Looking for a wine with that steak? Try the iPad

NEW YORK Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:05pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A Chicago steakhouse is among the latest in a growing list of eateries around the globe that have scrapped conventional wine lists and instead are offering diners an iPad loaded with wine information.

The apps contain photos, tasting notes, vineyard maps and even winemaker videos to help customer make a choice from the sometimes hundreds of wines on offer.

Matt Moore, co-owner of the Chicago Cut Steakhouse, said his restaurant still has a wine list.

"But we just hand them the iPad," he said.

Developed by his partner David Flom, the application includes Google flyover maps of the vineyards and even an 80-second video by Rob Davis of California's Jordan Winery's.

When the restaurant told John Jordan, 38, who took over the Sonoma winery from his parents about the app, he offered in-house produced videos of his vineyards and winery.

"People always want to know about the wines they're drinking," he said. "With this, you have the winemaker right there in your hands telling you about the harvest that year, the fruit, the fermentation. It couldn't get more personal," Jordan said during a visit to New York.

Patrick Martucci, chief executive of Incentient, LLC, which supplies digital wine lists on iPads to restaurants such as Claridge's in London, Olives and South Gate in New York and California Vintage in Hong Kong, said there is a cool factor to it.

"The guests do love it, but the main reason restaurants are doing it is it makes them money," he explained, adding restaurants have seen, on average, an 18 percent increase in wine sales.

"They make back their licensing fee in a day-and-a-half," he said.

Flom, who worked on his app for eight months before the restaurant opened in September, said he encourages customers to download it and use it before their visit.

"You know many wines improve with air and we encourage them to preselect wines so that we can open the bottle two-to-four hours before and let it breathe," he said.