One of the first things you’re greeted with as you sit down to eat at Centro restaurant in downtown Des Moines is the beverage menu. I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve spent at Centro, and other restaurants for that matter, staring at the wine list asking myself, “Will this one be too sweet? Do I want to spend that much? I wonder if I should try this new wine?”
This past weekend I dined at Centro and I was pleasantly surprised to find the answers to many of my wine-related questions in the form of a sleek and sophisticated interactive wine list. An iPad was sitting at our table when we arrived. At first I had no idea what was going on. I even said to my boyfriend, “Oh, I think someone forgot their iPad,”…and then I realized no one had forgotten anything – it was an interactive wine list!
The iPad wine list, or as our waiter referred to it, the “digital sommelier,” enables customers to browse for wines by price, type, region and varietal. It took a few minutes to get used to searching but the more we played around with the interactive list, the more we learned about Centro’s wine offerings. I am somewhat of a wine novice, so it was a great way for me to learn more about the wine selection without feeling intimidated.
After doing a little research, I quickly learned Centro isn’t the only restaurant in town that is using a digital approach to enhance the beverage selection process for its customers. Other interactive drinking and dining experiences around Des Moines include:
- El Bait Shop – Beer Genius, a machine that helps you select the “perfect” beer for your tastes based on what the bar offers. The machine gives information about the brewing technique, flavor, ingredients, and more, on each beer.
- Royal Mile / Red Monk – Scotch Genius, a machine similar to the Beer Genius that helps you select a Scotch based on a series of preference-based questions.
- Americana – Bar Genius, an interactive tablet that helps diners decide which beers, wines and cocktails pair well with the meal they’ve selected at the restaurant.
- Django – Digital Sommelier or interactive wine list. (Similar to Centro’s with a more French, homey feel.)