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Hi-tech interactive wine lists


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Hi,

I am writing an article about hi-tech interactive wine lists for a Chilean magazine.

Recently, I read an article in the Periodico de Catalunya,in Spanish, kindly posted by Lenski on the Celler Can Roca forum, that said that the new wine list at El Celler de Can Roca is incredibly modern, a full sensorial experience. Josep, the sommelier, is quoted as saying "ours is a sensorial cellar. There is nothing like it in the world. When the client enters, 2 plasma screens show images and words about the wine he's thinking of ordering."

Apparently, they go even further, getting clients to dip hands in a tub of steel mini-spheres to evoke the sensation of the bubbles in champagne, for example.

When I ate there, the 3 brothers were still at the old address, but now they've moved to this swanky new space where they've got this wine cellar set-up. I'm sure e-gulleters have been there, so...

Has anyone experienced this in person? I'd love to know more.

Also, it seems Ferran has an interactive wine list too. Is anyone able to describe it?

thanks so much!

Edited by AlexForbes (log)

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Coque, in Humanes (Madrid), has also an eWine List.

elBulli's wine list can be accessed at vins.elbulli.com. What they use at the restaurant is the very same application you have in the web but loaded on a TabletPC.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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As of August 2007, they were still refining the software, so it was more something they showed to particularly wine loving customers. I don't know if it's already full fledged or not, perhaps someone who had been there this season could confirm this.

None of the restaurants mentioned has banished the printed wine list, I believe. Not Can Roca, for sure, not 100% positive about Coque.

PedroEspinosa (aka pedro)

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Thanks, Pedro.

I just got an email from Bulli sommeliers Ferran Centelles and David Seijas. They tell me the following:

"Currently we are immersed in the second adaptation of the e-cartavi, which will be a revolutionary and very fun way to search for wines. In the meantime, the e-cartavi is available online for customers wanting to consult our list before arriving at El Bulli".

Very interesting, I am curious to see what they'll come up with!

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Hi Pedro,

thank you so much for this. Do they bring the tablet PC to the table automatically or do you have to request it? Do they also have a "normal" printed wine list?

thanks again!

We had lunch at El Bulli in early April, and were offered a 'normal' printed wine list. Well, it's more of a book - the red one on this photo:

gallery_43137_2974_4702.jpg

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Here in New York City, the restaurant Adour Alain Ducasse at the St. Regis Hotel has the most high-tech wine list I've ever seen, at its wine bar. It's projected onto the surface of the wine bar by ceiling-mounted projectors and you navigate the list by hovering your hand over the selections you want to read more about.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Hi Fat Guy,

I tried out the interactive list at Adour, but found it to be quite annoying to use. You have to waive your hands in the air, and the projected ray of light that "reads" your hand movements is quite slow to catch on. Moreover, on the night of my visit one of the two projectors was broken. And trying to select a wine using the system seemed so complicated - nobody seemed to try except me - that I gave up and asked for the regular wine list. Waiving my hands in the air as 4 staff members looked on with amused looks on their faces was not my idea of a fun way to order wine. It seemed to me like a bit of a hoax, to be honest.

Now... for a true interactive wine experience, I think Celler de Can Roca has it. I found out on the Spanish site Círculo Club del Vino that Josep Roca, the sommelier, erected altars in the cellar in homage of his five favourite wines, where guests are encouraged to “experience” them by sight and touch. While images of vineyards play on a flatscreen monitor, guests can dip hands in a tub of steel mini-spheres wich evoke the cool and popping bubbles in champagne. Running one’s fingers down a cool and smooth piece of slate inside a polished piece of olive wood somehow evokes the brute force of Priorat wines. Reds from bourgogne are represented by velvet pouches, while a rough piece of limestone draws reference to the parched terroir that Jerez hails from.

Here is the original text in Spanish: nueva bodega de Can Roca

Alexandra Forbes

Brazilian food and travel writer, @aleforbes on Twitter

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Alex, the Ducasse list may be annoying (though I got the hang of it pretty quickly) but it's higher tech than what you're describing at Can Roca. So if the goal is to chronicle high-tech wine lists, I think Adour has it all over anything else I've seen or heard about.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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