The Real Story With Wine on Tap

Wine on Tap

Wine on tap, you’ve probably heard of it before but is it worthy of the hype? We visited a Seattle wine bar boasting 6 wines on tap to find out for ourselves.

Wine on tap doesn’t call for a fancy eno-machine, it’s just wine coming in a keg through a tap, like beer.
 


After trying several wines on tap we’re happy to announce they don’t taste any different than wine out of the bottle (except for a frothy moment right out of the tap). So why hasn’t this method of wine delivery taken off? We don’t know. It should.


Does Wine on Tap Age Well?

Technically speaking, wine in a keg should last a long time.

First, it’s in a larger vessel. It’s common knowledge that large format bottles keep wine fresher for longer. A standard cylinder keg of wine is equivalent to 8 double magnums of wine, which is bigger than a Nebuchadnezzar: the largest standard bottle of wine available.

The Wines of California Map

The Wines of California Map

Get to know the regions and the wines of California on this illustrated map.

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Second, it’s dark. Light is bad for both white and red wine. Wine on tap is stored in a light-proof vessel, completely in the dark.

Third, there’s no oxygen. A keg will keep wine similar to a screw top bottle.
 

Wine on Tap Charles and Charles Wine Keg Washington
Charles and Charles keg wine from Washington State.

How Much Wine in a Wine Keg?

A standard cylinder keg of wine contains 5 gallons or 24 bottles of wine. There are also pony kegs available, which can hold 32 bottles of wine. When full, a cylinder keg weighs 58 lbs.
 

Ecologically Sustainable?

24 empty glass bottles weigh approximately 36 lbs and an empty wine cylinder keg weighs only 7.5 lbs. So the difference in cost of shipping that extra mass around is substaintial. Additionally, cylinder kegs are stainless steel and reusable. Yep. Sustainable.
 

Wine on Tap Henri Schock Bottlehouse
Henri Schock fills a glass of malbec on tap at Bottlehouse in Seattle, WA

Get Your Own Wine on Tap

We all want one. So what do you need to do to have your own keg of wine?

First, if you’re buying a kegerator, make sure to use all stainless steel fittings. Henri Schock at Bottlehouse says chrome and other metal fittings will make wine taste awful. He also recommends setting your keg up with tubing that is UV sensitive to ensure that your wine doesn’t get any light damage.

Perhaps the biggest problem you’ll have is acquiring a keg of wine for private use. Currently, the TTB has to approve all alcohol sales in the United States and the sale of a 5 gallon container of wine is a gray area. The winery has to be bonded to sell large format wine by the gallon. If they are, you can get a keg filled from your favorite winery.

Wine Map of Italy

Wine Map of Italy

Get to know the regions and the wines of Italy on this illustrated map.

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About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly