A text message system has been devised to help consumers check wine prices and availability in the US.

By texting the vintage and name of a wine to WineZap, the division of US company WineCommune will respond with a listing of the current high, low and average price for that wine. If the text message includes a US zip code, the response will include the name, 'phone number and pricing of nearby wine retailers offering that wine.

"WineZap Mobile gives consumers a huge advantage in their wine purchasing," said Michael Stajer, CEO of WineCommune. "Most wine buying still happens in wine shops and supermarkets. With our service, you can see a wine at a store, send a text message and find out right away if it is a good price. You can even see a list of other nearby retailers and their pricing.

"People want access to product information and pricing data wherever and whenever they make purchases, not just in front of their computer."

The pricing and retailer information is from WineZap's search engine. The system collects wine pricing information from over 700 US retailers, normalises the data and aggregates it.

Moving forward, WineZap is working on a service that allows mobile phone users to send an image of a wine label and get in-depth product and pricing information.