35th Hale ‘Aina Winner: How to Help Yourself at a Self-Serve Wine Bar
The do’s and don’ts of helping yourself to the good stuff at Amuse Wine Bar inside the Honolulu Design Center.
Photos: Courtesy of Amuse Wine Bar
You arrive at Amuse Wine Bar, grab a seat at the picnic-table-style high tops (it’s mostly communal seating, with limited reservations accepted between 5 and 6:30 p.m.), and a server brings you wine glasses and a menu. Now what?
Navigating the 70-plus wines of Hawai‘i’s only self-serve bar system can be daunting. Luckily, general manager Michael Moore offers guidance for the first-timer:
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Get a Sense of Layout
Your server will give you a rundown of wines, with similar varietals grouped together. “So if you like a Napa cab, there are similar things around it so you can try something new,” Moore says.
Miss Your Pour
When pressing the button for a 1-ounce pour, make sure your wine glass is directly under the spout. “It happens sometimes; people misgauge the distance and wine will suddenly be pouring onto the floor or their shoes,” Moore says.
Ask the Staff Questions
“Picking a wine to try out of the dozens available may seem intimidating,” says Moore. “Sometimes people say they want a sweet red wine, but do they mean ‘sweet’ as in sugary or fruitful? Asking questions will help the staff guide you.”
Skip Happy Hour
Amuse’s wine stations require a special card to operate, which servers can load up with any amount and can be shared among your friends. The best deal’s from 5 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday: Score a $50 card for just $30 (most pours are in the $2 to $4 range).
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Feel Free to Experiment
If you’re feeling adventurous, try mixing two different wines to create your own blend. Or get several glasses and create your own flight.
Get Sloppy Around the Taps
And don’t hang around the wine modules, or leave glassware at the counter.
Feel Free to Order a Wine If You Like It
If you’re smitten with a vintage, you can always order a glass or an entire bottle (on a separate tab). You’re not limited to the 1-ounce pours.
Forget Your Wine Card
If you accidentally leave it plugged into a machine, someone else might snag it. Drinks on you!
Amuse shares Stage Restaurant’s kitchen, which serves food until 10 p.m. Stop into Stage for dessert—and a dessert wine, such as a Banyuls or a port, for a nightcap.
Get Drunk and Attempt to Ride the Giant Horse Lamp
We know it’s tempting.
Amuse Wine Bar in the Honolulu Design Center, 1250 Kapi‘olani Blvd., (808) 237-5428, stagerestauranthawaii.com/amuse-wine-bar
READ MORE STORIES BY JAMES CHARISMA