Three Cheers for Top-Shelf Wine Dispensers

Susanna Tocca Spills the Details in Portugal

Italian-made Enomatic wine dispensers have been par for the course in top wine regions like Bordeaux, allowing wine enthusiasts the opportunity to try a multitude of different wines at varying price points and portions based on their likes, dislikes, and general curiosity. 

As Portugal’s notoriety in viticulture slowly takes its rightful place among Italy, France, and Argentina to name a few, the popularity of Enomatic dispensers is sure to follow. Vini Portugal’s tasting room in Lisbon’s main Praça do Comércio has been using this dispenser technology for some time now to the delight of wine lovers of both local and foreign origins, but an alarming few wine bars are following suit, potentially to their own detriment, as the benefits of these dispensers have the potential to outweigh the upfront costs in the end. 

We heard through the grapevine that Susanna Tocca, CEO at the IPBN member company DOC DMC Services Events and Wine and COO at Excelência de Portugal has been Portugal’s official supplier of these dispensers since 2008, and now she has her hands on a brand-new line of them. 

On the merits of the machine over by-the-bottle tastings, Susanna underlined the difference in quality tastings and a better understanding of the wine culture inside your business if you opt for the former. “The machines are linked to software that provides data on consumption, provides the perfect storage temperature for each bottle, and measures perfectly each pour. They are activated directly by the customer with a pre-paid card so the client can mix and match as they like depending on the number of credits they have allocated. A restaurant can make more money with this by-the-glass or by-the-pour mentality than simply offering bottle service and providing top quality simultaneously with every glass.” 

Even if you are a wine-by-the-glass patron of a restaurant, there's no assurance that what you are getting is served fresh. Susanna said, "After opening a wine bottle, in three days the wine doesn't conserve its original characteristics. There is a way to re-seal the bottle and take out the oxygen, but there's no guarantee that it's being done by the restaurant, nor is the process all that reliable."

The dispensers themselves are a bit on the expensive side, but Susanna is adamant that it’s worth the investment if your main clientele is wine enthusiasts. Wine shops that offer high-priced bottles and high-volume wine bars can expect the machine to pay for itself after two or three years, according to Susanna. "You can sell expensive wines with higher mark-ups more easily. Take the restaurant Sommelier off of Avenida Liberdade as an example: their 'Infinite Wine Wall' offers 72 different bottles on the taps. You can start with a Vinho Verde and work your way up to a heavier Alentejo seamlessly, and without all the waste.”

Portugal has a different history with its wine than most other prominent winemaking countries, but that’s changing. While the public continues to learn about the winemaking magic of the Iberian Peninsula and tourism is slated to have a resurgence in coming years, it seems wise for top wine shops and bars to prepare accordingly. Luckily, there are options to purchase the newer machines as well as to rent the older ones for a minimum of four months, with options for financing over three or four years. It all begins with a quick phone call or email to Susanna, who will be glad to lead you through the ins and outs. The IPBN is raising our glass to wine innovation and looking forward to seeing what magic pours out of the future!