Monday, July 18, 2011

They Make Wine There? Louisiana Edition.

I actually don't have a darn clue if they actually make wine in Louisiana. Standby... OK, so the intertubes tell me there is a small production coming out of the state and actually is a Mississippi Delta AVA. Hmm, who knew?

I probably should have known because I just spent one of the sweatiest weeks of my life there at a "conference" in "New Orleans". One of my express goals of the trip was to find this rare and obscure nectar, despite having done absolutely no research beforehand other than packing not less than 2 changes of underwear per day. After arriving at the hotel, connecting with fellow wine drinkers Jill and Kathryn, we set off on the journey.

Three steps later it was just too damn hot, at which point proximity became the driving factor. I pulled out my iPhone and did what any super-sweaty, marginally intelligent wino would do: opened Google Maps and typed in "wine" to see what came up. The nifty little pin popped up 0.6 miles away, indicating a place called the Wine Institute of New Orleans. We were off!

As we walked up Tchoupitoulas Street towards the Institute, I saw a sign out on the street simply saying W.I.N.O. This was going to be awesome. And yes, that really is a street name. No, I don't know how to say it. Quit asking questions while I'm trying to write! We stepped inside, and it was like the first time Jimmy Buffett walked into Margaritaville. Self serve tasting! I'll say it again, self serve tasting.

W.I.N.O. approaches the art of wine from a shop, taste, and discover perspective. Their staff describe it best when they say:

Ever order a bottle or a glass of wine only to be disappointed?

With so many different wine labels in such a vast and growing market, choosing is sometimes not a pleasure, but a dilemma…

If you’ve ever felt that wine bar regret, w.i.n.o. is your dream come true!

Dream come true it was! With over 120 wines available in the store, W.I.N.O. utilizes the state-of-the-art Enomatic wine serving system putting the user in control of the experience. We plunked down a credit card and received what can only be described as a magical wine tasting card in return, and we were left to roam the store. Find the wine you want, stick the card in the reader, and press a button to get either a 1-ounce, half-glass, for full glass pour. Drink. Pick another wine and repeat the process. Tastes ranged from $1.00 to $20.00 and the selection spanned the globe. We ended up with a delicious cheese plate to pair with our tasting and had a simply wonderful experience completely in control of our destiny.

Simple concept, right? Give consumers a choice in their experience and they'll be more satisfied. Not quite so simple. Northwest readers likely will recall an effort to install the Enomatic system in Dundee, Oregon a few years ago only to end up in a protracted legal battle with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission which resulted in the business being shut down. Alas, you really can get away with anything in New Orleans...

W.I.N.O. was an awesome start to the trip and is definitely a place to check out next time you're in the bayou.


Post a Comment