The next time you are dining out, take a quick gander at the "by the glass" wine list and you might see something quite surprising: a "wines on tap" list. While you may be appalled at the lack of charm and tradition that comes with getting your wine out of a tap, the experience might leave you pleasantly surprised.

What's in a Tap? Once again, Europe is leaps and bounds ahead of us in the trend department. Serving wine out of a cask is second nature in Italy or France. However, here in the ole US we like our wines bottled with fancy labels and fancier prices. In the last few years however, that has begun to change.

Restaurants across the country are popping up with kegs of wine in their back rooms. How does it work? Instead of shipping out bottles, the Winery ships out a keg. When the restaurant receives it, they simply tap it and serve.  Seems simple enough right? Pioneers of this trend seem to think so and they cite several pros to its institution.

“Saving the World, One Keg at a Time.” No this is not the tag line for an alcohol-prone comic book hero. It is the tag line for Free Flow Wines, a leading supplier of wine in kegs. They, along with several others hopping on this train, believe this trend is better for the environment, better for business and better for the consumer. How so? 

Save the Trees, Drink out of a Tap. Each Keg is re-usable and can hold upwards of 25 bottles! That means there is greater efficiency across the map – in shipping, in waste removal, and in packaging. All that adds up to a reduced carbon footprint.  The Ritz Carlton hotel chain has taken to this trend, with a full page of their menu devoted to “by the cask” wines.

The bottom of the menu holds this disclaimer: “Each steel keg put into service eliminates the carbon emissions equivalent of taking a car off the road for two years. “ Now you can tell your friends your end of the day glass of wine is a charitable endeavor!

A Bottle Saved is a Bottle Earned. Sending their wine out in Kegs means major savings for the winery. Think about all the money going into bottling, labeling, and so on.

According to one CEO, a winery has the potential of saving upwards of fifty cents per bottle, which may seem like small potatoes but considering the amount of bottles shipping out daily, it adds up to a pretty large… potato field. (I may have lost that analogy half way through, but you get the point!)

Where Everyone Knows your Name, and your Chardonnay of Choice. What does this mean for our favorite restaurant or bar? Purchasing wine at cheaper prices enables them to turn around and sell it at cheaper prices.

Plus they don’t have to worry about turn around on their “By the Glass” bottles. With the keg, everything stays fresher longer. Less waste, more profit.

There is a “Me” in Team. How does this impact the customer? Lower costs for the winery mean lower costs for the restaurant which means lower costs for the consumer. It’s a chain of savings. Plus, the suppliers of wine in kegs guarantee fresh wine with every pour. So we have a better product at a cheaper cost with less of a carbon footprint. Sounds amazing right? 

The Con of the Cask. Putting aside the loss of tradition, there’s also some questions raised about cleanliness.

Several protestors to the wine on tap trends are concerned about sanitation. With so many bottles fitting inside, how often is it getting cleaned? Once cleaned, are those chemicals seeping into my wines? Are these legitimate concerns? Probably. Will it slow down the trend? Probably not.