Las Vegas E-Book Offers a Jackpot for Wine Lovers

eWine Book, the first electronic wine list, lets diners browse through restaurant's catalog of 3,500 wines.
John Griffin of the San Antonio Express-News reports that people strolling through Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay resort often stop to gaze at the wine tower in the midst of Charlie Palmer's Aureole restaurant. Forty-two feet tall, it is more than a conversation piece--it is a symbol of the role wine plays in the restaurant.

Then, when they catch sight of one of the two wine angels, women in flying harnesses zooming high into the air to fetch an order or restock a bin, the effect is all the more breathtaking and sets tongues wagging in delight. But the fiberglass wine tower is now old news, at least compared to the new toy the restaurant has introduced that lets people navigate the treasures in the tower.

The new buzz is coming from the eWine Book, the first electronic wine list that lets diners browse through the restaurant's catalog of more than 3,500 wines with just the tap of a stylus. At present, only a list of what's available will appear on the screen. Soon, users will be able to learn characteristics of the wine and background on the vintner as a means of helping them making the best selection.

The eWine Book is the creation of Andrew Vadjinia, the restaurant's director of wine and a confirmed technophile. The idea first struck Vadjinia ``many years ago.'' But it's been only in the last two or three years that he has been able to work on it and make it a reality, thanks to hardware help from cyberPIXIE and software assistance from REDoctober.

The eWine Book has generated international attention, even before its debut this month. A short item in USA Today drew hundreds of requests for information from as far away as China. One restaurateur, visiting from Down Under, drew Vadjinia aside and said, ``We need to talk, because this has got to go to Australia.''

Though Vadjinia is planning to market the eWine Book, he wants to make sure it meets the needs of the restaurant first. That includes introducing more background information about the wines, especially those from boutique or unknown vineyards, as well as the food.

The e-book is slightly larger than the average sheet of letter-sized paper and only about a half-inch thick. It is lightweight and backlit, which helps in the restaurant's ambient lighting. Downloading the software at the beginning of the evening takes only two minutes, while the battery lasts up to 3 1/2 hours. There are stands discreetly placed near a corner of the bar for recharging.