My first experience with an automated wine dispenser was on a cruise ship in 2009. It didn’t go so well. After I finally chose which wine to taste from the large selection, I somehow managed to get more wine on the floor than in my glass. I don’t know how I accomplished that, it’s just so typically me.
Now, the Mr. and I wouldn’t classify ourselves as wine aficionados. We wouldn’t even say we’re all that knowledgeable about it. We’ve been to Napa, we’ve done numerous wine tastings, and we certainly appreciate the process. But beyond that, we’re not sure we could tell you the difference between a $10 bottle and a $250 bottle (although in our limited experience we have usually preferred the more affordable of the bunch). I’m also unsure if I could get beyond “red” or “white” in a blindfold test. Although, I think I could pick a chardonnay out pretty well. Like buttah.
The wine game can be a bit overwhelming and after watching the documentary SOMM several years ago, I’m convinced that those who pass the Master Sommelier Exam are a whole other level of human being. I believe it’s fairly factual that they have 400% more tastebuds than the rest of us and a better sense of smell than a dog.
So there I was spilling a fancy pour of wine all over the cruise ship floor.
Nine years later, I am again confronted with those automated wine dispensers at Luisa’s Cellar here in Downtown Sanford. (You can read what we wrote about one of Sanford’s newest bars here for HistoricDowntownSanford.com.)
There are two machines holding eight bottles each. You’ll need to purchase a card for a small fee. You get to keep the card, add money to it, and begin your wine journey. The card acts like a debit card which you insert into the machine to make your selection. Just always remember to remove your card after you are done with your selection!
One machine is for whites and the other for reds. Again, I’m no expert, but I’d recommend starting with a light, dry white and work your way to a heavy red. Prices vary from bottle to bottle and you can choose between a 2.5 ounce or 5 ounce pour.
The Mr. and I enjoyed experimenting with Luisa’s dispensers on a Wednesday evening. There’s currently a special where if you add $15 to your dispenser card, they will add another $15. So $30 in wine tasting!
Obviously the objective is to hold the glass underneath the dispenser and push the button (push it for a second or two). Thankfully, I did not spill wine everywhere. But for whatever typical-me-reason, it took a few tries to coordinate the glass and the button and the card and good grief - if your name isn’t Christina then I’m sure you’ll do just fine.
Overall I think wine dispensers are great place to start for wine newbies, as it’s an efficient way to narrow down your likes and dislikes and to try wine from around the world. Perhaps you’ll hone in on a region that you prefer over others. And who knows, maybe you’ll be on your way to Master Sommelier - just remember us little people drinking out of cardboard boxes when you get there!