Luca Sena, owner of Old City’s venerable Ristorante Panorama in the Penn’s View Hotel, has the world’s largest temperature-controlled wine preservation and dispensing system. The Guinness World Record he recently received proves it. The system, which Sena helped design and build, is similar to a Cruvinet, but unlike those commercial units, his has the capacity to store up to 120 bottles of wine. “I knew it 20 years ago when I built it that it was the biggest wine system in existence,” Sena told Grub Street. “It just took them 20 years to find out.”
The system, which keeps open bottles of wine at cellar temperatures and pressurized with inert nitrogen, prevents oxidation and degradation of wine’s subtle flavors and aromas. Its existence is the direct result of Sena’s lifelong infatuation with wine. “When I was younger it was my passion,” Sena said. “First it was Italian wine, then I discovered Bordeaux, and I started discovering wines from California, Chile and Germany. I wanted to taste three or four different wines a day. I didn’t drink water; I only drank wine. Thank god I still have a liver.” To deal with the dozens of open bottles of wine that were piling up in his refrigerator, Sena purchased a Cruvinet large enough to hold 12 bottles, which he kept in the wine cellar at La Famiglia, the restaurant he opened with his father and brothers prior to Panorama. His thirst for new and interesting varietals quickly outgrew the Cruvinet’s capacity, so he bought another one. Soon after, he picked up a third for his home. When opening Panorama, he enlisted the help of a fellow oenophile who was also an engineer to construct a system large enough to house his growing collection. More recently Sena completely overhauled the system, simplifying it, making it more efficient and relocating its compressor to another room. “The reason why we built this thing is because of my love of wine - lots and lots of different wine,” Sena said.