You scoured the wine menu and found your perfect match. The sommelier presses the correct combination of buttons — it’s really only two; the system is incredibly user-friendly. Then, the wine case’s backlight dims slowly and dramatically, save for the spotlight on the uncommon bottle you’ve chosen to savor a rare single glass of. It glows, tantalizingly, like a prize. Leave it to technology to make expanding your own wine education possible without emptying your wallet on $100 bottles or the ever-risky argument over which $100 bottle to commit to. Is this the sleek, stainless steel future of the wine bar?
When you’re the only restaurant in NYC in possession of the Enomatic wine system, an investment Italian restaurant and wine bar Bocca di Bacco proudly boasts four of at each location, offering over 40 selections by the glass suddenly seems much less risky. Bocca di Bacco wine director John Semchyshyn, a native of Manitoba, Canada, is certified by the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and has been studying wine for over 20 years. It was his decision to use the Enomatic system to ensure that Bocca’s 500-bottle wine list is both preserved and served perfectly, down to the last drop.
“These Enomatic machines are brought in from Tuscany, so if they do break down you’re waiting for parts from Italy. But we haven’t had any problems — they’re very user-friendly,” says Semchyshyn, dispensing a half-glass for me from a bottle of Montepulciano you’d never see by the glass. The reds are organized by where in Italy they’re from, from Piemonte to Sicily, north to south. Did someone say “Taste Of Italy” flight?
Enomatic units have sensor-pedestals that elevate a wine bottle of any height right up to the seal, where the magic happens. “After it creates a seal, the air over the surface area of the wine is sucked out and replaced by argon gas so there’s no oxygen touching the wine, and therefore no oxidation.” says Semchyshyn.
The fancy gauges on each machine measure gas pressure (both oxygen and argon), temperature and size of pour. A tasting is just an ounce, which they’ll gladly dispense so you’re not stuck with a $25 glass of wine you’re not crazy about, then there’s the half-glass three-ounce pour for tasting flights and the full six-ouncer. So what could the cons possibly be? Cleanup? Nope. “Every night we clean the nozzles by placing them in a little carafe of hot water for a few seconds. Once about every three weeks we rinse the tubes that go down into the bottles, and that’s that. They do take up a lot of real estate behind the bar, but we’re a wine bar.” Each Enomatic unit runs about $25,000 a pop, import taxes included.
Sadly for the robot world, the Enomatic isn’t the fully automated answer to the cost of staffing a wine professional. But until they can invent a machine that can suggest a nice Montepulciano by the glass (depending on what you’re eating, of course) and tell a charming story about an elderly wine scholar in the process, the man behind the machine is still essential. Kinda makes you want to throw away that barely corked half-bottle you’ve had for…how many weeks now?
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