As I sit here writing about today’s wine experience I am thinking about change. In a few short hours I will have a brand new grandchild. This tiny, little baby boy will bring change to the entire family dynamic, and this change is one of those warm and loving sought-after changes. Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same, and at other times, change is just plain awful.
Speaking of change, things are really changing rapidly with the Idaho wine industry. Will the changes be all warm and fuzzy like my new grandson or awful like the rate hikes on my health insurance, or perhaps just somewhere in the middle? Only time will tell, but for now this is an update on one of the newest changes in the wine scene in Idaho.
One of the most interesting changes in the local wine scene is the opening of the elegant, self-serve wine bar Bodovino in Boise, Idaho. At first, Bodovino’s 144 wines available for sampling were a bit overwhelming and made us a little nervous. Immediately, those nerves were put to ease when we were taken on a tour and given instructions on how everything worked.
Your first step is to show your identification. Nobody gets any further without one. If you pass with flying colors, then the staff places an attractive silver bracelet on your wrist that indicates you are old enough. For a one-time fee of three dollars you purchase a drink card. From this card you may load as many dollars as deemed fit for the day’s tasting or for tasting all year depending on your budget. The card is good for your lifetime. It is rechargeable and it tracks all the wine that you sample as well as your purchase history. Last but not least, you are given a wine glass to use for your sampling.
Now for the self-serve part. Let’s just say it is not intimidating in the slightest….1, 3 and 5 ounce pours are available. Read about each of the wines on cards placed below the bottles in the climate controlled coolers. If it sounds good, you decide how much. The price for each size is listed near the buttons on the cooler. Prices range from $1.00 an ounce to $11.00 an ounce. Bottles of the wine are placed in wracks above the coolers with per bottle prices displayed. Remember that lifetime card? Place it in the card slot. Place your glass under the spigot and press the button for the size of pour you want and Voila! You are probably saying, “What if I run low on the money on my card and only want to use up the amount on it and my choice of pour sizes cost more than on the card?” Well they have thought of that for you already as the pour size will be proportionate to what is available on the card. Example: You want to have a $1.25 3 ounce pour but you only have $1.00 left on your card, you will receive less than 3 ounces equivalent to the $1.00 that you have left. Besides, when you place your card in the slot the total amount left on your card is displayed for you so you will always know what you have available.
The gift shop graces the entry area. No skimping here. Everything you can find at the higher end wineries is available at this shop. The tasting area is elegant and generous in size. Wines are conveniently placed in regions with something for everyone…world wines, domestic wines, and yes even some beers are available as well for purchase. This is a big convenience when someone in your party is not a wine drinker. A European style cheese and fruit deli is available to tasters to enhance the whole experience. So a little wine, some cheese, a leather seat by the modern gas fireplace and beer for your non-wine drinking friend…it doesn’t get much better than this.
In general, the men in our party where perhaps a little less comfortable with this new experience. All of us were overwhelmed with all of the choices. I have been drinking wine for years but was not familiar with most of what was available. I found this exhilarating once I got my bearings, but others in our party were not as happy with the lack of familiarity. Give me the freedom of 144 wines to choose from for my tasting, and give me the control over what to spend instead of a $5.00 tasting fee to sample a few that I didn’t choose myself, and you have just given me what I would consider a perfect tasting experience. Some people will miss the more personal traditional tasting experience. If you have an excellent tasting room pourer the personal touch and experience shared can enhance the traditional winery experience. Likewise if a boring pourer espouses the “If I don’t look at you I don’t have to interact with you” he or she can ruin the entire traditional wine tasting experience. If you want a tour of where the wine was made you are fresh out of luck. I didn’t mind not looking at stacked barrels in a cold room but there are some who would be bummed. If I had to place a bet, I would say that places that step out of the box and specialize the wine tasting experience are here to stay. So depending on my mood, traditional or out of the box, I have choices, and as rumor has it, that can’t be all that bad.