There are over 600 wine apps in the Apple Store, and Vivino - founded in 2011 - was certainly not the first of them. But it can perhaps claim to be the best, at least if its community of 25 million users are to be believed. Between them they have contributed 75 million reviews of 12 million different wines, helping to make Vivino the world’s largest online wine marketplace.
The app - users photograph a wine label for instant reviews and pricing information - is extremely easy to use and aimed, according to Faroe Islands-born co-founder Heini Zachariassen, at casual drinkers rather than wine buffs. ‘People that love wine but don’t necessarily want to make it a hobby’.
The intention of Zachariassen and his partner Theis Sondergaard was to overcome their own inability to make an informed choice when faced by the inevitable supermarket ‘wall of wine’. ‘I want to drink better wine, but I don’t know s**t about it,’ Zachariassen has said. So Vivino makes it simple for consumers to buy better wine, without having to invest all the time and effort required to actually become an oenophile.
The app relies on proprietary image recognition technology and also provides users with tasting notes and food pairing suggestions. It can even be used to decode the infamous secrets of restaurant wine lists.
With $37m funding to date - including a $25m investment led by Moet Hennessey CEO Christophe Navarre in 2016 - Vivino has been making waves amongst industry figures as well as consumers.
The wine business is an industry worth $300bn globally in which e-commerce still plays a relatively modest part - an estimated 96% of US wine sales are still made in stores and restaurants, for example.
Zachariassen’s next move is to mine the extensive Vivino database to make personalised recommendations to users of other wines they might like to try. Because although $40m worth of wine has already been sold through the app, he reckons that potential sales are much greater. His aim - nothing less than to become the Amazon of wine, of course.