better for the environment
Using as many ingredients that are local and community-based as possible is part of the business plan at Found, Evanston,
Ill. That’s one of the reasons owner Amy Morton opted for a
wine on tap program. She’d hoped to capitalize on the wines of
Michigan and Southern Illinois. When she discovered that those
wineries weren’t set up to provide keg wines, she stayed with the
concept anyway. Her No. 1 reason was that the process is green.
“We are responsible for the environment. We have to do this,”
Morton uses her beer dispensing equipment for the wine
program. She has six taps, and usually offers three beers and
three wines. The wines are served by the glass. “Many customers
don’t even know they’re on tap,” she says.
The positive effect wine on tap can have on the environment
also was a selling point for Aimee Maher, beverage director for
Table 301 restaurant group, Greenville, S.C., which owns Nose
Dive, a gastropub. Customers there can choose from five white and
four red wines on tap. The wine on tap program uses Vinotemp
equipment, and has been a learning experience for Maher.
A couple of years ago, she decided to drop all bottles and sell
only from the keg. Wine sales dropped, and wine by the bottle
was put back on the menu. Nevertheless, she is committed to the
on-tap concept, not only for the quality of the wine, but for the
green aspect. “Keg wines are in keeping with our farm-to-table
pub fare, and the lack of bottles, labels and corks is better for the
environment,” she says.
better for the bottom line
Dispensing wine by the keg isn’t necessarily more profitable
or less expensive. “I can get a better price for the wine selling
bottles or by the glass from a bottle,” Maher says.
She also has noticed that at least the East Coast prices for keg
wines have gone up. She believes that’s due, in part, to the length
of time it takes the kegs to get back to the winery and the fact that
some kegs are never returned. But, she expects as more wineries
join in on selling wines by the keg, prices will come down.
Although Amidzich typically pays about $200 for a keg of
wine, higher-end wineries have kegs priced as high as $425. He
believes that will change. “Wine by the keg is going over so well,
I think prices will start to drop once wineries make the initial
equipment investments,” he says. He will pass on that savings to
his customers, as he does now.
Even with high-priced wines, Amidzich still feels he’s saving
money. There’s no pouring wine down the drain because it hasn’t
Wine on tap is experiencing some growing pains. And it may
have some drawbacks. “You lose the romance of the bottle on the
table. And some guests who would drink another glass from a
bottle are hesitant to order a second pour,” Maher says.
In general, though, customers like the concept and like
getting better quality at a lower cost, Amidzich says. Those
selling points are strong, and people in the industry believe the
concept is here to stay.
“The category has a lot of room for growth,” Donahoe says.
SUzANNE HALL HAS BEEN WrITING ABOUT CHEFS, rES TAUrANTS, FOOD AND WINE
FrOM HEr HOME IN SODDy DAISy, TENN., FOr MOrE THAN 25 yEArS.
wine is put in kegs at Free Flow wines’ Napa facility, then sent to distributors for
delivery to restaurants and hotels.