Ordering a bottle of wine at Aureole Las Vegas will soon be more akin to checking e-mail than to flipping through the pages of a voluminous book. Beginning this month, diners at the high-end restaurant will be offered a handheld, wireless computer, with an 11-inch screen, on which they can peruse the wine list.
The new "eWine Book" is the creation of Aureole's wine director, Andrew Vadjinia. For this self-professed technophile, necessity was the mother of invention, since keeping up with Aureole's vast, rotating inventory of more than 35,000 bottles was proving to be difficult. Since the wine selections change frequently there, the hard copy of the restaurant's wine list, which holds a Wine Spectator Grand Award for its breadth and depth, was continually out of date.
"I've had this idea for a number of years, to design some kind of wireless tracking system for wine," said Vadjinia. "The wireless network will also have [digital] pictures of winemakers, with their profile, vineyard information and general information. You'll feel quite comfortable with what you're ordering."
Patrons can use the eWine Book to simply scroll through Aureole's entire list of 3,500-plus wines, or they can choose to break the list down by categories. With a touch of the screen, the list can be rearranged according to color, varietal, winery, country or appellation. Many wines will be accompanied by tasting notes and reviews, as well as suggested food pairings.
Vadjinia designed the eWine Book with the help of cyberPIXIE, Inc., a Chicago company that designs hand-held wireless devices, and REDoctober Industrie, a software developer in Seattle. The eWine Book system is built around the restaurant's current wireless technology. Currently, a server places a table's order at a wait station via a computer screen. When the server is finished, the order gets transmitted instantly to the kitchen. The eWine Book works the same way, but is light and mobile and doesn't require a waiter to operate it.
Beginning this month, Aureole will unveil 30 eWine Books for a test run in the restaurant. For now, once the guests decide which wine they want, they will consult the sommelier, who gives the order to Aureole's "wine angels," who then retrieve the bottle from the restaurant's wine tower. In the future, once Vadjinia feels customers are comfortable with the technology, they may be able to punch the order in themselves.
Vadjinia projects that similar technology will be available on the restaurant's Web site by the end of the summer. "This way, if you're jumping on a plane bound for Vegas at JFK airport, you can use your laptop to reserve your wine, and we'll hold it for you, as long as you actually plan to eat in the restaurant in a few days." A benefit to this, added Vadjinia, is that as soon as the restaurant runs out of a particular wine, it will be immediately removed from the system -- preventing diners from becoming disappointed by making a choice that turns out to be out of stock.
If all goes well, the eWine Book will eventually be launched at all Charlie Palmer restaurants. Of course, Vadjinia said, the restaurants will keep an old-fashioned print copy of their wine lists handy for traditionalists.
When all the kinks in the eWine Book have been worked out at Aureole, REDoctober founder Andi Rusu said that he plans to offer the same system to other restaurants. "It is a customizable system ? for whatever needs a restaurant has. The application is that versatile," said Rusu. "For now, until it hits big, it is an Aureole exclusive, but it might be taken further, to other restaurants."
Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino
3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89119
Telephone: (702) 632-7401
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