A few restaurateurs in the United States have turned to some revolutionary ideas to overcome the perennial problem of wine by the glass: oxygenation. Sticking a cork back in the half empty bottle and returning it to the undercounter fridge behind the bar is common practice, but not even close to ideal for maintaining the quality and taste of the wine.
This often results in a lot of waste as the dregs of the bottle are dumped out, and the wine that is served is usually low end stuff that’s marked up heavily. This translates into a very poor value for the customer, and as wine appreciation grows in the U.S., they are demanding better quality the more refined their tastes become.
So what’s the revolutionary idea? Serve wine from a keg. Kegs allow wine to be stored for extended periods of time without exposing it to oxygen and therefore compromising taste. Serving wine at the proper temperature is also important, and wine in kegs allows a restaurant or bar to manage that factor much more accurately. Most importantly, wine kegs take a lot of the waste out of serving wine by the glass, which means you can serve a better wine at a decent price, which brings better value to your customers.
European restaurants have been serving wine from kegs for years, but wine culture is relatively new to the masses in America. As American tastes have evolved, the need for mastering the time and temperature factors that affect wine quality have necessarily followed suit.
Any restaurateur with sufficient motivation can convert an existing beer tap system to serve wine as well as beer. It can get expensive, however. Whether it’s worth it for your restaurant or bar mostly depends on how discerning your customer is when it comes to wine. Customers who really appreciate a good glass of wine will find wine on tap a great value, which will justify your investment. And finding ways to bring an extra level of value is what breeds customer loyalty, which lies at the heart of any successful restaurant.