Electronic Wine Lists – Function or Fad?

Glenn Collins wrote about wireless wine lists in The New York Times this past week: “A New Best Friend for the Sommelier.” Specifically, he was talking about the touch-screen device that will be used at Tony May’s new restaurant, SD26, on East 26th Street in New York. It sounds like a great system and a practical tool for a 1,000-bottle list with prices from $34 to $3,400. Collins’ article reads as if this is the first attempt to use technology to replace hefty wine list books. Aureole Las Vegas actually debuted its eWinebook eight years ago. I used it there in 2007 and it is now employed at other Charlie Palmer restaurants. Collins’ article motivated me to research other systems and I discovered an interactive tabletop projection technology developed by Potion Design. It is currently being used by two wine bars in New York City–Adour (at The St. Regis) and Clo. Andrew Bradbury is the creator and founder of Clo and it’s no surprise that he was also the driving force behind eWinebook when he worked at Aureole. Unfortunately, I haven’t been to Clo yet, but it will certainly be on my list the next time I visit Manhattan. It is located on the same floor as Thomas Keller’s Per Se in the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle. Clo calls its system a “revolutionary multi-user, multi-touch projection menu, which allows customers to explore and easily find information on all of our available wines.” Some people may find these systems intimidating or gimmicky, and I admittedly still enjoy paging through an old fashioned wine list. There are, however, undeniable benefits from this technology. It is useful and fun to instantly sort by category or region, and access vintage and tasting notes, blends, and food pairings  Sommeliers are obviously still available at all of the above-mentioned establishments, but wine drinkers who still do not feel comfortable peppering a server or sommelier with wine questions, will welcome a friend such as eWinebook. Thanks to Mr. Collins, I was encouraged to dig for more information about electronic wine lists. It would be great to see him take the ball and run with a more comprehensive review of this important and functional technology. www.nytimes.com/2009/09/02/dining/02tside.html

~ by Thomas on September 9, 2009.

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