You’ve seen them before. The preservation systems—located behind the bar at many establishments—that keep wines at ultimate freshness. Or maybe you’ve seen them at innovative wine shops like Bacchus and Union Square Wines in New York City or Cork in Dallas, where people taste before they buy. The handy oxygen-sucking “Enomatic” technology has been around for some time but now it’s taking on a new form: it’s becoming the bar itself. Serve-yourself wine bars, such as the two featured below, are sprouting up across the country, allowing patrons to taste on their own—the swipe of a tasting card is all that’s required.
Sandwiched between culinary kings Masa and Per Se in the Time Warner Center in New York is Clo, a swanky 75-seat serve-yourself station that’s run by a group of master sommeliers. Though customers can sample unique sips on their own, a sommelier is always on hand, as is the virtual wine educator, a touch screen table that helps patrons make their selections. Wines are dispensed in 4 oz. pours and a selection of around 100 wines is available at any given time. It’s a great chance for people to try odd bottlings like Rkatsiteli or wines from Brazil, without committing to a full bottle.
Further south, Evo Bistro in Mclean, Virginia offers 50 wines by the glass from its Enomatic system, paired with tapas from around the world like stuffed sweet Spanish peppers and salmon with artichoke-goat cheese ravioli. Customers can sample a $75 glass of Penfolds Grange if so inclined, or stick with more affordable small-production wines.
Be on the lookout for one of these sampling paradises to spring up near you.