Review: WINO – Wine Institute of New Orleans

This is a cute little wine bar with walls of Enomatic machines. I love Enomatic machines because you can purchase and taste wine by the ounce. It gets a little expensive but it’s a ton of fun. You check in at the hostess stand and get a card to use in the machines. Your tasting card is your bar tab, so WATCH OUT because you turn in your card and pay when you leave. It’s easy to spend A LOT of money if you aren’t careful. I’d say the average price per ounce of the wine “on tap” would be around $3.00, but they range from $1 to $25 per ounce. This is a self-service wine bar: simply grab a glass, step up to the machines, insert your card and choose a taste of one of the many wines!

I’m a serious wine nerd and the wine selection is nice and respectable. There’s plenty of mainstream, easy drinking reds (The Prisoner, Caymus) that are sure to please even novice wine drinkers, as well as everyday whites and a few higher end labels. Selections include unusual wines from around the world (I had never tasted a Haitian wine before) and obscure varietals too. I didn’t discover any truly hidden gems, but I easily blew right through my $60 on my tasting card (oops).

The atmosphere could also be better. It’s cold and boring with uncomfortable stools and high tables. This place could be unbeatable if they’d put in a more inviting lounge type seating. I also thought the ladies working on the night I visited were a little bit too aloof and acted like they were wine experts (they weren’t). It’s a bad policy to assume that everyone who walks through your door is a novice and I didn’t appreciate being treated as such.

I didn’t order any food but there’s a small menu with some semi-appealing sounding bar food items, most pairing well with wine. The menu selections make sense and are well done. You’ll find bread with olive oil, hummus, toasted nuts, and cheese plates. There’s also a small selection of sparkling wines by the glass as well as bottles of beer (in case your buddies don’t like wine).

One big problem — and it’s a huge one — is that this place does not have dump buckets anywhere. That means you are stuck chugging whatever you purchased even if you don’t like it. That to me is a signal that it’s not a place for true wine lovers / tasters, and it tells me all I need to know about the clientele. I’m here to taste and discover new wines, not to get drunk.

Note: We fully paid for our wine tasting experience at this venue, it was not comped.


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