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Packaging-free wine in keg

Packaging-Free Wine

For a lot of people, natural wine is about drinking truly authentic, delicious wine. For others, it’s about conscious consumption. I’d like to think we’ve finally managed to bring those two aspects together with natural wine in keg and on tap. 

Over the past few months we’ve put the infrastructure in place to bring our packaging free wines in-house, taking care of all the aspects needed to take the wine from the winery and put a perfect glass in perfect condition down at your table. 

We have worked together with Unkel and Millton so far, soon to be joined by Patrick Sullivan, Jauma, Gentle Folk and BK, all with the ultimate aim of being able to offer you a solid range from a wide variety of great producers. All organic or biodynamic, all low intervention, all packaging free.

The benefits to kegged wine are immense. For some wines and some venues I'd say it’s even more appropriate than traditional glass. Please read on for more....

Pros/Cons:

Pros:
Truly packaging free. This is the biggest driver for me. Every 20L keg takes 27 bottles, 27 or 54 or 81 labels, 27 corks, 27 capsules, and at least 3 cartons and 3 dividers out of circulation. That in itself is amazing.

Quality and condition of the wine. Every glass, from the top to the bottom of the keg is the same. The wine will remain in tact, unoxidised and exactly as it left the winery, and for a bloody long time. A keg is essentially a 20L stainless steel tank after all. Cork taint is impossible.

Consistency. Glass after glass, the wine is the same. As any operator knows, opening a bottle right before closing for the night is a pain; the next day's wine is never the same. No longer a problem. Every customer gets a consistent glass.

Be generous, but not frivolous. Offering a taste of the wine to the customer doesn't require opening a new bottle. Give em a splash, then sell a carafe.

Margins. Not to be crass or mercenary, but if you maintain integrity in your pricing and pour these wines at a fair price (not too low or too high), both you and the customer are getting a good deal. Not a single dollar is wasted on packaging.


Cons:
Sure, there'll be some people who can't bring themselves to drinking a wine from a tap or a carafe, but that's a generational thing. Anecdotally wine on tap has become our highest selling product by volume at Everyday Wine, and not a day goes by at Clay where we aren't pouring glass after glass of tap wine.

People may think tap wines are cheap, not worthy, or inferior even, but that's up to me as distributor and you as operator to prove them wrong. I am working hard to get more great producers to keg great wines, and on if you can serve the wines nicely, at the right temperatures, in good glassware, then there's no drop in standard to a great bottle of wine. If anything, customers should appreciate the consistency in the wine and the price they pay. A really nice decanter can look better than a bottle (I really like the old wine decanter from Jancis Robinson (via David Nash) or something made by hand like Monmouth or Tony Kuepfer).The below wines are part of our packaging-free natural wine in keg offering. Here we aim to offer a wide, ever-changing range of delicious natural wines in keg.

Setup:

The basic setup needed for any venue is 1) storage space, 2) taps, 3) a method of chilling the wine and 4) gas, to push the wine through the line and help preserve the wine.

Storage space:
The keg can be chilled or ambient depending on the system you use. Our 20L kegs take up 25x25cm on the floor and need 70cm from the ground up for the keg and the coupling to fit.
For the gas bottle, you'll need 20x20cm and 70cm too.

Taps:
Totally up to the venue, and just like any beer tap.

Chilling:
For white wine your option is to either chill the keg or the line, or both if you're feeling extra. For red wine if you store the keg at ambient and don't chill the line, your wine will come out at room temp, which may suit the style of wine you are pouring. Kegs can be stored in a fridge (or kegorator), or alternatively you can pass the ambient wine line through an ice bank or water bath to chill. A kegorator setup you can buy brand new for around $1000. Refridgerated kegs will give you the most control over the serving temperature. 

Gas:
Don't use CO2 or you will eventually fizz the wine. Use compressed nitrogen, which if you order from BOC is called a 152D and currently costs $3.59 for a bottle more than CO2 and is worth every penny.

All of these things don't need to be located in the same space. You can have a gas line run to your kegs which can run to your taps.

Tech specs:

D-Type keg coupling (standard NZ beer keg fitting)
Must use Nitrogen gas (Code 152D if ordering from BOC)

The Jumpin' Juice Sav Plonk is delivered in a Kegstar keg. When finished simply use the App to arrange collection.

All other wines are delivered in a Wine Diamonds keg. When finished contact Dan to arrange collection.

For any questions regarding install, fitting, suitability for your venue, etc, please contact Dan.