Good Wine, on Tap
Following wineries’ success with screw caps, restaurants and bars try their hand at making wine more accessible
We all chuckled at screw caps—until studies showed consumers loved them. Well, now bars and restaurants are starting to employ methods—such as automatic wine dispensing and wine on tap—that enable them to offer a variety of high-quality wines at a lower cost, without having to sell the entire bottle.
At Stave Wine Lounge, customers can taste myriad wines from boutique producers, some of which, according to owner Eric Gordon, are not available for tasting anywhere in the area. There is no one pouring, as the entire system is automated: Guests simply purchase a tasting card, slip it into the tasting machine, select the wine they’d like to try, press a button—and out comes their one-ounce sample. The cost of each taste ranges from $1 to $8 (the latter for wines such as a rare Palmaz Cabernet Sauvignon) and is automatically deducted from the card. The wines stay fresh, as air never enters the bottle, and Stave rotates its selection among small, local producers and international regions. Says Gordon: “No one wants to buy an expensive bottle or even glass of wine without tasting it first.”
Another tasting innovation is serving wine from a keg. With this method, restaurants can serve wines at a lower cost, and they don’t need to worry about “corked” wine. The method is catching on, as local wineries line up to add their wines to the selection. Not surprisingly, a pioneer in this technique is Silverado Brewing Company, whose wines cost $6 or $7 for generous, seven-ounce pours. Just down the road, the CIA’s restaurant has started offering a Russian River Sauvignon Blanc from Sauvignon Republic on tap for a mere $5. The most ambitious program, however, is at Cuvée, the new, locals-
oriented restaurant, which offers up to a dozen wines on tap, including Pinot Noir from owner Roger Roessler’s Roessler Cellars in Sonoma.
Other entrepreneurs are poised to offer this service, and it may not be long before you see good wine on tap at your local restaurant.