Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Puck Deploys iPad For Wine List

Well, it's about time.

It's been almost a decade since Charlie Palmer's Aureole at Mandalay Bay started using tablet PCs to make its gargantuan wine list more user-friendly and approachable, and a good seven years since I wrote about it in Newsweek. That was the brainchild of then-wine director Andrew Bradbury, and just two weeks ago I asked Palmer's publicist if they'd upgraded from HPs to iPads yet. She said that was coming soon.

Unfortunately, they snoozed too long. Today, Wolfgang Puck's folks announced they've got 10 iPads at CUT at Palazzo to help diners sort and learn about the 500+ selections of wine. From the press release:

The iPad displays the entire beverage list including wine selections, cocktails and spirits and is delivered to the table when guests arrive. CUT currently features 10 iPad tablets utilizing the wine application SmartCellar designed by the company Incentient. The SmartCellar system offers an interactive approach to displaying the wine list and allows sommeliers to modernize their approach to educating and arming their guests with the insight to help guide their selections and maximize enjoyment of their dining experience.

I actually had been plotting a Las Vegas Weekly column about Vegas technologies that bafflingly hadn't caught on elsewhere. Not sure if this scotches that idea or not -- there were others I had in mind, too -- but it's good to see progress any which way. Bradbury told me when he was still at Aureole that the tablets had spurred a noticeable increase in wine sales, so it seemed inevitable that others would follow sooner or later.

Back in the day, Bradbury and the Aureole crew had said that they could foresee their tablet programs in restaurants all over the world and planned to give diners user names and passwords. That way, you could go to another restaurant, get the tablet and see what you liked the last time. Bradbury also said there would be a way to email yourself or others your wine selections and even order that wine delivered to your home. I don't believe most of those innovations ever happened.

The Aureole version does have one unique aspect that can't really be replicated, the live-streaming webcam that shows the wine angels ascending and descending on winches inside the wine tower. Let's drink to that.


James said...

Steve, as an iPad (and quite a bit of other Apple gear) owner, I can appreciate the feeling of, "oh, they should totally put this on the iPad.". However, it's not clear from your article what benefit that would give them, features it would have that they don't have now, etc. Actually you listed one feature they have now that the iPad doesn't have.

I can't really expect a business owner to throw away a bunch of equipment they have that works well and is customized for their business to replace it with iPad just because it's Apple and Apple is so sexy.