Now the sommelier is mechanical
Not that long ago, shopping for wine meant trusting the advice of the merchant, or going by Robert Parker’s review.
But usually, you could forget the luxury of a taste test, unless you were attending a special event or were out at a North Fork winery.
Enter the Enomatic machine. The high-tech, Italian wine-dispensing devices are popping up around the city.They are doling out tastes at Columbus Circle Wines & Spirits, Union Square Wines and Bacchus.
There’s even a wine bar in the Time Warner Center, Clo, where wine is dispensed solely from Enomatic machines.The sleek machines hold numerous wine bottles, with digital numbers displayed above each bottle. At the wine shops, the numbers represent the number of “credits” needed for each tasting; at Clo, they represent the per-glass price (You pay for all your glasses at the end of the night, when you turn in a card with your balance.) To use the machines, you simply insert a card at the top, press a button and wine pours down from a spigot into your glass. Unlike bars, the wine stores can not sell the tastings, because of state liquor laws. Instead, customers receive a debit-like tasting card for free with any purchase. With each subsequent purchase, more tasting credits are added to the card.
Each taste is one ounce, the legal limit.
At Union Square Wines, each card comes stocked with 500 free credits, and an additional five credits are added to the card for each dollar spent at the store. Tastes cost between 12 and 25 credits, though some higher-end bottles yield higher numbers.At Bacchus, you also receive 500 free credits with your card, and then accrue one point for every $1 spent. The machines first emerged in the city at Union Square Wines, and raised concerns that minors could take advantage of them. A state Liquor Authority looked into them, and ruled them secure. “The safety and monitoring attributes offered by a human dispenser are matched, and even exceeded by those of the Enomatic equipment,” according to the findings.
Plus, the machines have represented an uptick for the stores. Employees say they find more people trying new wines and buying them as well.