Wine on tap trend surging in London

In an exciting development for the trend, fine dining restaurant Avenue in St James’s has just taken on four Californian wines on tap from Roberson, illustrating that the concept is capable of moving beyond the realms of casual venues. Avenue was an early adopter of Coravin, so is clearly keen to bring the latest technological innovations in wine to its discerning diners.

“It’s great that a restaurant of that calibre is supporting the idea as high-end venues are the core of Roberson’s business,” says Green, adding, “Avenue is the first classic restaurant to sell wine on tap – it will be interesting to see how it’s received there.” He is also in talks with D&D London and Gordon Ramsay Holdings about the offering.

The benefits of wine on tap are obvious – it saves a considerable amount on packaging and shipping costs, which can be passed on to the consumer, meaning they get a higher quality wine at entry-level. The recyclable kegs are also considerably more eco-friendly than their bottled counterparts, lowering a wine’s carbon footprint and saving restaurants’ storage space, which for a casual dining venue is often in short supply.

In terms of the quality of the wine, the keg format ensures the wine stays fresher for longer, guaranteeing the consumer a consistent serve rather than the prospect of being handed an oxidised wine that’s been lounging in a bottle for days.

“I have no doubt that wine on tap will take a sizable chunk of the casual dining sector within five years,” proclaims Bibendum director Willie Lebus. “It offers huge flexibility to customers who already enjoy such advantages in the world of beer, and will help to democratise wine by bringing high quality examples to a much wider audience.”

MacInnes of Jascots is equally gung-ho about wine on tap’s prospects in the UK. “Wine on tap will go mainstream when people realise how good the quality is. In two to three years it will be accepted as a way of serving wine and will herald a new dawn in terms of the way wine is perceived,” he predicts.

Roberson’s Green describes wine on tap as “the future” of by-the-glass offerings. “It’s an irresistible proposition – there’s no smoke and mirrors. The cost savings mean you can spend more on the wine in the glass, giving the consumer a better wine for the same price.

It doesn’t take away from the theatre of the serve as it’s replacing by the glass wines, which are largely poured out of eyeshot, and taps allow customers to try before they buy, which will encourage them out of their comfort zones,” he says.

The next step will be for producers to take inspiration from craft brewers and start introducing quirkily branded tap handles to bar tops. As for the competition, Green welcomes it, believing a rising tide lifts all ships.

“Any fledgling concept has a better chance of succeeding when several people are making noise in the category, so we’re keen for other players to enter the game,” he says. Suppliers take note – it’s time to tap into the trend.

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