App Developer Rick Breslin Welcomes All Wine Lovers with Hello Vino

App Developer Rick Breslin Welcomes All Wine Lovers with Hello Vino

Yeah, we understand. All you want is a good-tasting wine to go with that fabulous meal you just prepared. But which wine should you choose? The selections seem overwhelming in the wine aisle when all you want is a straight answer from a sommelier. Shiraz, chardonnay, pinot noir, Riesling? Don’t ruin the meal with the wrong wine!

OK, can we start with the basics of red versus white first? And stop with the fancy names!

Meet app developer Rick Breslin, wine hero extraordinaire and creator of the Hello Vino app for non-wine snobs. Based out of San Francisco, Breslin formed Hello Vino, Inc. back in 2009 for everyone that loves wine but has trouble matching foods with the delicate drink. While Hello Vino boasts “no snobs allowed,” it certainly is a showstopper complete with user reviews, customer ratings and reviews, photos, and wine-taste preferences. Try out the wine-label image-recognition feature or go for a location-based recommendation. Whatever way you choose to use this wine app, it is sure to live up to its highly rated reviews already awarded by The New York Times, NPR and Mashable.

We at The Recapp were so impressed that we got in touch with Breslin to learn just how this wonderful app came to be. We soon discovered (as will you) that it is much more than your average food-and-wine-pairing app. 

  1. Your app specifies “no wine snobs.” What was your inspiration?

    There is a huge problem in the wine industry: Shoppers are overwhelmed by the large wine selection at retail stores, or by the intimidating wine list at the restaurant. Either there is little or no assistance from retail staff, or a restaurant sommelier (i.e. wine geek) can sometimes cause more confusion when spouting off terms nobody understands, coming off "snobby.”

    Here at Hello Vino, Inc., we were inspired by the majority of wine consumers that need a simple, unpretentious and helpful resource while standing in the aisle or sitting in the restaurant. Before the Hello Vino app, there was no scalable solution for the wine industry.

  2. What was your biggest surprise during development?

    We initially developed Hello Vino as a web app in order to accommodate all smartphone users. When we launched at the Boston Wine Expo in January 2009 (in front of 15,000 New England wine consumers), we quickly learned that the smartphone experience is all about apps and customized our web app to be more mobile for both iPhone and Android devices. Apple did a nice job of drilling "There's an app for that" into our heads.

    We launched the native iPhone app in June 2009 and quickly experienced a 1200% increase in usage. Shortly thereafter, our analytics showed that the most popular food and wine-pairing request was pepperoni pizza (instead of more elegant dishes such as filet mignon or coq au vin). This was a pleasant surprise, in that we had confirmation of reaching our target audience: normal wine drinkers, not the snobs.

  3. What kind of feedback have you received from your app’s users?

    We've received excellent feedback from users in a variety of ways. The feedback is both rewarding and challenging. We love seeing our users share the app with their friends on Twitter, and it's incredibly gratifying to read the five-star reviews on iTunes. But, we also love seeing the tweets, blog posts and iTunes reviews that point out features needing attention.

    When I see a public tweet that points out a shortcoming in the app, I immediately get fired up to add or improve that feature, and I reach out personally when the issue has been addressed. I wish the iTunes App Store and Android Market would allow for that kind of feedback loop. Currently, there is no way to contact the app reviewers to address user concerns.

  4. Aside from your app, what’s the coolest app out there right now?

    It's a classic in terms of app-store existence, but Shazam is probably the coolest app that has a guaranteed "wow” factor whenever you show it off. I also think Instagram is one of the coolest for catalyzing the creation of beautiful photos and building community.

  5. What advice do you have for young app developers?

    Be prepared to spend almost 10 times the amount of money and time marketing your app as you spend developing it. The "build it and they will come" fallacy couldn't be more appropriate, with hundreds of thousands of other apps competing for users' mindshare. In addition, iterate often by publishing regular app updates—it’s an excellent way to promote user retention.

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Eating Healthy is a Snap with Dr. Oz’s App Pick

Photo credit: Getty Images

Dr. Mehmet Oz, famous cardiac surgeon and star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, spends much of his time giving nutritional guidance to his show’s viewers and patients. But we bet he never thought advice could get as simple as “take a picture of your food.”

Dr. Oz told USA TODAY that he likes the Meal Snap app. Just use your smartphone to take a photo of your food in front of you, and the app calculates how many calories you’re consuming. Bam—food recording is done.

Of course, the app is not always 100 percent accurate, but we still think the simple act of recording our food helps us be more conscious of what we’re eating. You can share your meals on Twitter, Facebook and foursquare if you want some extra motivation, and you can even view your eating patterns over time.