When The Sommelier's A Machine

For anyone who's at a loss when it comes to choosing the perfect bottle of wine for dinner, the Tokyo-based supermarket chain Daimaru Peacock has developed an electronic sommelier. The Wine Adviser, a square terminal installed over wine racks in its 10 newest stores, reads the bar code on nearly any label and instantly supplies information on the bottle: where and how it was made, nose and taste notes and what kinds of dishes, cheese and even bread it best pairs with. It recommended that a Bordeaux be served with roast beef, Maribo and Samsoe cheese and pain de campagne. The invention is the latest development in Japan's efforts to use more information technology in commerce. So far it's available only in the Daimaru Peacock stores and Queen's Isetan. Some users find the electronic sommelier far preferable to the human variety: it never tires of giving advice, and it doesn't expect a tip for its troubles.