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Fine dining goes hi-tech as restaurants embrace iPad wine lists

The UK's fine dining restaurants are rapidly turning their wine lists electronic, with the Vineyard at Stockcross the latest to embrace the iPad.

The trend that started at the beginning of the century with Aureole in Las Vegas, the contents of whose four-storey, stainless-steel-and-glass wine tower that diners browse via an ‘ewinebook’, has now gone global, Brian St Pierre writes in the latest issue of Decanter.

‘These days, I’m using an iPad more than a corkscrew,’ Ronan Sayburn MS, wine director for the Hotel du Vin chain, told St Pierre. ‘We’re trialling them in Birmingham and 90% of our customers have liked them.’

The list of UK restaurants that now present customers with an iPad instead of a paper wine list is gettting longer every day: several of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, Asian-fusion restaurant Australasia in Manchester, London’s Rib Room, and the Vineyard,which has one of the most comprehensive American wine lists in the country.

‘It will give our guests the opportunity to better look at our long wine list and easily access their preferences, but without replacing our interaction,’ Vineyard head sommelier Yohann Jousselin said.

Worldwide, St Pierre namechecks restuarants from New York (Thomas Keller’s Per Se), Argentina (La Bourgogne at the Alvear Palace among some 80 others), Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Spain and points between that have adopted the iPad.

Even France, he writes, is succumbing to the lure of the tablet. While one sommelier is quoted as saying the iPad will never catch on, St Pierre is able to list half a dozen restaurants, starting with Les Tablettes in Paris, that use it.

Not everyone is equally keen, however, with several high-ranking professionals expressing doubt.

Andrew Connor, of Luytens restaurant in London, is one. ‘Too many times technology has let me down,’ he says. ‘Air-conditioning broken, reservation systems crashed, lights gone crazy – I prefer a low-tech solution where possible.’

Read the whole article in the March issue of Decanter, on sale now and available on iPad.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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