Wine on tap trend surging in London

Being able to turn on your tap and have it run red with wine sounds like one of the more madcap ideas devised by Marie-Antoinette during an uneventful afternoon at Versailles, but the concept has become a reality in London and the trend is fast gathering pace.

As with many innovations in the wine world, the concept originated in the US and has taken an embarrassingly long time to trickle across the pond. Restaurants in key US cities like New York, LA, San Francisco and Atlanta have been selling wine from kegs since 2011 and the number of on-trade venues selling wine on tap in America mushroomed by 68% last year.

Leading the wine-by-the-keg charge in New York are Charles Bieler and Bruce Schneider, founders of The Gotham Project, which made its debut in 2011 with a Riesling in keg from the east side of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes.

Supplying venues like the Grand Central Oyster Bar in Grand Central station and Terroir in Manhattan, the dynamic duo helped change the way Americans consume wine. “We’re not just selling a concept, we’re selling a better glass of wine,” says Bieler, adding, “We want to offer wines that can compete with the best in the world at their price point.”

In the last four years the pair have grown their wine on tap offering considerably, which now includes a Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc, a Columbia Valley Chardonnay, a Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, a Provence rosé, a Sicilian Nero d’Avola, an old vine Viura from Rioja and a Mendoza Malbec.

Back in London, Vinoteca was one of the first to pioneer the trend. Encouraged by strong sales, last summer the wine bar and bistro chain started selling a Pfalz Riesling by Axel Neiss on tap from recyclable kegs for £3.95 a glass, which became an overnight success.

“It’s going off like a frog in a sock and is doing even better than we expected it to,” co-founder Charlie Young told db at the time. “People are happy chugging it as a thirst-quencher or drinking it as an accompaniment to summery dishes.”

Gus Gluck, manager of Vinoteca’s fifth site in King’s Cross, is full of enthusiasm for the company’s wine on tap offering. “It has been bloody successful – we sell more Riesling on tap than any other of our wines. You can’t play it safe in the wine game,” he warns, revealing that Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato is also proving popular on tap. Vinoteca’s next trick is a Pinot Noir on tap by Axel Neiss.

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