I’ll admit that I don’t use my Echo Dot nearly as much as I probably could be using it — but I did just stumble upon a neat little life hack via Fast Company that might inspire me to wake the thing up a little more often: It turns out that you can use Amazon’s Alexa to find the perfect wine pairing for virtually every meal. It’s all thanks to an Alexa Skill called Wine Finder. Developed by Bloop Entertainment, it’s not a fancy app; however, it does exactly what it says on the tin — and if you’re not totally sure what to drink with dinner tonight, it might be just what you need.
There are a lot of Skills filed under the Wine & Beverages category of the Alexa Skill store. Not all of them are designed to do the same thing, of course; heck, not all of them even have anything to do with wine, for that matter. But among the Skills meant to help you learn about wine, the pickings are slim — and most of them don’t have terribly favorable reviews. Wine Finder, however, tops the bunch; it’s matched only by a few other related Skills, like Wine Lifestyle. But while Wine Lifestyle is meant to function as sort of a school of wine, Wine Finder’s beauty lies in its simplicity: All it does is match your food of choice with a type of wine that will likely pair well with it.
To enable Wine Finder on your Echo or Alexa-enabled device, you can either download it directly from the web here, or search for it within the Alexa app and enable it there. Then, to use it, just say your wake word, followed by, “Open Wine Finder.” You’ll know the Skill has booted up when you hear what sounds like a wine glass being tapped by a knife or fork. Then, once Alexa finishes giving you a brief introduction go ahead and ask it what wine goes well with whatever you're nomming.
Having sushi? Alexa will suggest sauvignon blanc. Noshing some French fries? Chardonnay is on the list of suggestions. Having a piece of chocolate for dessert? Pair it with a glass of Syrah. Wine Finder has a database of more than 500 food and wine pairings, so unless you’re asking about something really, really specialized, the Skill will likely have an idea or two for you.
As Lifehacker points out, if you’re already fairly well-versed in what kinds of wines pair well with which types of food, you might not learn a whole lot you don’t already know from Wine Finder. However, the app still might still suggest something you might not have thought of. For example, when I asked Wine Finder what wine goes well with pizza, it suggested both an obvious choice and a less obvious one: Chianti — a wine with which I’m quite familiar and therefore already know is dynamite with pizzas that are heavy on tomatoes or tomato sauce — and barbera, which isn’t something for which I typically reach.
Described by Vine Pair as “an every-day affordable stunner,” barbera looks dark, but tastes quite light; its notes include lots of red fruits and berries, like strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries. Chianti, too, is a lighter red with lots of berry notes — but it’s much higher in tannins than barbera is, which means barbera is actually a better match for richer foods. Color me intrigued; the next time I’m looking for a bottle of red for pizza night, I might just opt for a barbera instead of one of my usual picks.
Wine Finder won’t recommend wines from specific wineries or vineyards, so you’ll need to do a little more legwork if you’re not sure exactly which bottle of whatever you should pick up the next time you’re at the store; luckily, though, Wine Folly has a ton of handy guides to different kinds of wines, so once Wine Finder has made a recommendation for you, you can head to Wine Folly both to find out more about the variety and to learn which bottles are worth your time and money. Wine Finder itself is totally free, too, so all you need to educate yourself on wine pairings is access to the internet.
Check out the Skill here. Cheers!