26th April 2018 by Matt Monk

Matt hits back at claims that wine tasting machines are a threat to a wine professional and instead proposes that when in the right hands it can be the future for our industry.

“So how does it work then?’

My favourite question about my favourite wine gadget. Really, I can wax lyrically about our wine dispensing machine, it’s our second one. The first was a ‘By The Glass’ version, our new one is by ‘Enomatic’, both were 8 bottle, split temperature, nitrogen gas, wine dispensing…….see, I told you!

It has always given us an opportunity to offer a choice of 8 different wines, but of a much higher value than we offer on our blackboard. This is because when wine is dispensed, nitrogen gas is pumped in to create a blanket of inert gas protecting the wine from oxidising, usually giving us protection for at least 4 weeks, not that the wines are there for that long.

I first heard about these dispensing machines in an article about a new store opening in Islington, London called The Sampler. The owner, Jamie Hutchinson, spent nearly two years working to change the rules concerning weights and measures, allowing the ability to serve and charge for measures of 25ml and 75ml. They were the first to use them as an ‘attraction’ in store. Here was a piece of gadgetry that allowed the dispensing of different measures of wine, accurately (very important for the Weights and Measures Act), while keeping the wine fresh. There are many reasons why businesses use a dispensing machine from the ability to offer more expensive wines to taste, to help their customers be more experimental, to just being able to sell more wines.

Others feel that there is something a bit impersonal about the machine, that it can be a touch clinical, but I don’t agree, of course if you just put the machine in, then pick 8 wines and leave them in, never change them (until you run out of that option) and just let it sit there, then yes.

But with a great customer orientated team it’s a formidable tool. It gives the team an opportunity to pick out some great examples of the wines in stock, for customers to try something different, to try something, maybe, a little out of the comfort zone. At Whalley, we have a yearly plan of themes, each theme usually only lasting 3 weeks. At the moment, there are 8 wines from California and Oregon (Please try the Seven Springs La Source Chardonnay from Oregon, A- Maz-ing!!), next week Australia, we’ve got a Riesling theme, a ‘Spain but not Rioja’ theme, a ‘Pronounce the Grape’ Theme, the ‘Staff Choice’ theme in December is always popular and my favourite, a Blind Taste competition theme. Its my favourite part of my job, picking out the themes and wines for our new Enomatic machine. In the past, we have had £400 bottles of Henschke Hill of Grace, a bottle of 1985 Amarone, verticals (wines of the same producer but different vintages) of Errazuriz Don Maximiano, Puligny Montrachet and Chocolate Block. It is just a great piece of kit, and in the right hands it can show the belief and passion of whoever is lucky enough to have one, and I consider Whalley Wine Shop very lucky indeed!!


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