Sunday, June 1, 2008

Wine In Sample Shots-The Enomatic Way

Wine lovers can have the world's vineyards at their fingertips inside Vino, a unique boutique in downtown Hollywood that offers up self-service tastings with the touch of a button.

The shop carries hundreds of labels, with a good number available for sampling using a simple system that lets people try before they buy.

Devotees of the grape can choose from 64 wines dispensed from Enomatic devices that pour one- to six-ounce servings. If they enjoy their selections, customers can purchase bottles to drink at home or have uncorked on the premises, which also features an antipasto bar where folks can feast on freshly prepared platters of imported cheeses and cold cuts.

The computerized Enomatics have become a popular attraction at the shop, opened this winter by Fulvio Sardelli Sr., his wife, Carmen, and their son, Fulvio Jr.

If the family's name sounds familiar, it's because the Sardellis are already well-established on the block as owners of Fulvio's 1900, a neighboring Italian restaurant that's been serving patrons for the past decade from the corner of Harrison Street and 19th Avenue.

The fine-dining establishment has long catered to connoisseurs with its extensive collection of wines. Samplings have been available to patrons there for the past two years, following the installation of Enomatic systems, Fulvio Sardelli Jr. said.

Vino takes the concept to another level, placing it in a retail environment with a sophisticated decor of leather seats, dark woods, brick walls and flat-screen TVs.

To start sipping, visitors put money on a prepaid club card that's inserted into the glass-encased Enomatics, with its ever-changing array of reds, whites and dessert wines. Samples cost $1 to $13 per serving.

Each bottle's contents are kept fresh using nitrogen.

''It's preserved to perfection,'' Fulvio Sardelli Jr. said.

The self-serve system is appealing to experts and novices alike. It gives people more options and control over the selection process, letting them try different labels from different countries back to back, he said.

For example, a person can compare pinot noirs from France, Italy and California in one sitting, he said.

Vino also carries more wines in the shop's cellar room, including vintage and hard-to-find labels.

''Our prices are competitive, from the teens to the thousands,'' Fulvio Sardelli Jr. said ``We have reds, whites, champagnes, ports, dessert wines from South America, Australia, Italy, Portugal. You name the country, we have the wine.''

Vino's list continues to expand, with labels constantly being added. ''We're trying to get niche wines from around the world,'' he said. ``We want to have an ever-evolving selection.''

Beth Feinstein-Bartl