Is Wine on Tap the Wave of the Future?
Restaurants are increasingly bypassing bottles and embracing kegged wines.
We’re used to drinking beer on tap, but wine is all about the bottle, right?
Actually, wine on tap may be not only on the rise, but actually here to stay – the best thing to hit wine drinking since the decline in the dominance of the cork.
“Wine on tap is emerging from the shadows,” industry publication Nation’s Restaurant News recently declared. “Over the past 10 years, it’s gone from fad to staple on menus, offering benefits to consumers and operators.”
“Though the history of kegged wines is a young one, it’s a growing force,” Wine Enthusiast observed earlier this year.
Now embraced from coast to coast – from San Francisco’s wine-on-tap-trailblazing Bluestem Brasserie to New-York-based Shake Shack – kegged wine apparently has many advantages over the old-school bottled stuff.
Here are a few reasons to drink it in:
Freshness and taste: Wine sold by the glass through kegs eliminates many concerns about consistency and quality. One needn’t worry that, say, the glass of wine you’ve been poured is from a bottle that is corked or has been sitting open too long or negatively affected by improper storage. Stainless steel kegs provide “a completely inert environment, so the wine inside doesn’t age,” Wine Enthusiast notes. And even after a wine keg is tapped, it stays fresh for as long as three months.
Efficiency and waste reduction: Wines on tap are easier for serving staff to pour than bottled wine (no laborious bottle-opening!). They also cut down on waste – and not just by eliminating half-drunk bottles of wine going down the drain. According to one estimate, each barrel of wine translates into 26 bottles and 39 pounds of waste – boxes, foil, labels, corks – saved. And if you figure a restaurant with one tap may serve up 100 barrels per year, well, that’s a lot of stuff you’re keeping out of landfills or (best case) recycling bins. Fewer than 30 percent of glass wine bottles are recycled, NRN reports, citing data from the Glass Packaging Institute. Kegs, which can be refilled and reused, are more environmentally friendly.
Cost: The cost of a glass of wine from a keg is about 13 percent less than if the same wine had been poured from a bottle, Gotham Project, which supplies Shake Shack’s wine on tap, told NRN. That savings may be passed along to diners and drinkers, offering them better wine for a lower price.
And who wouldn’t drink to that?