Having the boss over for dinner is stressful enough without sweating over which wine to serve with the rock lobster mousse. To help turn your computer into your own resident wine snob, a dizzying array of Web sites and software programs are available. Some will not only help you choose the wine, but also deliver the appropriate quaff to your doorstep. DLT wandered the virtual vineyards to provide you with our pick of the crop.
is a great place to go for purchasing wine and wine accessories. One of their main attractions is the wine clubs -- from the neophyte's "Taste Tour" to the more adventuresome "Wine Odyssey," they're a great way to broaden your palate.
One of the established purveyors that has made a smooth transition to the online world is the UK's venerable Berry Bros & Rudd. No stuffed shirts here. Read their news updates and you'll be convinced that every day, something shocking happens in the wine world (such as the "French Wine Pill"?!). You can also order from their cellars, check out their library, track a vintage, or crib from their prestigious wine school.
Oz Clarke's Wine Guide CD-ROM ; $39.95), available for Windows and Mac, is a comprehensive and inexpensive way to quickly educate yourself about wine. The set includes videos on wine tasting, maps of the world's great wine-producing regions, as well as info on latest vintages, and a database of 500 labels. And to save you the awkwardness of soaking off your new fave label at a restaurant, try the Cork Virtual Wine Cellar ($12.99 at Digi Objects) for your PDA. This integrated database software allows you to store, retrieve, and discard your personal reviews according to a wine's category, producer, origin, vintage, price, style, rating and comments.
Whether you're a new wine enthusiast or tripping over piles of dusty crates in your basement, Robert Parker's Wine Advisor and Cellar Manager software Wine Technologies; $149.95 deluxe version) will get you organized. This robust program helps you build and manage a virtual, visual wine cellar, compare prices from thousands of producers and suppliers worldwide, and link to Parker's online Wine Advocate Newsletter. The package was developed by two wine-loving MIT grads who teamed up with Parker, the prolific oenophile and inventor of the numerical wine rating system.
If you're so into you're wine that you've gotten gadget-happy over it, you may be interested in General Electric's Profile Arctica side-by-side refrigerator GE, estimated retail price $1,699 to $2,799). This high-tech fridge will chill chablis in minutes, instead of hours (also thaws meat and makes ice faster). For spontaneous entertaining and unexpected guests, place wine or beer in the CustomCool Express Chill drawer and set the electronic control to "chill." Sit back, and share the leftover rock lobster mousse with your drop-in relatives while the wine speed-chills.