A historic restaurant. Of course. But at the same time the spearhead of our cuisine and food and wine innovation in our country. Agli Amici from 1887 represented an important challenge for ENOWEB due to the particular characteristics of a cellar and a wine list built bottle by bottle, following his personal research instinct by Michela Scarello sommelier, room manager and owner of the restaurant together with his brother chef Emanuele.
Michela Scarello, first of all do you want to present your restaurant?
“Agli Amici dal 1887 is located in Godia on the outskirts of Udine. It is a restaurant with a great family tradition. This year - among other things - we are celebrating 130 years of activity. This is a quite unique fact especially for the family continuity of this management. Today my brother and I represent the fifth generation of the family that deals with this activity which has naturally changed a lot over time.
We were born as a small tobacco and colonial shop and today we have created, starting from what was once the classic country inn, a must for enthusiasts and gourmets who come from all over the world to learn about our cuisine and our style. With us, of course, wine plays a fundamental role both because Friuli is a region highly suited to wine-growing and because good wine has always been the best companion of good food. In recent years, therefore, alongside the cuisine (which today can boast two Michelin stars) and the quality of our hospitality (testified by the fact that we have recently also joined the prestigious Relais & Châteaux circuit) our cellar has also grown considerably. "
Grown in what terms? What are your numbers today?
“Today we have about 850 references, mostly we are talking about Italian wines with an important presence from our region. It is a winery that - as I said - has grown over the years, quite deep and - I dare to say - not obvious. "
What do you mean by "not obvious"? Then I imagine that over the years you have also had the opportunity to accumulate historical bottles in the cellar?
“No look it's not necessarily like that. Our cellar has a fairly fast rotation so it is not what can be called an “archive cellar”. I say unfortunately in some cases but our vision is different. I try, every year, to always give new sensations to my customers and purchases are decided from time to time based on what is my personal research which is then combined with the dishes offered in our kitchen. Sometimes it is also a new dish that suggests us how to orient our purchases. Ours is therefore a very lively, very dynamic winery. Built on topicality."
Even your wine list, as I was told by the technicians who installed the program, is anything but obvious as a construction methodology?
Yes, unlike traditional wine lists that are built according to the classic subdivisions by territory or vine, our wine list has a very particular structure. I must also say that in E-Group they did a really good job because we wanted our wine list on tablet to be built exactly in the same way as the printed wine list we bring to the customer. And in this we have been satisfied.
For example we have a division that concerns the "classic" method, therefore Friuli, Franciacorta and Champagne. Then we have a chapter called tales of "ponca, gravel and bora" (++++) where we offer not only wines from Friuli Venezia Giulia but also from Slovenia and Croatia because they are very interesting border territories where there are really many affinities with the our region. Then we still have chapters (I like to call them that) dedicated to two great vines, Pinot Noir and Riesling. In this case, it seemed right to keep a subdivision by grape variety because in our opinion these are two great "transversal" varieties that have in fact found their home magnificently in different regions of Europe and beyond. In this case, it seemed right to keep a subdivision by grape variety because in our opinion these are two great "transversal" varieties that have in fact found their home magnificently in different regions of Europe and beyond. When I speak of Europe I am referring to the whole continent, therefore not only to the most famous French and German excellences but to the whole continent. Then there are other chapters dedicated to other truly extraordinary vines such as Verdicchio. Instead, where the connotation of the soil and the climate are really relevant, it seemed right to me to talk more about territories and regions, and so here are the wines of the Dolomites, the Alps. Here we imagined that this land somehow spoke to wine or rather told itself through it.
There are many chapters, each of which tells a story focused on different assumptions: there are cases in which the division is regional (therefore Piedmont, Tuscany); other cases in which the vine is the protagonist; still others in which the list focuses on important regions of other countries such as the Loire, Burgundy etc. "
When you adopted ENOWEB did you have problems reproducing such an articulated structure on tablets and digitally?
"No. We had no difficulty in the sense that we obtained exactly the desired result on digital, our wine list on tablet, as an initial presentation, corresponds exactly to the wine list that we are able to print in the configuration we have chosen.
I believe that to achieve this result it was necessary for the supplier to insert some new sub-categories but in practice this did not cause any problems for us. In reality, I don't know much about these aspects but what matters from my point of view is that in the end the result has arrived. "
What do you propose to your customers as a tool for choosing wine, the traditional paper wine list or the tablet?
“It is not me who chooses but the customer himself. We offer everyone both and leave the choice to them. However, I must say that it still happens today to bring the paper wine list to the table more often than the tablet despite the fact that the tablet is a more efficient, more current and updated tool than the paper.
The paper wine list, although you can reprint it several times (we print it at home) you cannot always have it updated, so before lunch and dinner they should be double-checked and fixed even if this is not always possible. Despite the warning we give to our customers, guests still prefer paper wine list. "
Does this choice depend on the age of the customer?
"In reality this is not the case, I would say that age does not matter, indeed often young people ask us for the card. Indeed, the opposite is true. "
And are the paths for choosing wine different depending on the instrument?
"Yup. In my opinion, yes. Those who use the tablet start from paths they already know. Just type in the name of the territory, the vine or the producer that you know and you start from there and then start the search and the choice. Those who approach the paper wine list, on the other hand, look for routes suggested by us and therefore it also happens quite frequently that for this reason the customer is more attracted to meeting and wanting to try new things regarding his wealth of knowledge. In theory it should be the other way around but this probably depends on the unspoken structure of our wine list. However, I personally don’t give any evaluation of this, what interests me is that the customer drinks and is happy with the choice made regardless of how he got there. But it seems to me that those who use the tablet in the end rely on something more comfortable and better known. That's all."
Before introducing ENOWEB, how was the winery managed?
“With a lot of effort actually because we didn't have a management system. We did everything “by hand”, we loaded and unloaded the bottles with the help of an Excel file, as did many other restaurants, even if this system generated several difficulties, first of all the fact that very often we didn’t have a clear picture of the situation. Now everything is much simpler, it takes a lot less time, above all it guarantees us to always have control of the situation with a certainty close to 100% even if we periodically still do the physical inventory of the bottles in the cellar for safety. "
Who uses the program from you? Did you have any difficulties in the learning phase?
"I do the loading and unloading of the bottles myself, then one of my collaborators takes care of the inventory. However, we didn’t have any kind of problem using it and every time we found ourselves with some doubts, the answer or clarification was received effectively and immediately. I can truly say that I am very satisfied with the choice made and I only have a small regret that I hope in time to be able to fill. "
“You see every day I realize, more and more, that with the accumulated data and with the available functions ENOWEB could be used to help me in my work in various other ways, but unfortunately I have not yet been able to take the time to investigate these aspects. I hope to be able to do it as soon as possible. "
(++++) “Ponca” is the term used in Friuli Venezia Giulia to call the sandstone marl of Eocene origin, the result of millenary stratifications that characterize the Collio area. It is a soil rich in salts and microelements that give the wine a specific and unmistakable connotation.
Piergiovanni Mometto [www.mometto.net]