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Wine on draft

Silverjay Dec 5, 2011 08:16 PM

I'm a wine neophyte. What am I to make of wine on draft, something I'm seeing more often in NY these days? Does it just mean it is locally sourced and tapped from a barrel? Any particular advantages or turn ons to this type of serving? I'm curious.

  1. Bill Hunt Dec 5, 2011 08:46 PM

    Well, there are a couple of different ways, that one might encounter "wine on draft."

    Probably the oldest method is a device with an inert gas purge system, and the wine is forced through some spigot. The units can be from say four bottles to 32, and some have chilled compartments for white wines.

    Then, there are vending machines, that have a similar system.

    Finally, recently some places have gone to full "on tap" wines, where they are delivered in large containers, or kegs, and then fed to taps at the bar. In these instances, it seems that the wines are rather generic, unlike the other two versions, where regular 0.75 btls. are usually used. This seems to be a fairly recent option, and I am not sure how it's going. Initially, it was a bit of a "marketing" scheme, but does seem to be catching on. OTOH, it seems to be a bit like the old, "we have a red, a white and a blush wine," but we don't even know who produces them."

    I too am curious, how this latter "on tap" style will play out.


    6 Replies
    1. re: Bill Hunt
      jock Dec 6, 2011 01:07 AM

      Actually some of the wines going into the kegs are quite good. Not the reserve stuff but.much of it is a whole lot better than most inexpensive glass pours.

      It also keeps better than the systems that use 750s.

      1. re: jock
        Silverjay Dec 6, 2011 07:39 AM

        I should have said "on tap". I was drinking a beer at the time I wrote the post.....These places I've been to have a row of taps that look just as a row of beer taps. Here's one of the places I've seen the phenomenon- http://bkwinery.com/brooklyn-williams... .

        1. re: jock
          Midlife Dec 6, 2011 04:53 PM

          Why does it keep better? Less surface to air ratio? If gas is used, isn't it just the same CO2 that beer systems use? How does that work better than Nitrogen or Argon in the 750 systems?

        2. re: Bill Hunt
          khuzdul Dec 6, 2011 08:14 AM

          I think that the "on tap" style will work very well for the mid-range of restaurants which sell a lot of good but not great domestic wine "by the glass", restaurant chains as well as larger places which already have a tap system built out to be able to just add another keg or four. You can get some pretty tasty wines in kegs now (though the selection is still pretty limited.) The benefit of the compressed co2 keg systems is that at the end of the day, the restaurant doesn't have the remains of a few bottles of wine that goes unsold (though not unconsumed!) and thus a loss on the balance sheet, which can add up over the year to a significant amount. This of course only affects places which do not serve wines from bottles opened the night before and who serve wine by the glass to diners who care...

          The upfront cost of installing a full keg system and the maintenance routine is probably too steep for places serving generic slop out of jugs for the "all you can drink red or white with any dinner/entree order", those places don't pour out the opened jug at the end of the night and those consumers don't care if they are being served yesterday's wines - as long as there is a lot of it and it keeps on coming.

          The high end places will probably continue to emphasize selling wine by the bottle and their selection of wines by the glass will need to reflect a subset of their bottle list. That means that their selection requirements would prevent them from realizing the full benefit of selling wine on tap.

          1. re: khuzdul
            penthouse pup Dec 6, 2011 02:43 PM

            You probably know about the City Winery spot that serves their own concoctions on tap.
            It's a bit of a gimmick but as posters above point out, the economics of doing it and the
            improvement in freshness over many other preserving systems speaks to its worthiness.
            Interestingly, I have never heard of sake served this way (knowing that you're expert in
            matters Japonaise.)

            1. re: penthouse pup
              Silverjay Dec 6, 2011 06:30 PM

              Yeah, you would think fresh sake out of the tap would be a thing in Japan, but I've never seen it except in those dispenser type set ups with the bottles upside down.

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