WineGlass app makes clueless drinkers like connoisseurs

From the perfect pour to the subtle swirl, Americans love wine. In fact, last year alone, U.S. wine consumption topped $36 billion, more than any other country in the world.

Matthew Richards enjoys a good glass but admits he doesn't know much about what's inside.

"You're always afraid of committing to a big bottle that you're not gonna enjoy," Richards said, "so it's definitely one of those deer-in-the-headlights when you first are presented the wine list."

That's the problem a new mobile app tries to solve. It's called WineGlass, and it can read and explain almost any wine list, in any language.

Roddy Lindsay is a former Facebook engineer. He left that company to develop this app after spending years befuddled by bottles.

"For most of us, we sit down and we don't really know what we're doing," Lindsay said. "When I look at a wine list, my eyes would glaze over."

The app uses optical-character recognition to read the text on menus and compare it to an international wine database with details on more than one million different bottles.

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WineGlass interface
CBS News

"You can basically tap through the wines on the list," Lindsay said.

Users get a description of each variety, along with a rating and suggested price point.

"So what this allows is for normal people who haven't spent years studying wine to be able to buy that glass of wine that you know is gonna be a great wine for your own taste and budget," Lindsay said.

At a restaurant in Los Angeles, Alicia Kemper is a certified sommelier, a wine expert who's studied wines from around the world. Her job is to help people choose the best bottle from 46 different varieties.

"It can just be very confusing because people don't know all the grape varietals," said Kemper. "People don't know what the specific wines taste like."

She sees this new app as a new tool.

"The more information, the better," Kemper said. "It can really help the diner explore new wines that they might not have ever tried."

And while it costs nearly $5 to download, it's already one of the top food-and-drink apps on the mobile marketplace, proving Americans will pay a little extra to ensure the wine they pour is a wine they love.

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