All Wined Up

Tap That! Wine From a Keg

winetap-dcwineweekdotcom Guest post by Tanisha Townsend
Photo via nwongpr

We’ve all seen wine with cork tops, screw tops and even wine out of a box. But did you know that you can now drink wine out of a keg? Yes, you read that correctly! Wine–good wine–is being produced and sold to quite a few restaurants around DC by the keg and served from a tap.

How does it work?
Once the wine has completed fermentation, it goes into a keg instead of a bottle. The keg has tubing (what connects it to the tap), and it contains a gas barrier. There are small amounts of carbon dioxide left in wine, which mixes with the nitrogen from the keg to push the wine up to the tap so it can be dispensed into your glass. This is very similar to the process of beer.

Each time a wine tap is used and a glass of wine is poured, the empty space left behind in the keg is filled with an inert gas to prevent oxidation. The addition of this gas allows the wine keg to be used for weeks (if necessary) as opposed to just a few days if the wine was poured straight from the bottle. And with a keg holding about 26 bottles of wine, think about how this helps the environment!

How does the aging process work in a keg?
Just as with a screw top, there is no further development of the wine in the bottle, or keg in this case. Wines on tap are meant to be consumed when they are still young, fresh and crisp. Aging would develop off flavors.

Does extra gas affect the wine?
This constant ‘gassing’ of wine must definitely have some effect on the wine itself. The idea that gas is used to push the wine through the keg and then to fill the empty space in the keg when wine is used has some people feeling that the wine in their glass might not be as fresh from the keg as from a bottle. However, using gas to keep wine fresh isn’t new; it is often used by consumers at home or even restaurants to keep wine fresh when it’s served by the glass.

Where can you find wine on tap in DC?

Have you ever had wine on tap before? What did you think? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @DCWineWeek or @girlmeetsglass.

Tanisha Townsend is a DC-based wine and spirits educator and consultant. She is also the creator of the blog Girl Meets Glass, a site dedicated to making wine and spirits education accessible to everyone from the curious appreciator to the trade professional. You can find Tanisha on Facebook or on Twitter via @girlmeetsglass.