# of divers

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wineoceros Wednesday: Wine on tap: A sustainable alternative? A pile of pish?

Just a touch of mental masturbation for your wine thoughts today.

I first made note of artisan wine by the keg during a visit to The Bent Brick in May of last year. Being so finely poised on the dining map of Portland, I was left to wonder whether my beverage of choice was being bastardized into a souless wine, or whether it was indeed a viable option for our beloved sour grapes.

Although, not a new idea, I've kept a close eye on it since. To date, tapped wine has been spotted at five local destinations, with tapped house spirits being offered at a sixth.

Apparently, the flowing wine spigot is on round three, as it was initially introduced in the seventies, then twice again during the eighties. Due to a sorrowful lack of know how, beer lines were used and the resulting oxidation caused to wines to sour, making this endeavor a botched misadventure.

'Boxed wine' aside, one could argue that wine flowed freely, straight from the winemakers barrels in the days of the Roman Empire.

Today, its contents are pressurized using argon, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. This somewhat inert environment was created to protect our precious grape juice from its wrathful nemesis, oxygen.

Conceptually, this idea is brilliant for wines that are drinkable now, and not suitable for aging. On the nightmarish end of things, these lined metal kegs would surely become a beastly place where the dark and perplexingly complex Barolos and Barbarescos would go to die.

A really-real wine 'cask'?

Environmentally, the answer is obvious. According to the (FAO) Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the astonishing equivalent of 36 billion bottles of wine are produced worldwide each year.

The Good

  Eliminates waste, thereby reducing our carbon footprint 

 Savings could potentially be passed on to the consumer.

✓ A much longer shelf life. This "winery fresh" wine has been said to yield tapped keg freshness for up to sixty-five days!

 No senseless wine waste of unfinished bottles, (the calamity!), potentially leading to higher profit margins. 

The Bad

x  For fans of labels, a lack of familiarity may very well leave the end user feeling somewhat hopeless, wondering just how to go about purchasing some of what was just sampled, and knowing little of its stainless steel origins.

 Bulk keg production means few, truly unique, boutique wines would make the tapped circuit

 Limited to young vintages

The Ugly

Maybe I'm just a purist, or a devout traditionalist, but the romantic in me weeps at the very thought of abandoning our well-entrenched history of opening up a bottle of wine in the comfort of friends, family, and loved ones.



I suppose we'll have to just enjoy our wine as is, before they begin to serve it from wine hydrants.

At any rate, none of this is preventing me from going nutter butters trying to sort out if I'm a fan or not of this natural evolution. I'm still picking up the spritzy acidity and fruit forward flavors that have been well preserved in its keg vessel storage.

Winetender, could you kindly pour me another?
Perhaps that will get me to stop my sniveling.


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