For some, the idea of tap wine can seem intriguing. For others, it is appalling. Regardless, it is a countertop fixture that fits both budget and quality. And really, what is so wrong with wine on tap in your home, camper, favorite restaurant or river trip?
Over the past few years, there has been a growing realization about and trend toward wine on tap. Many restaurants have opened up their by-the-glass programs to pouring keg wine, saving both time and money for restaurateurs, bartenders and wine producers. For bartenders, the time they save from having to pull corks on countless bottles during a rush can mean the difference between being in the weeds and keeping customers and wait staff satisfied.
While only a few years ago this idea seemed outrageous, it is now common practice and sought after by the restaurant industry. Not only is tap wine great for glass pours at your favorite restaurant, it is also an excellent concept for large parties, weddings and special events.
For the home wine-on-tap system that doesn’t require special cooling systems or special wine taps: boxed wine. Yes, boxed wine. This idea still makes many quiver and recall the insipid plonk that once dominated the boxed portion of the industry. Those wines still exist and take up space at most retail outlets. However, today there are outstanding options for those who need quality alternatives in the 3-liter box format.
River rats were perhaps the first ones to embrace this new era of quality wine in a box, conforming to “no glass on the river” rules while also satisfying the thirst for quality wine while descending the rapids of, say, the Grand Canyon.
For those whose budget is in the under-$15-per-bottle range and also enjoy a glass a few nights a week, a box of wine can serve your financial needs in addition to eliminating the spoiled bottle of wine that has been open for a week or longer.
There are several $10-$15 bottles of wine that are now being offered in a 3 liter box that typically sells for $20. A single bottle of wine comes in a 750 ml format, which means that a box of wine is equivalent to four bottles of wine for half as much money. Furthermore, the box contains a bladder, and as you pour your glass of wine, the bladder shrinks around the remaining wine, effectively preventing oxidation or spoilage. For reds, a box will hold for several weeks to a month. Whites and rosés will last even longer due to being refrigerated.
With each passing vintage, more producers are realizing the value of putting wine in a box. There is considerably less spoilage due to faulty corks and breakage from glass. As a result, we are seeing countless new offerings from wines around the world in red, white and rosé.
The future of wine in a box is appealing. The idea of putting premium wine in a box is being discussed. Before you know it, your favorite wine from Napa may become a boxed reality.
Alan Cuenca is an accredited oenophile and owner of Put a Cork in It, a Durango wine store. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.