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In the not-too-distant future, the iPad could put restaurant sommeliers out of business and make the leather-bound wine list obsolete.
Apple iPads loaded with SmartCellar software recently have begun popping up in restaurants across the country. The software allows a restaurant to load its wine list onto the tablet. Diners, in turn, use the touch screen to search for selections by name, region, varietal and price. SmartCellar includes photos and detailed ratings by the likes of American wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr.
Incentient, the company behind SmartCellar, is based on Long Island. Jennifer Martucci, senior vice president of product development, sales and marketing, has spent the past several months crisscrossing the country to promote the product. Response from Bay Area and Napa restaurateurs has been particularly keen, she says. Barbacco, in San Francisco’s Financial District, has received favorable reviews since switching to the iPad wine list, judging by the customer comments at Yelp.com. Other clients include San Francisco’s swank Hotel Nikko, as well as the wine country’s Calistoga Ranch.
As of press time, Martucci had not received a single nibble from the 916 or 530 area codes. Tech-savvy Josh Nelson of The Selland Group is curious to check out the software—but in somebody else’s restaurant. “It wouldn’t make a lot of sense for our program at Ella. We try to make everything as simple as possible,” he says. “I can just imagine handing something like this to my grandfather at the table and not having him want to bring a business client back.”