in new york, touch screens are ubiquitous. whether they’re on our phones, in our hotels, or at our airports, they’ve single-handedly (finger-ly?) managed to streamline our lives to the point where convergence isn’t novelty – it’s necessity.
that reality is especially obvious at clo. clo is a wine bar that fuses the very traditional pleasures of wine tasting with high-tech accouterments – touch screens, automatic dispensing, cards rather than cash – that have insinuated their way into every aspect of city life.
the premise of clo is this: create an unbeatable list of over 100 wines by the glass, prevent them from spoilage by keeping them housed in climate-controlled conditions, and dispense them, at the touch of a button, into perfect 4-ounce pours.
visiters to clo select their wines with (what else) touch-screen technology. using your fingers, you peruse the selection on the basis of your interests, including the type of grape, wine origin, and price range, on a screen that scrolls atop the bar itself.
the technology is, if you’ll pardon the pun, rather touchy. put anything on the bar (keys, iphone, elbow) and the interactive menu gets confused; try scrolling the wrong way, and you’ll have to start your selection process all over again. it’s the sort of thing that was mildly annoying while sober; if i had tossed back a few and wanted to pick another, i know i’d be downright aggravated.
but this isn’t the type of wine bar where you get sloshy. the price of the wine alone will do a good job of preventing that. once i told the menu that i wanted a wine under $15, my selection became somewhat limited – if memory serves, there were 48 glasses at that price point or below.
of course, another downside of this wine bar 2.0 is that the automatic wine dispenser doesn’t discriminate between males or females, and won’t give you an extra-heavy pour if you give it bedroom eyes.
i selected my wine, swiped my wine-card (the on-site sommeliers give you one linked to your credit card at the beginning of your adventure) and received a perfectly metered 4-ounce glass. the stainless steel pouring made me long for the days of being served an extra-generous glass by a handsome bartender with a charismatic grin and a conspiratorial wink.
the wine was good, and the atmosphere was almost jovial: though clo is chic and swank, the finicky nature of the menu led to some good-natured joking with my wine bar companions, who were equal parts fascinated and mystified.
i’ll definitely head back to clo, if only to fine-tune my touch-screen selection abilities. next time, though, i’ll bring a buddy. the clo wine experience is enhanced and damaged by the impersonal nature of the technology that makes it special. navigating it with friends might just add a much-needed human touch.