Tools to take wine tasting notes with

While not a tasting note for wine, I thought this blog post might be useful to some folks.

For years I attended wine events, structured tasting and the like and taken paper notes. I have a drawer of them. They were less than useful after I got home. To put things in perspective at the recent California Wine fair in Toronto I managed to taste 50 wines in 3 hours and came out with detailed reviews on them all! My attention eventually went to looking for ways to take digital notes. But taking a laptop with a keyboard to an event just seemed impractical (not to mention looking like an uber geek, which I am :)). Even a netbook is just too big for walk around tastings. And without notes I found it hard to remember all the subtle nuances of the wines from the event to be able to write them up. (Click on the links for my detailed reviews on the devices) My attention first went to Samsung note 8 Android tablet which uses a Wacom digitized pen to allow accurate digital notes. The 8″ size is perfect for tastings. I replaced the stock pen with an upgraded pen that felt more like a real pen in the hand and even includes an eraser on the end. I quickly ran into a need to find a better program to take the notes in. The built in Samsung app, while good, lacked a lot of features like hand writing to text, searchable hand writing and the like. I went through a detailed review of apps to take digital notes and landed on Microsoft One Note (which is free by the way). One Note is cross platform (Android, Windows, Web portal and Apple) It includes features like convert hand writing to text, convert image to text (OCR), notes are searchable, can back end upload your notes to the cloud (to make them available on multiple devices anywhere) and many other features. Sadly the Android version of One Note on eventually discovered is severely handicapped in what it can do. I then found an Asus VivoTab Note 8 Windows tablet. I bought one on ebay inexpensively ($200) and was able to use my upgraded pen. This device is perfect. Great size and weight, reasonable battery life, great pen experience, and since it is on real Windows has all the One note features. This device is great and has truly revolutionized how I take my wine notes.

There are other pen enabled devices like the Microsoft Surface. The Surface is pricey, and too large for walk around tastings but the pen experience seems very good (I haven’t spent much time with one at this point). There’s also the Dell Venue 10 which also has an excellent pen, but again is a bit too large for walk around tastings.

So now you my readers can get more and more reviews, with more accuracy. Since starting to take notes this way I have had so many people come up to me faced with the same challenge. I hope you’ve enjoyed this post. It’s a short version of what has take me on a 2 year journey, a quest!

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