Let’s go out for digital dinner

On: September 16, 2014
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About Wouter Klaase


iOS Application developpers seem to learn fast from each other these days; in a short amount of time, many applications for pairing wine with a main dish have been developped and its content has been extended. For example, on the application market were vivion, drync, hellovino and delectable, all designed to help the customer choose a wine that can be recommended with a specific main dish.

But again a new wine app is launched, called Whatwine, and according to its developpers, Cedric Maloux and Matthew Gerner, the improvement is that it can scan the wine card of a restaurant. This makes it possible to decide your wine before you order a bottle, instead of scanning the brand after you ordered and (and many times paid) the bottle of wine, which was the case with the other apps.

To explain the working of the app briefly: they all make use of a digital database, for example Snoothmedia, specialized in detailed information about drinks and food. When you order a glass or bottle of wine, you can use one of the applications to research the brand: by typing the name or using OCR technology, you can easily get information of the specific wine and the recommended kinds of food with it (fish, wild, vegetarian etc.).

As Steve O’Hear explains in his article about Whatwine on Techcrunch, the new challenge for Maloux and Gertner was to make an App that could scan a wine list. As developper Maloux explains, the problem was to overcome ‘technical obstacles involved with scanning and interpreting any wine list regardless of font, layout, background colour etc.’ Together with Salsita Software  they managed to finish the App, and the result can be found on whatwineapp.com.

The goal of Maloux and Gertner was to make food and wine pairing as easy and comfortable as possible; the only thing a customer has to do is to scan the wine card and use the app. Sounds like I can have the perfect combination of wine and dish next time, and have a comfortable dinner. But what I want to do now is to imagine going out for dinner using WhatWine, just to see how it practically works.

Me and my partner make a reservation, and when we enter the restaurant we are brought to our table. Imagine that my partner is really interested in wines. She does not need the advice of the waiter, she can use the Whatwine app on her smartphone, containing ‘Foursquare‘s API’ to select the location that we are right now: when other Whatwine users have already been at this restaurant, the wine card is already in the App. If we are the first Whatwine users in the place, the OCR technology on her smartphone can be used to scan the wine card that is on the table or that the waiter will soon bring to us.

After scanning, the following menu will appear:


We will take a look at the dinner card we just received from the waiter, and I will take the beef burger. I use the app to select Beef, and as shown above, I will probably choose the Cabernet Sauvignon or the Pinot Noir. My partner takes a vegetarian dish, but this category does not exist in the database. The solution for this is to ask the waiter what kind of wine is recommend with that dish.

Based on this thought experiment it can be argued that the way people will make use of information technologies during daily routines as going out for dinner will change in the coming years. As Applications contain more information, the way we gather information about our drinks and food is already changing. Instead of asking the sommelier, people can choose  to figure out information of pairing wine and food themselves.

Interesting about this is that it might have consequences for the job market. On an academic level, authors like Karim Sabbagh argue that ‘Digitization creates jobs, with a 10 point increase in the digitization score leading to a 1.02 percent drop in the unemployment rate’. (Sabbagh, 36). When we apply the term ‘digitization’ to the example of information databases about wine, it could be argued that  more jobs are indeed created with the need to gather and select all information about wines that is available at the moment, and also, more jobs in the iOS Application development are becoming available, because there is more demand for Applications. But on the other hand, it can also be argued that waiters will become unnecessary in the future, because more and more information about the wine and food card can be individually gathered right at the moment of having dinner at a certain location.

The job market of this sector will certainly change in the future,  And different databases gathering information about wines will have to compete or work together with each other in the future. Will we have a totally digitized & waiterless dinner in the near future?



O’Hear, Steve. “WhatWine scans a restaurant’s wine list to pair your dish with the the right one”. Techcrunch. 2014. 13 September 2014 <http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/10/whatwine> .

Sabbagh, Karim, et al. “Digitization for economic growth and job creation: Regional and industry perspectives.” The Global Information Technology Report. 2013 (35-42). 14 September 2014 <http://www.digital.je/media/Secure-Strategic-Documents/WEF%20-%20Global%20Information%20Technology%20Report%20-%202013.pdf#page=59> .




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