Spectator, released an app a few years ago that is the go-to app.

“I use it for ratings because it plays a lot of importance for people, and of course I can’t keep it all in my head,” said Elena Pahrabniak, who works at Bootleggers Liquor Outlet in Northfield. Pahrabniak said the technology has made her job easier when the customer comes in asking for a certain type of wine, especially if they are considering a pairing with food.

“Most of the times you want to change from beer and cocktails for a dinner, but most people are clueless. So the apps can help suggest pairings,” Pahrabniak said.

“People don’t feel as intimidated,” she said. Additionally, the apps have increased people’s enthusiasm for different or new wines, Pahrabniak said.

“People are becoming more educated and are branching out,” she said.

But Malloy isn’t worried about the apps replacing the experience of shopping with a expert.

“You can’t replace the person,” he said. The relationship isn’t replicated in the multitude of reviews and ratings by peers and wine enthusiasts, he said.

Contact Anjalee Khemlani:


Follow Anjalee Khemlani on Twitter @AnjKhem

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