On a Saturday night, the crowd at Bodovino is relaxed, milling throughout the atmospheric BoDo location, with its dark hardwood floors and walls adorned with local artwork. Like any other wine bar, patrons sip on 1-, 3- or 5-ounce pours of wine--but unlike other wine bars, when their glasses are empty they get their refills from a high-tech dispenser and make their purchase with a special pre-paid card.
No formality, no sommelier-as-gatekeeper, no problem.
"It's meant to be a self-guided wine experience," owner and manager Mandy wood told Boise Weekly when Bodovino opened in Decmeber 2013.
With a list of more than 500 wines, there's plenty to experience--and the experience goes beyond the wine to include the way it's delivered.
Bodovino's 18 different machines--built by WineEmotion--are each loaded with eight bottles, grouped by region and divided between New World and Old World labels. The machines are temperature regulated, portion controlled and use an inert gas that eliminates oxidation, therefore preserving the flavors and aromas of the wine for up to a month.
The experience of ordering wine from a machine--and these are no mean wines, with some ranging in price from $10 a bottle up to $200--is unexpected.
Rather than evoking a Jetsons or novelty feel, the merger of oenology and technology feels like you've stepped into a vintage Italian coffee poster, where everything's sleek, stylish and hip. Most important, it's accessible--both literally and figuratively.
Bodovino's atmospherics are well tuned. Music is always playing, the low lighting, seating nooks and exposed brick walls feel intimate. A bar by the front of the space offers a more traditional tasting room experience, while, nearby, a refrigerated room houses more than 40 craft beers for folks more inclined to brews than vino.
Beyond wine (or beer), patrons both newb and aficionado can expand their palates not only with wine, but linger over small plates like house-made bruschetta, caprese and olive tapanade; flatbreads, salads and sandwiches; as well as offerings from a cheese case packed with potential pairings available for purchase by the flight or ounce. Cheese options are especially abundant, ranging from flights of regional options from America, France, Italy and Spain. Desserts include cheescake, brownies, tiramisu, and chocolate and berries.
"We have a lot of first dates here," said Wood, whose most recent wine experience was at The Breakfast Club in Moscow, which had a selection of about 20 wines. That's a far cry from Bodovino's expansive wine list.
"I felt like I was a wine connoisseur [there], but I don't even pretend to be an expert here," she said.
Liberated by technology, nobody at Bodovino has to prentend to be anything they aren't.