Emilia Romagna brings new tech to Old World wine | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Emilia Romagna brings new tech to Old World wine

"It's taking the information from the sommelier and putting it right in your hands."


At first glance, ordering wine at Emilia Romagna might look like a daunting proposition. The wine list at the Strip District's new high-end Italian eatery is lengthy — 65 wines at press time, and expected to double in the near future. Plus, the list is heavily focused on Italian wines, many of which are fermented from less familiar grape varietals, such as Nebbiolo, Negroamaro and Pigato. How can a novice, or an expert for that matter, pick the right bottle? 

There is — as the contemporary cliché goes — an app for that. 

The restaurant has partnered with local tech firm RhoMania to create a custom iPad app designed to defuse some of the mystery surrounding the wine list. "It's taking the information from the sommelier and putting it right in your hands," says restaurant general manager Andrew Budacki.

The app allows drinkers to search for wine in a number of ways: alphabetically, by wine style/grape varietal, price and region of production. Click on a wine, and it'll take you to a detailed description of the wine's characteristics. You'll also find ratings from wine expert Robert Parker, and the critics at Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator.

Emilia Romagna's app will have social-media features built into it, too. For example, customers will be able to "tag" the wines they like on Facebook. "It's going to be bringing, into a truly traditional list, the ability to socially express what you're drinking, and allow others to experience it with you," says Budacki.

All that technology is great, but what about the human factor? What happens to the work of the sommelier? 

Budacki thinks there is still a place for human expertise: To that end, Emilia Romagna manager and resident wine expert Steve Alexander is a welcome fixture in the dining room. But Budacki also believes that emergent technology will provide customers a forward-thinking experience that puts the decision in their hands. 

"This is really the future," he says.

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