Grape Tips Thursday – August 27, 2015: Wine In A Keg: What’s The Deal With Wine On Tap?

This Week In Wine 101: Wine In A Keg

When you first hear the idea of ‘wine on tap,’ what are some of the images that come to mind? When I was first introduced to ‘wine on tap’ I had so many thoughts and questions racing through my mind. While I had no problem imagining what it might look like, the only question I was concerned with was, “does it taste different from wine in a bottle?” The experience left me looking forward to the future as I later discovered that ‘wine on tap’ might be the next big thing to hit bars and restaurants.


Why The Sudden Shift To Wine On Tap?

Over the years owners of bars and restaurants noticed they were losing money on wines that were spoiled, or were passed their expiration date. As a result, they would have to continuously toss out many bottles. This issue is what led owners to search for a solution. The answer, ‘wine on tap,’ proved more than capable of significantly cutting expenses, profit losses and increased sales! Without the probability of spoilage, bottle costs, carton containers, corks, cork taint, and transportation expenses, money was saved for better use. Instead of purchasing containers with a dozen bottles of wine or more, owners could invest in several kegs. A single keg can contain between 20 – 26 bottles of wine. But that’s not all, the production process is green friendly too and many owners recycle and re-use the kegs.

Business owners are not the only ones enjoying the benefits of offering wine on tap. Consumers were quick to recognize the enormous price difference along with the quality of wine they enjoyed. If you haven’t noticed already, offering ‘wine on tap’ has spread throughout Los Angeles, San Francisco, Napa Valley, and continues to expand. What’s more, other places like: Atlanta, Traverse City, New York are all on aboard with the ‘wine on tap’ ship and more cities can be expected to jump aboard in the coming years.


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How Does Wine On Tap Work & Taste?

It’s pretty simple. After the wine has gone through the final stage of fermentation it’s placed into a stainless steel tank to age. Once aged, the wine is then transferred to a stainless steel keg. Some restaurants or bars may have plastic kegs, however, plastic containers/kegs have a history of developing leaks. Today, most owners choose stainless steel kegs to hold wine because of its resilience to outside pollutants.

Once connected to the keg and tap system, a gas (either nitrogen or argon) go in the keg and wine pours out. No need to let the wine breathe or aerate the wine maintains its fresh quality in the stainless steel kegs for a long, long time. Wines served on tap are generally wines that are young and require no aging.

When it comes to the taste many individuals notice a subtle difference that is often hard to describe or articulate, although it does not necessarily reflect the wine in a bad way. For others it is better, offering noticeably fresher qualities and features that are absolutely delish.


Is Wine On Tap Affordable?

To top it off, ‘wine on tap’ is affordable! Instead of seeing prices range from $9 and up, imagine paying as little $4 – $12 for a single glass of wine and never having to send it back because the wine had cork taint, was stale or was spoiled in some other way. It’s a fun way to discover new wines and expose your palate to different styles. During a trip to San Francisco a friend and I popped into a chic, intimate, low-key bar called the Wine Kitchen, nestled in the NoPa Neighborhood of San Francisco, where I enjoyed their 2013 Cabernet/Merlot, Harrington WK Exclusive blend on tap. Truly a great place to relax and enjoy a nice glass of wine after a long week and a must see if you’re in the area!


Where Do We Go From Here?

Where is the future headed? No one can be too sure, although I believe we can expect to see more bars and restaurants feature ‘wine on tap.’ The benefits of ‘wine on tap’ ultimately cuts costs on transportation, shipping, avoids pollutants that could taint the wine, is environmentally friendly, beneficial for the owner of a restaurant/bar along with their patrons, it lasts longer, is fresh and tastes exactly how the wine is meant to taste. Need I say more?

Share, at, your thoughts and experiences of different wines you tried on tap and the name of the restaurant or bar. We’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions. Cheers!



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