Clo Wine Bar: Blending Taste with Technology

I hope my friends enjoy coming uptown to meet me when I’m in New York City because I’ve found my new favorite wine bar. Clo is a wine bar of the 21st century that blends taste with technology.

Clo’s glowing rectangular box is on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center, with views of Columbus Circle and Central Park. Inside the space is sleek and modern – a long white bar and more than 100 wine bottles arranged in the wall in temperature-controlled dispensing cases.

You’re immediately drawn to what’s on the white bar: an interactive wine menu projected from the ceiling. Think an iPhone meets 2001: A Space Odyssey. If James Bond had a wine collection, he’d use this to select a bottle. With a wave of your hand you can scroll through the wine list. Select a bottle and you’ll get information on the wine, tasting notes and its location along the wall. You can also search the wines by grape and country.

I want this for my own wine collection.

The name Clo comes from the French “clos,” which means a walled-in vineyard. Clo was created by Andrew Bradbury, who developed the interactive wine menu technology. His eWinebook, an electronic touch screen wine menu, is featured at many of Charlie Palmer’s restaurants.

After playing with the wine menu, you get the wine yourself using a Clo smartcard. It looks like an ATM card and it works in a similar way. Insert the card into the slot above the wine dispensing case, press the button above your desired bottle, and a 4 oz pour of the wine (2 oz for dessert wines), comes out. Just make sure to check the price above the button before making your selection – wines range from around $9 to $98, so one accidental click can be costly! When you’re ready to leave you return your smartcard and pay the tab.

Walking along the wall of wine with your card and glass you feel like a kid in a candy store – lots of tasty options at your fingertips. It’s a great way to try unfamiliar wines and find new favorites. My sister discovered she really likes Chilean reds. My friend was pleasantly surprised by a great tasting wine from Israel. I tried a Pinot Noir from Burgundy that I wouldn’t necessarily order and found it to be really good (and a good price).

Clo offers a selection of cheeses and lite bites to accompany the wine.

Clo is a simple and fun concept that would be a huge success in Miami Beach or in places with limited space like airports. Its only flaw is the small size; the long table takes up a lot of space and makes the bar feel crowded with fewer people – and a wine bar like this is sure to attract a crowd. As long as there’s space and the wine selection is as varied, I’ll be returning to Clo. I just hope one day I’ll be able to have similar technology in my own home!

For more information on Clo visit www.clowines.com.

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