- Posted by CorkNoob
Have you tried using a digital restaurant menu yet? Whether it’s an app for selecting food, beverages, or even the touchscreen menus that we see popping up in fast food locations, restaurants are starting to adopt technology over paper. Many restaurants have already been using technology for various aspects of the guest experience such as OpenTable for reservations or the Square for check out. So I often wonder why there are not more digital options for the wine lovers among us?
I may be slightly biased, since I’m a current writer for CorkGuru, but I was recently invited to test out the platform at Cioppino Restaurant & Cigar Bar in Pittsburgh. Who can refuse a trip to try some killer food and wine?
Read below to discover my experience as a “millennial” (don’t love the term, but we’ll have to go with it) and what I find to be the main advantages that digital wine menus offer as compared to using a plain text on paper menu.
Selecting Wine from a Standard Paper Menu
Being a new wine drinker, I am always stressed when trying to select the perfect wine at a restaurant, especially if that wine list is excruciatingly long. What do all of these wine names mean? Can you just tell me if they taste okay? Will it work with what I’m eating? It would basically be me looking at the wine list with a dead stare for 10 minutes, then when I realize I need to pick something, selecting a standard Cabernet in a lower price range.
Now that I’ve been exploring wines a little more lately, I have been starting to ask the server or wine expert for suggestions. (I recently found out they are called ‘Sommeliers’ – I know classy, right?). In the situation where a Sommelier or knowledgeable wine staff member is available and able to review the wine list with me, this usually overrides any concern I have. I am able to find something different that still works with my food, but let’s face it, at this point I’m completely avoiding the actual menu and using the server as my walking, talking wine list.
Using the Restaurant Wine Menu App
At Cioppino, I was quickly seated at a table, poured some chilled water and given an iPad to select my wine. I am kind of a techie and enjoy trying out new apps (yes, I suppose I am a typical millennial – sigh.) so the process was fun for me, although it was simple enough to use that I’m sure anyone could get the hang of it quickly. Within a couple taps of my finger, I was able to filter through the wine types. I selected “reds” and the restaurant had an extensive wine list, so there was still a ton of wines to choose from.
“Need help choosing?” was a large button on the bottom of the screen, asking a provocative question. Why yes, I do! This button drew up a wine spectrum for me to select wine by general taste and color all the way from a light & crisp white to a warm & toasty red. How about a “big & bold red”? I tapped this option and saw my typical Cabernet pick in the list of wine varietals, so I figured the other wine types would be up my alley as well.
See wines, please! This option then filtered the wine list to show all “big & bold reds” to me. From there, I could see those wines with images, descriptions and which wines were recommended by the Sommelier. I clicked a few to compare them side by side. At that point, I did still talk to the server to see what he thought about the last few options I had open on my screen. Since I wasn’t sure what I wanted to order food-wise yet, we discussed that and went with an Italian red “Le Sabbie Dell’etna Rosso” to pair with my Gnocchi pasta. That was one tasty dinner! More wine please!
I’d say using a standard paper wine menu vs using a digital wine menu would only yield the same result if an ultra-knowledgeable wine staff member was available at all times to help me choose from the non-digital wine list. But even in that case, I probably wouldn’t have asked for help. Too intimidating for a wine “noob”.
I could absolutely see an advantage for a restaurant to go digital; first to ease the intimidation factor and second, to help free up servers allowing them to assist more guests while I get comfortable with their wine menu. With the digital list I was able to narrow down my selection on my own and then only asked a follow up question — as opposed to making the server give me the full wine menu breakdown and perhaps return to the table for my final decision.
In addition, the digital version makes for a fun and unique experience overall, that not too many other restaurants have adopted yet, meaning a night to remember for guests like me (and to recommend to friends)!
Two outcomes that I had from my experience.
- I tried something new. With a digital menu, I was able to filter out all of the options I knew I didn’t like and see recommendations and notes on each wine option. This pushed me to try something different that I wouldn’t normally choose or even know how to pronounce!
- I selected a higher priced wine. If you can believe it, I actually ended up selecting a wine in a higher price range than I normally would, and I am usually a bargain shopper! I’m thinking I selected a higher priced wine because I felt more confident in my selection after reading the wine descriptions and seeing the imagery that went with them, as opposed to narrowing down by price first then playing the “eenie, meenie, miney, moe” game on a standard paper wine list.
I hope this helps understand the process of ordering at a restaurant from a slightly different point of view – the “CorkNoob” and millennial all-in-one.
Have you tried ordering from a digital menu at a restaurant recently? What was your experience like? Pleasant or not?