A ‘Horrifying Trend’: The Case Against Wine on Tap

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Photo: Brea Souders

Buttermilk Channel is the latest restaurant to serve wine on tap, we learned this morning, but not everyone in the wine industry is seeing the new trend through rosé-colored glasses. James Silver, the GM of Peconic Bay Winery upstate, is so opposed to the practice that he penned a quite lengthy diatribe against it on New York Cork Report this week, and we have to admit he has some good points.

Proponents of tap generally tout the freshness factor — since pressurized kegs prevent the wine from souring when exposed to air, it can keep for weeks, instead of just a few days in a corked bottle. Yet Silver wonders how fresh his glass is really going to be. "I have no interest in drinking the wine that sits in the keg lines overnight or the first drop delivered from the tap nozzle where bacteria may grow overnight or even from the first wine passed through just cleaned keg lines." Bacteria, yeep! He goes on: "What are they using to clean them, and what does that do to my glass of wine? ... Of course I may not know that I got the wine from the recently bleached keg lines, so I’ll just have to assume that I don’t like this wine."

Forgoing bottles is also regarded by many to be an ecofriendly move, but Silver points out that shipping empty kegs back to wineries and having them cleaned has its own (possibly greater) environmental impact. He also contends that while keg wines tend to be artisan-made for now, bigger producers will come to dominate the market once the trend truly takes hold. And then you lose the romance. "No one who has ever saved a bottle of wine for a special occasion, aged a Burgundy for a decade, cradled a prized and 'precious' Cabernet in their cellar, or recalled a fabulous party while looking at the empties on the counter could think this is a good idea." Now that every place from Terroir Tribeca to the Breslin to Eataly is serving wine on tap, you might've had a chance to sip some. Does Silver have a point, or is he futiley resisting the inevitable direction the wine industry is moving? Let us know in the comments.

Op-Ed: The Horrifying Trend That is “Wine on Tap” (Jim Silver, Peconic Bay Winery) [New York Cork Report]