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.
Amuse Wine Bar
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:


SEE ALSO: 35th Annual Hale ‘Aina Award Winners: The Best Restaurants in Hawai‘i


Amuse Wine Bar


doGet 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.


dontMiss 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.


doAsk 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.”


dontSkip 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).


SEE ALSO: 35th Hale ‘Aina Winner: The Beginner’s Guide to Japanese Hot Pot in Honolulu


Amuse Wine Bar


doFeel 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.


dontGet Sloppy Around the Taps

And don’t hang around the wine modules, or leave glassware at the counter.


doFeel 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.


dontForget Your Wine Card

If you accidentally leave it plugged into a machine, someone else might snag it. Drinks on you!


Amuse Wine Ba


doEat Dessert

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.


dontGet 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