Tech trend analysis company Technomic has indicated in its recent Bartender Quarterly report that “serve-yourself” wine stations appear to be gaining significant momentum in wine bars/restaurants across the United States.
One of their case studies, with diners at the Trifecta Grill in Winnetka, Illinois, showed wine drinkers were willing to spend more of their hard earned cash (often up-to $29 a glass) if they knew the wine had been stored in a WineStation, and therefore preserved correctly.
“Operators have found that they can actually sell a greater volume of more expensive, unique or finer wines when the guest has the opportunity to explore on their own. In retail environments, guests also for the first time have the opportunity to try before they commit to a purchase,” said Jayne Portnoy, Vice President, marketing and brand strategy, Napa Technology.
87% of people stated they are more willing to order an expensive wine by the glass that would otherwise be cost prohibitive by the bottle. A further 76%of business surveyed stated that consumption of wines by the glass has increased over the past year (presumably due to economic conditions).
Let me cut to the chase: I LOVE new technology, I’m a HUGE nerd for it.
I’ve had the chance to play around with these wine stations a little over the past few years. My stance is that whilst I can say I’m a fan of what they’re trying to achieve, I can’t say that I’m 100% in favor of wine bars who SOLELY rely on their use i.e. without any human interaction.
The main flaw in the plan with wine bars who choose to go “100% automated” is that they need to have someone (human) ring you up for your wine card, which is to be then used in the machines to dispense your vino. The unfortunate thing is that this human usually holds about as much wine knowledge as a Nomacorc.
There is NO WAY you can base a business around throwing a bunch of wine machines into a building and have some 19 year old Muppet, who isn’t able to answer any of your wine questions, or even consume wine legally, ringing people up. It won’t work.
It’s called HOSPITALITY for a reason. I don’t want some bloody robot pouring my glass of wine. I at least want the CHOICE of dealing with a human. A human who knows what they’re doing.
To this end, I still think that there’s a solid future ahead for these “things.” Train stations, airports, areas with high levels of foot traffic etc., would all be ideal locations for self-service wine stations. The key is to integrate them into the service environment. Not have them try and replace the “human element” and wine training altogether.