There is a lot for restaurateurs to love about wines on tap. Most appealingly, the wines served from stainless-steel kegs are, on average, less expensive than those served in bottles. For wineries, keg wines offer clear savings in the cost of bottling. Plus, kegs are more efficient than bottles to ship and store wine, which ultimately saves more cash.
Efficiency aside, the technology behind kegging also offers new options for wineries. At Red Hook Winery in Brooklyn, GM Darren Palace cites one instance in which the winery greatly improved a mediocre wine by pressurizing the wine and adding sparkle in the keg. The winery rechristened the venture “Brooklyn Brusco,” and it ultimately became a frequently requested wine in Red Hook’s portfolio.
Keg wines are also the green option. Their steel kegs are reusable, and eliminate the packaging in bottles, case boxes, labels, corks, and foil. There’s also very little spoilage with keg wines. As the wine is tapped, the kegs are pumped with argon and nitrogen to displace air. The result is wine that stays fresh for months without the need to discard unsold portions of wine that have become oxidized in opened bottles.
On the consumer end, the drinkers who grumble about paying $12 per glass of non-descript bottled wine will be pleased that tap wines cost only about $8 per glass. Here are four restaurants tapping into tap wines.
On Tap: Three wines from Gotham Project, one each of white, red, and rosé. All are available by $8 glass and by $25 half-liter (16.9 ounce) carafe.
The Gotham Project was launched by Charles Bieler and Bruce Schneider in 2010 with a Finger Lakes Riesling that was called “the finger” because it hailed from Seneca Lake, the “middle finger” of the Finger Lakes. In keeping with its anti-authoritarian stance, the all-keg wine distributor declared itself with a manifesto (“The Wine Tap Manifesto”) as though it were a radical political party or a revolutionary art movement. When we last checked, Truck was serving Gotham Project’s Empire Builder, a blend of Finger Lakes (NY) Riesling and Chardonnay, Charles and Charles rosé from Columbia County (WA), and the Filling Station Katas Tempranillo from Spain. 391 Old Post Rd, Bedford (914) 234-8900; truckrestaurant.com
On Tap: Six taps—three white, three red—devoted to a changing list of Gotham Project’s keg wines priced between $8.50 and $9 per glass. One additional tap is devoted to Tagine’s house-made and kegged sangria.
With space at a premium under the bar at his new French/Moroccan venture in Croton-on-Hudson, Co-Owner Craig Purdy appreciates that the compact, roughly five-gallon Gotham Project kegs economize on space that would have been stressed by bar fridges and wine coolers. Of the Gotham Project, he says, “We think it’s really cool. And we think we can give a better pour for the price.” 120 Grand St, Croton-on-Hudson (914) 827-9393; taginecroton.com
The New (and still unnamed at press time) Dobbs Ferry Pizza Restaurant by Chef David DiBari
On Tap: Five taps holding two white, two red, and (depending on the season) either a sparkling or rosé wine sourced from Gotham Project and UnoKeg, the Italian keg-wine division of Bedford International. While prices are still to be determined, the wines will be available in six-ounce glasses, 17-ounce half-carafes, and 33-ounce carafes.
At the new artisanal pizza restaurant that Chef DiBari is building in the vacant space recently held by Orissa, he and Cookery GM Ralph Rubino will reverse the usual order. All of the new restaurant’s beers will be served in bottles and cans while all of its wines will be poured from taps. The wines sourced from UnoKeg differ from those by the Gotham Project in that the company does not use steel kegs armed with gas replacement systems. Instead, UnoKeg’s wine is stored in recyclable PET (polyethylene terephthalate) containers that are lined with flexible plastic bags (which are also recyclable). As the wine is poured, compressed air is pumped into the outer PET container, collapsing the interior plastic bag and eliminating the wine’s exposure to air. 14 Cedar Street, Dobbs Ferry (no phone or website at press time)
On Tap: Six seasonally changing taps devoted to the 37 Gotham Project wines sold by Michael Skurnik Wines, $6 per glass.
Says Joe DeCicco, “For us, we were so beer-focused. We wanted to do something that would be sort of unique, but related to what we do. We didn’t want to deal with stocking bottles, and we’re already used to running tap lines and dealing with kegs. Plus, we feel like this is Martin Skurnik: Where else are you going get a $6 glass of wine of that quality?” 50 Independent Way, Brewster, NY (845) 278-0836; deciccos.com