The New York Times just wrote about a wonderful little innovation in the restaurant trade by Bone restaurant in Atlanta who have started to use ipads in place of traditional leather bound wine lists. In my mind, this is a great idea, although with a few hiccups to work through.
Many wine consumers are too intimidated to ask a sommelier or lack enough immediate knowledge to inform a sommelier what they feel like. With a device like the iPad a consumer has access to reams of information without having to fear sounding stupid. And, once that consumer has gained confidence they can dialogue with the sommelier more effectively.
While some sommeliers worry that the iPad would take away personalization, in my mind, if a wine program was developed effectively in its electronic mode, it would rather increase and augment personal connection and make the experience much more enjoyable. Bone has certainly seen the benefits with 11% more wine sales and customers generally spending more money on wine than usual.
The downside, of course, is that with ready access to big publications and Parker points, etc. consumers could lose the experience of wine and food that a sommelier spends so much time creating and instead feast upon the easy understandability of the 100 point scale. Of course, a good restaurant could simply design a personalized electronic wine program for its customers that would avoid all of that nonsense. On the other hand, if customers got used to seeing Parker points for every wine on a wine list, they might start demanding access to these points of other establishments.
However, this is but a possible problem attached to the many other benefits that iPad wine lists could bring. Let’s see if anyone picks this up in Vancouver.
The full article is here.