Three cheers for newly opened Modo for installing Beijing’s first card-based wine machines:
Cheer 1 because open wine can be stored in the machines for up to three weeks, thus making it less risky to include unusual and expensive options on the by-the-glass list. (Typically, bars and restaurants are only able to store wine for a few days and will thus go for relatively inexpensive fast-selling options.) The initial lineup of 16 wines at Modo bears this out as it includes atypical options such as Albarino from Spain, Gamay Noir from New Zealand, Malbec from Argentina, Gruner Veltliner from Austria, Pinotage from South Africa, Vermentino from Italy, and Zinfandel from the United States. Alex Molina, who manages Modo and sibling restaurant Mosto, says customers are more likely to buy a bottle of a lesser-known wine if they can sample it first.
Cheer 2 for the range of pour sizes. Insert your card and you have three options for each wine–15 ml, 75 ml, and 150 ml. (A full glass at a bar is usually 125 ml to 150 ml.) A 25 ml pour is small but enough for a few mouthfuls to see if you like the wine and want to splurge on a full glass. And the small pours start at RMB11, with full glasses from RMB60.
Cheer 3 for letting consumers try wine in peace. Wine is intimidating for many people and while there are many friendly and helpful wine experts in Beijing, there are also some condescending and tiresome ones. I like the idea of having a DIY space where I can go with friends to try some unusual wines in a laid-back setting.
Wine drinkers in Shanghai and Hong Kong already have access to these machines and it is good to see them showing up here. I hope they catch on and that someday I’ll be able to find one with a bunch vintages of the same wine, another with Pinot Noir from six continents, and other fun mixes.