Monday, 26 December 2011

Wine on tap thriving in US

A growing number of US restaurants are starting to serve wine on tap from kegs. As reported on, daring venues in San Francisco, LA, Las Vegas, Atlanta, New York and Detroit are all in on the act. The reusable, five-gallon kegs, holding the equivalent of 25 bottles of wine, store the product for more than five months, keeping by-the-glass wines fresher for longer. Pumped out from the keg, the wine is never exposed to oxygen, making the last glass as fresh as the first, thus creating zero waste.

Leading the wine by the keg charge in New York are Charles Bieler (pictured) and Bruce Schneider, founders of The Gotham Project, which makes a Riesling in keg from the east side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes. Supplying to the Grand Central Oyster Bar in New York City’s Grand Central Station, the Red Rooster in Harlam and Terroir Tribeca in Manhattan, the dynamic duo are dedicated to changing the way Americans drink wine.

“We’re not just selling a concept, we’re selling a better glass of wine,” Bieler tells me. I wanted to do something locally. I was always amazed by the trend of eating local, but when it came to drinking local, people sort of ignored it.” Now 25 New York restaurants carry Gotham Project Riesling and an equal number outside the state have taken it on.

“We chose Riesling because I love it, but more importantly because it’s the wine New York State does best,” admits Bieler, who is working on putting a sparkling wine in keg. We want to offer wines that can compete with the best in the world at their price point.”

The flamboyant winemaker, who once traversed the US in a pink Cadillac wearing a pink tuxedo to promote his father’s Provence rosé, thinks Stateside wineries and retailers will jump on the keg bandwagon once they see it working in the on-trade. Bieler is toying with the idea of bringing the wine in keg concept to London. I could see wine on tap working in laid back wine-focused venues with extensive by-the-glass offerings, like Brawn, Terroirs, Vinoteca, Artisan & Vine and 28-50. Perhaps we’ll be drinking English sparkling on tap by the end of 2012?

Charles Bieler photo (c) James Estrin – The New York Times/Redux

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