Wine on tap is a growing trend in upscale bars and restaurants. Why is it so popular? There are several reasons. Here’s the rundown of what makes wine on tap the new big thing.
It Keeps Wine Fresher
First and foremost, serving wine on tap actually keeps the wine fresh—more so than serving wine from bottles. When a bottle is opened, the wine immediately begins to react with the oxygen in the air. Over the course of an evening, allowing the wine to “breathe” in the glass or in the bottle is fine—in fact, it is customary to allow red wines to breathe for about 30 minutes prior to serving in order to bring out the more complex flavors. Beyond that first evening, though, if the wine bottle is re-corked, the oxygen that remains in the bottle will continue to react with the wine, causing it to go bad within the week. With kegged wine, there is no possibility of oxidation. Once the keg is tapped, the contents are kept under constant pressure with a mixture of nitrogen gas and carbon dioxide. Oxygen has no opportunity to enter the system, which means that the wine stays fresh with its flavor intact. Wine can be stored in a tapped keg for up to a year and still taste exactly the way it did when it left the winery. What’s not to love about having the freshest possible wine?
In addition to keg systems keeping wine fresh, they’re also economical. A single keg holds the same quantity of wine as 26 bottles—heavy glass bottles that must be packaged and cushioned individually, adding to packaging needs, shipping weight, and transportation costs. Buying wine in kegs is essentially buying it in bulk, with all the economic benefits that go with that. Even more importantly for wine retailers, there’s the additional advantage of reduced waste. Because wine can spoil so quickly once it’s exposed to oxygen, establishments that sell wine by the glass often have to discard opened bottles. Imagine how many bottles of wine are discarded, from which the restauranteurs have only served one or two glasses, because wine in an opened bottle will spoil after a few days. With the wine on tap, this waste is eliminated because the keg is an oxygen-free environment. The wine stays fresh, the waste is eliminated, the consumers are happy, and the restaurant makes a greater profit. Everyone wins!
In addition to keeping wine fresher and being good for the bottom line, having wine on tap is also good for the environment. Remember those 26 bottles needed to hold the same amount of wine as a single keg? Remember the amount of packaging material needed to keep those bottles safely cushioned during transport? That’s a set of bottles and packaging material that won’t be going into a landfill or a recycling center if you use a keg instead. The lighter weight of a keg versus a case of bottles means that less energy is required to ship the keg, saving fuel and reducing carbon emissions during transit. So not only is wine on tap good for wine freshness and for profit margins, it’s also good for the earth.
For all these reasons, wine on tap is quickly gaining in popularity at bars and restaurants around the world. So next time your waiter offers you a bottle of wine, ask for what they have on tap instead!
Meg Gillette is a wine enthusiast who favors Malbecs. She writes and works for Vintage Cellars, a wine storage equipment distributor.