Beer manufacturers panicked when Americans started to prefer sipping wines than gulping beers. Beer sales are said to have flattened since 2003, while the United States’ wine consumption rose to 30% in the last ten years. U.S. has surpassed Italy as the number two buyer of wine, next to France. With the emergence of the wine on tap the past two years, more panic and alarm has gripped the beer industry—especially now that U.S. wine manufacturers are joining in the bandwagon.
Catching the wine on tap trend, more and more U.S. wine producers are now shipping their wines in kegs, just like beers. Chris Hall, general manager and co-proprietor of the Long Meadow Ranch winery in Napa, California, said that he got the concept during a recent trip to Italy. He saw that serving great wine on draft (and appearing on their wine lists), instead of the usual glasses or bottles, have now become really common in Italian casual restaurants. He was pleasantly amazed at how great-tasting the wine was. “No pretense– just good, honest wine,” he said.
David Graves of Saintsbury Vineyard, Hall’s neighbor in Napa, also ships Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in delivery trucks that resemble any other beer truck. The Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays are packaged in kegs that contain a corresponding amount of 26 bottles of wine. “Using kegs guarantees that the customer always gets a fresh glass when he orders.”
Wine producers are said to use a mixture of nitrogen and a little carbon dioxide to press the wine from the keg, thus supplying a mantle over the wine and guarding it from oxidation.
It seems that this new wine packaging has spread fast in U.S. wine companies, as many more labels are following suit. Some are using traditional wine containers such as French Oak wine barrels, while others are using recyclable kegs.
The idea of wine on tap has been tremendously accepted by Europeans and Americans; many are actually saying that this method of serving wine is the magnificent future of bars and restaurants that focus on by-the-glass wine servings in their wine lists. The delight does not stop with the business owners – it is felt by wine lovers too.
And it’s not about the tap. It’s about the keg. The idea of using tap on wine bottles have been employed for many years with the goal of preserving wine from oxygen – but the system was never perfected as it was found to be too complex (there’s always an interweave of hoses that hopes to repulse the oxygen with equally complex gases) and too costly. And despite all the hassle, the wine, more often than not, does not remain fresh.
Some restaurant and bar owners in Atlanta and Sta. Monica got frustrated with this and realized they can actually serve great wine out of a keg, just like what they do with beers, since kegs hold out the air, and keep the wine flawlessly fresh for several months. The idea developed and soon became a trend.
Now wine manufacturers are actually packaging and shipping it in drafts. Whilst there was once an uncertainty if the public will accept the idea, two years have proved that the public is receptive and that the consumers love the concept. Let’s now get ready as a Pinot Noir Keg or Chardonnay Draft will soon appear in restaurants’ and bars’ wine lists. It’s certainly a hip trend that soon the whole world will catch on.
Many say it’s not just a fad. The move makes the end product cheaper — much to the joy and pleasure of not just the restaurant and bar owners, but more importantly, the consumers.