Finding the right wine to order with food requires knowledge few people possess and not all restaurants have a sommelier on their staff. WhatWine is a simple way to access information about each wine and what food it will be paired.
The Sommelier in your pocket
by: Karina Calayag
WhatWine, the wine list scanner, is a free app that lets you snap a picture of a full wine menu and receive recommendations, ratings and food pairing advises from the API of WhatWine partner, Snooth.
Unlike apps like Vivino, Drync, Hello Vino or Delectable that focus on recognizing a single wine by scanning a single label, WhatWIne is able to recognize multiple wines from a menu and help pairing it with food.
How it works.
Snap a picture of the wine menu (required only if no other users of WhatWine has been in that specific restaurant before). Once a wine menu has been saved for a specific restaurant on the app’s back-end server, any user can simply tap on the type of food listed and a digital version of the restaurant’s wine menu will appear filtered down to a select few choices based on the best wine-food combination.
WhatWine is the brainchild of co-founder and CEO Cedric Maloux, a French veteran internet entrepreneur. The 2 other co-founders are Matthew Gertner and Robert Cohen.
Chat and Q&A with Cedric Maloux:
I studied for one year in Reims, the capital of Champagne, when I was in my early twenties (I studied IT though – not related to wine). The house I was living in was above the Champagne Cellar of Ruinart, the oldest champagne house in the world (founded in 1729). This is purely anecdotal though.
Mostly, my love for wine came indeed from my grandfather, a Knight of the Chevalier du Tastevin (Wine-Tasting Cup), who would always have fantastic bottles served at his table therefor very early (as a teenager) I was exposed to great wines. The Wine-Tasting Cup is a brotherhood of wine connoisseurs (http://www.tastevin-bourgogne.com/en/) and to become a Knight you have to go through tasting training in order to be able to recognize and pair wines. It promotes the Burgundy region and its wine/cuisine (more info on the link above). I’m not a specialist as he was but I can certainly recognise a great wine thanks to him! My cousin is also the founder of http://www.votresommelier.com/ – an online wine eshop. And finally my brother-in-law’s family are cultivating grapes in the Rhone region. There are always good bottles on the table when our family sits down.
“I was sitting in a restaurant in 2009 staring at 4 pages of wine menu, incapable of making an educated decision, when the idea of WhatWine came to me. At the time, text recognition technology was not advanced enough and I left the idea behind me until last year when my friend and former AllPeers co-founder Matthew Gertner informed me he had put together a team of specialists who could tackle the problem” explains Cedric Maloux, inventor of the concept of a wine list scanner. “It’s a huge technical challenge because every wine menu has different layouts and fonts. Sometimes restaurants do not even provide enough information about the bottles available in their cellar but our engine has been trained for months with real wine menus so we are confident we can positively impact the way people choose to wine in a restaurant.”
What do you wish to achieve with WhatWine? – your mission? Success – Demystifying wine
How do you plan to accomplish this? – your strategies? By building a great app with a simple user experience. One of our strategies is to partner with restaurant owners who can’t afford a sommelier/wine steward but still want to give their patrons a great experience.
What is your vision for WhatWine? A thriving community coupled with a big data business.
Tell us about your background. Growing up. Early career to now. I grew up in Paris where I studied economics and law during the day at University and acting during evenings at an acting school. At the age of 20, I decided to study computer science and received a US master of science in computer science and a French IT engineering degree specialised in Artificial Intelligence. My first job was as a technical sales rep for a French IT startup. I then became business development manager for a large US software vendor and moved to London where I founded my first startup in 1996. Since then I have lived the startup life up to now with multiple startups I founded or joined as CEO. WhatWine is my 6th startup. I lived in London for 7 years and now have been living in Prague for 11 years.
Briefly tell us about StartUpYard for which you are Managing Director. It’s the oldest Czech startups accelerator. We help young entrepreneurs from across Europe develop their idea and grow it into a business.
What do you find fulfilling in what you do? Being useful to someone else. Making people happy makes me happy.
What is one public good that you care about and support, and why? Legalisation of marijuana. Tax the stoners, increase States’ revenue, decrease crime rate, free police resources and when use in medicine the positive documented effects of CBD (a non psychoactive component of the plant) are incredible and a big hope for a lot of sick people in multiple areas.
What are your superpower(s)? I come from a family of psychics on my father’s side. I read tarot cards and have help a lot of my friends apprehend their future.
Your weakness? I tend to be over-emotional/sensitive (which was a strength when I was studying acting!)
Who is your superhero? Alan Turing
WhatWine app is developed by Salsita Software. Launched on the iTunes App Store worldwide last September at TechCrunch Disrupt SF. It has just released Version 1.1 which is now available at: iTunes. The Android version is on the way.
Here’s what’s new in this version:
– You can now EDIT any wine that their scanner would have not recognized properly
– You can rate and add tasting notes for each wine you choose and share your opinion on Facebook
– For each wine, you can see additional information like country of origin, grapes, winery and food pairing detail.
This is the second release of WhatWine and they are already cooking the next one! Their next release will focus on making the user experience simpler and more intuitive when scanning and viewing the results.