Wine Lists Go Digital

“It is an efficient experience, allowing the staff to concentrate on great food and wine,” says Jeff Krevitt.
“It is an efficient experience, allowing the staff to concentrate on great food and wine,” says Jeff Krevitt. © Tiare Technology

They can be in app or website form. In either case, users say they appeal to the techno-savvy generation.

Restaurants across the nation have started making the switch from paper wine lists to digital tablets or iPads. Despite upfront costs, the pioneers have seen beverage sales increased up to 20 percent. The market has since become saturated with companies providing affordable solutions. But the abundant options have led to confusion over which software to choose for your restaurant.

There are three basic models: the replication, or PDF, version, the app and the website.

The replication is as basic as PDFs of the wine list. To Michael Scherzberg, sommelier of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York City, that simply wasn’t enough. “We wanted it to be something where guests can narrow their search, as opposed to flipping through the list,” Scherzberg explains.

Scherzberg has been working on the Incentient SmartCellar website-based program since November and finally launched the digital wine list to the public in April. His plate has been full writing 20 pieces of information about each of its 600 wine selections. That includes the history of wineries and pictures of wine labels. Although he still has a ways to go, the wine list may be found here.

“If you want to do it well, you have to plan on dedicating a lot of time to getting started,” Scherzberg cautions.

However, some companies are boasting faster transition periods. Forest Park, Illinois-based Beverage Works promises to have the new system up and running within 48 hours.

The app hit the scene last November, and its latest update was set to be released Aug. 1. According to owner Vito Claps, the company has 2,000 wines in its database. Monthly fees are $79 with a free 30-day trial. The format of the wine list is typical across the board, and the pages look standard, Claps says.

This standard formatting was one reason why Chicago Cut Steakhouse owner David Flom decided to partner with Shared Marketing to develop Chicago’s first digital wine list program. The “off-the-wall” software came at a pretty penny, though; the 40 iPads alone cost $28,000. According to Flom, the investment has paid off through an increased ratio of food to beverage sales of 20 percent in comparison with his previous restaurant operations.

Information currently available includes videos from winemakers, Google maps and wine pairing recommendations. This year’s additions include 3-D bottle images, videos of food preparation and syncing with Open Table, the point-of-sale and inventory control system.



This is Vito Claps, from Beverage Works.  Great article Amy, but you left out a couple of things about our app.  First, it is called WinePass, and is available free in the app store.  That makes it available to the 40+ million people that own iPads, as well as for use in the restaurant.  With this flexibility, a restaurant operator can provide as few or as many iPads in their restaurant.  At a minimum, many restaurants use the app as a reference library for their wine list.Because of our infrastructure, we have restaurants up in 48 hours, with great info on the wines on their list, including scores, winemaker's notes, and a link to the winery website. For a limited time, we are offering restaurants FREE research and input of all of the info on the wines on their list, PLUS, a FREE 30 day trial.  Give it a try!  Just register at or call me at 708.689.8041. 

Amy, this is Todd from Shared Marketing.  We developed the iPad application for Chicago Cut.  I just wanted to clarify that our software is nowhere near $28,000 -that was Chicago Cut's cost for buying the iPads.   We can have a restaurant up and running in about 3 weeks, totally customized to the look and feel of their establishment, for as little as a couple of thousand dollars.   We've got tens of thousands of wines in our database and adding more with every new deployment.   Restaurants can customize their software from just basic information all the way to tasting notes, pairings, and video from the wine makers.  We'll have an exciting announcement next month when we launch our first deployment for a Michelin starred chef.  Readers can go to to learn more.  I'd also be happy to send anybody who's interested a link to a site where they can see the software in action.  Please send me an email at  

AMY, great Post! I have been travelling in Italy and I had the chance to use in a restaurant an outstandig solution, called WineAmore app for iPad; made by an Italian start-up,it  is completely customizable and multilanguage, with a really affordable price (it was told me by the restaurant owner that it was about 600 euro/year). Just to let you know!Regards,Samuel

Maybe the solution of QR code for restaurant is very cheap and restaurant will not need to buy "40 new Ipad" BUT Smartphone is not a tablet or Ipad!Every app of digital menu for Ipad is Simple and convenient to operate. The screen is big and customer can to see dishes with photos. The apps of digital menu for smartphone is very small and customer cannot see the dishes like at the tablet. Restaurants use digital menu to increase sales and iphone menu will not do it like Ipad.If restaurant want to transfer from paper menu to digital menu they need to choose the Ipad menu solution.Every company that develops digital menu for Ipad like "emenu International" ( develops smartphone menu but they never sale only smartphone menu because if they sale only smartphone for restaurant, the restaurant will cancel the contract after short time. The smartphone menu is only companion product and not a main product forrestaurant. For more Info you can to visit at "emenu international"


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