I’ve intended to bring this topic up with the next local BC winemaker I run into, but a recent article in the SF Gate has again sparked my interest. In San Francisco, a trend towards serving kegged wine from a tap, as you would beer, is gaining steam with many sommeliers. Carl Sutton is one California winemaker I’ve met who has had success selling his wine in kegs. A local winery fills a small sized keg (often the 19L ones used for soda syrup) with wine that is still being stored in tank and intended for early consumption, it’s then shipped directly to a restaurant and hooked up to a converted beer line which pumps inert gas such as argon into the keg at a low pressure and keeps the wine from oxidizing. You save some of the wastefulness and costs associated with packaging and shipping (up to $3 a bottle), which would hopefully be passed on to the consumer. You also avoid costly faults often occurring post bottling – such as corkage via TCA. The benefits make me wonder why this isn’t being done already by anyone (that I’ve heard of anyways) in our fine province of British Columbia and I figure it must be one of three reasons:
1. It’s illegal. Maybe something our lawmakers have left in place from prohibition (like many of the other existing liquor laws) restricting the vessels or size of containers wine is allowed to be sold in. It seems strange, but is completely likely. Can anyone shed light on that?
2. Fear of consumer perception. It comes out of a keg and not a 5 lb bottle with a cleverly designed label – must be insipid right? I’m of the idea that a good sommelier can sell good wine to anyone, regardless of what it comes out of. Plus, look at all the free press it’s generating for restaurants and winemakers in California.
3. No one has put the energy into making it happen.
I’d love to hear your comments or concerns…