Tapping into the trend

It’s been called the hottest, fastest growing trend in the wine industry, and now big name producers are queuing up to get on board while hip bars and high profile restaurants in the Capital are serving wine on tap. But this isn’t just a fad, draft wine could change the way we drink wine forever…

Before we start, let’s be clear. This isn’t a new trend.  Although wine on tap has old-world origins, and was first pioneered in Italy, this is a trend exported from the United States where New World Wine producers are more experimental and quick to take up innovations. Riding the wave of the exponential growth of the craft beer industry, the rise in punk wine producers, and the appeal of draft wine to a millennial market, in America the been steadily growing for a decade. According to research by trends forecaster Mintel, the number of outlets selling wine from the tap in the US spiked by over 70 per cent in 2015 and now represents 1% of total on-trade wine sales.

“Social media and better marketing communications have really shone the spotlight on the possibilities of wine on tap,” says Love Wine On Tap’s Francesco Scaramuzzino. “Although the UK is still a very traditional market, wine on tap is a growing niche. Travelling abroad, specifically to eat or drink, is very common, and people can facebook and Instagram their stories instantly, thus new trends are born in seconds. Young consumers are happy to experiment and are very “trends” aware. Millennials are more interested in environmentally friendly packaging. They also want better quality products that have an interesting story behind them.”

Quality brands

Wine on tap does not compromise on quality, and offers savings on price. In fact, wineries save up to 40% by filling their wine in kegs rather than bottles, and in this way they can sell better quality wines in a more cost effective format. And so big name producers are happy to come on board. “Famille Perrine will open many doors for us,” says Francesco. “They are behind one of the greatest wines in the Chateauneuf du Pape area, and provide credibility to the concept.” Another really well-known wine now served on tap is Chateau Miraval’s rose, famously owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.

Trendsetting bars and restaurants

But of course, it’s not just the quality of the producers on board with the trend, but the type ofvenues keen to be involved too. Wine expert Zeren Wilson handpicked the wines served on tap in London’s Martello Hall, while Rex & Mariano, the seafood restaurant in Soho, have made a feature out of the gleaming stainless steel taps, plumbed into a sheet of Carrara marble. The members’ bar of the Tate Modern also serves wine on tap, as does Morito, where the menu and wine list draw influences from Southern Spain, North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.“Personally, I love Follie’s. It’s a small chain of pizzerias in Folkestone,” says Francesco. “They started with one venue and now have four restaurants so, like wine on tap, it’s a brand that’s really growing.” And while, for now, it may just be a handful of high end trendsetting venues in and around the Capital serving wine on tap, this is something that will surely change as the trend takes hold. Those who get onboard now will be seen as pioneers.

Changing perceptions

Serving wine on draft means an end to oxidised glasses of wine from a bottle that’s been open too long, as it never gets exposed to light or air. This also means that tasting wine before customers buy can become an element of how bars and restaurants serve their customers. “This makes buying wine easier and less intimidating to customers,” says Francesco. “And means that people can try wines they would normally have to buy by the bottle. We believe this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for bars and restaurants and their customers, and could change how people drink wine forever.” It particularly appeals to millennials, who may not have found their palettes yet, and like with craft beer, want to try   before they buy. While young people may need no persuading, putting wines to the taste test will help others rethink their attitude to wine on tap. “This isn’t an excuse for outlets to serve cheaper, less quality wine to customers. In fact it’s the opposite: wine on tap gives retail outlets the opportunity to serve a wider range of better quality wines by the glass, without the risk of open bottles spoiling.”

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