Olly Smith saying for a limited time you could buy his app for £1.79. So I did. I downloaded it onto my mac and when I got into work (a wine shop) I loaded it onto my iPhone and had a look. You are greeted by a video of Smith in his "Wine HQ", and then you get taken to a menu which is a series more-camp-than-a-field-full-of-Scouts of Smith looking holding signs with the relevant menu title on. I realised then that every wine critic has a similar media character to be related to. Jancis is Anne 'Weakest Link' Robinson, Michael Broadbent is David Attenborough, and Olly Smith occupies the Dale Winton role.
But I digress, I noticed that there was a "Find Wine" section and as I was sitting in a wine shop I thought I'd test it. Sure enough, there was my shop, and the two local supermarkets, but I noticed that there were more places to buy or consume wine nearby. Eager to find out the competition I clicked on one of the pins and was taken to "Strathkinness Under 5's Activity Group". Now I'm a retailer and I've had to sit a wee test to prove I know the alcohol laws, and I'm pretty certain that kids under five shouldn't be drinking wine. This needs some work it would appear.
I look to the wine guide and there is a simple, easy to understand guide to grape varieties and regions under the title "What do you usually drink". It is written in Smith's normal style ("like cuddling He-Man after he's smashed his way through a spice rack"), but is actually very useful for a wine novice. He has alternative suggestions if you like a particular wine, which although is what a wine retailer would normally do, this will be very useful for someone who shops at supermarkets where you won't be able to get any advice. The content is very video heavy, and for that you need a wi-fi connection, so it isn't really that good if you are on the move.
There is also a "What's the occasion" facility that is a bit of a cliche, and a Wines of the Week, from his Mail on Sunday column, where the suggestions are Supermarket and Majestic heavy, but again, this is for the customer who shops in these stores so that is fine.
Up to this point, we have an app that is functional for the supermarket shopper with Brand Olly all over it. And then you get to the section entitled "Larks" and I ended up wanting to put my iPhone in a blender and hitting 'go'.
Firstly, there are Olly's Words of Wisdom, where you shake your phone, then some photos of him thinking, before a 'ping' sounds and a picture of him having a 'eureka' moment appears with a message of incite like "My brother is Will Smith. Not the Hollywood rapper turned actor, the other one in The Thick of It". But by far, the most annoying thing is the Wine Horn. What can only be described as an image that looks like an alien's intestine, you blow into the microphone and a ship's horn blows before an audio recording of Smith saying things like "Lets get hectic" and "Stand and deliver - your monkey or your life" blasts out of your phone. I know I sound like an old cynic, but are people actually paid to dream up ideas like this?
But I realise that this app isn't aimed at me, it is aimed at people who won't dream of spending more than £15 on a bottle of wine and usually buy under a fiver. If you like Smith's Saturday Kitchen style and buy your wines from Supermarkets or multiples, this is a decent app for you to use. It is relevant on a week to week, with updates of his newspaper column and is a usable guide that isn't trying to sell you a product. Plus it makes wine accessible to people who think that shell suits are still the height of fashion and that, believe it or not, is a good thing. 7/10