The Vine Through The Line


How the wine-on-tap revolution may just improve your profits.

Imagine this: You walk into a restaurant and order a wine by the glass–on tap!

Throw the traditional wine bottle format of yesteryear out the window! Dispel any preconceived notions you may have of normalcy, because a new wine-by-the-glass format is here, and it’s sweeping the nation. It’s better for the environment, customers love it, and it’s going to save your restaurant money.

“Some people sort of raise an eyebrow,” says Michael Taylor of Eno Wine Bar at the InterContinental Hotel in Chicago. “Unlike boxed wine or screw-cap, where the public already has a preconceived notion of what they are dealing with, they have never seen this before, so they don’t know how to react to it.”

According to Taylor, this mystery factor breeds questions, which gives him the opportunity to make a case for it. Three years ago, Eno Wine Bar started serving wine on tap from Silvertap Wines. It now offers a Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc blend, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel blends.

Silvertap Wines was founded by two winemakers and a restaurateur with the express goal of revolutionizing wine by the glass. Their wine on tap makes it easy to be green: they use reusable wine casks and skip the bottles, corks, cases, and labels. A wine cask holds the equivalent of 26 bottles but at a fraction of the weight, burning less fuel in shipping.

In addition to the two wines on tap, Eno serves about 50 bottles of wines by the glass and by the flight. With consistent results that disprove long-held perceptions, Taylor says that customers are constantly surprised when they discover their favorite wine comes from the keg.

It was that same desire to improve upon the customers’ quality of experience that led Adam Jed, partner and general manager of Bluestem Brasserie in San Francisco, to develop a wine-by-the-glass-on-tap program.

“It all started for me when I saw a lot of bartenders pouring off less than palatable wines–either to meet a beverage program cost percentage or because the wine had been open a couple of days,” says Jed. “And I thought to myself, there has to be a better way to do this!”

Jed started researching this program about five years ago with one goal–to better deliver wine as the winemaker intended it. After consulting with several industry professionals, including Jan Weidner, a refrigeration specialist, and Michael Ouellette, winemaker at Blockheadia Ringnosii in St. Helena, California, Jed developed a freestanding, double-stacked two-door refrigerator.

The dual-temperature unit serves 12 wines by the glass, six white wines at one temperature and six reds at another. It uses stainless steel tanks and an argon-nitrogen gas mixture to ensure perfectly preserved wines by preventing oxidation.


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