HEAD SOMMELIER, TREDWELLS
Picture a bar in downtown Brooklyn, you open the door and are immediately imbibed by the noisy warmth. An array of taps line the bar top, glasses of wine being poured from each one. An idealistic scenario I know but it’s fast becoming a reality, one that has traversed the Atlantic and beyond into over 180 countries worldwide.
As a global movement, wine on tap is good for you, good for me and great for the environment. For us at Tredwells, it’s been nearly six months since we first had our taps installed. Six months of connecting, coupling, pouring and compressing some amazing wines delivered to our door in an environmentally friendly keg.
What is it
Wine on tap works in the same principal as beer taps. Wine arrives in a keg, and under pressure is pushed through a line connecting it with a conventional tap. The key to its success lies in the kegs themselves. Wines are sealed inside a collapsible aluminium bag that never comes into contact with oxygen even when attached to the taps themselves. This gives them a remarkable shelf-life of around 90 days. For restaurants and bars, this is fantastic as it dramatically reduces wastage, and means that for nearly three months, you will have the equivalent of between twenty six and forty bottles worth of wine all poured in perfect condition from first glass to last.
Storage space is dramatically reduced as well (for central London that is such a bonus). Kegs are lightweight too – essential as we have many flights of stairs at Tredwells!
Wines in bottles will of course always have a place and it’s worth remembering that many wineries actively seek lightweight glassware to help ease shipping costs. If you combine this with natural approaches in the vineyard, you can easily see how these small changes quickly stack up to have a lasting impact. It’s the same approach with kegs and taps – small changes, big impact. To give you an example, a couple months back I listed an Australian Montevecchio Rosso in 30 litre kegs. That 1 keg replaces 40 bottles and therefore saves collectively on 35kg of glass, cork and aluminium. If you then think about the cost of shipping forty bottles as opposed to one keg, you can quickly see as with the previous example how quickly these small changes stack up to a positive outcome.
Shipping costs are saved further still as the kegs we use are one-way, meaning that they don’t have to be returned to be refilled or cleaned. Instead, they are designed to be recycled and further improvements are being made in the manufacturing process, to ensure that eventually all new kegs will be completely made from recycled old ones.
Essentially taps enable restaurants to offer a more comprehensive range of wines by the glass. It’s also great for efficiency. If you then think about adding in other innovations, such as Coravin, you can quickly see how effective use of technology gives you a hugely accessible collection from ground to glass.
I guess then just as the wine and wider drinks industry is adapting to the changing world and utilising more technology to its advantage, it’s important for us too as we ourselves move into unchartered waters that we use the technologies at our disposal, both traditional and new, to make sure everything we produce, and in turn every glass we pour is as good as we can possibly make it.
So the next time your mate asks you to meet for a glass of wine, do please go and where available go for one from a tap – that small 125ml glass has such a positive impact for the world.