Tag Archives: Wine on tap

Gotham Project Wines on Tap @ Michael Skurnik Tasting

Gotham Project Tap Wines

Gotham Project’s 2013 Wines on Tap

A few months back, I addressed the growing number of wines-on-tap in restaurants around New York City. The problem with the trend was that many of the wines stunk–particularly the ones sourced abroad–and they weren’t priced like tap wines! I thought the savings were to be passed down to consumers? At least that is one argument being made for the use of kegged wines, yet NYC restaurants still charge a ridiculous $9-$14 a glass for not very good wine.

In my opinion, the first goal of a wine-on-tap program should be a focus on high-quality, local wines in a sustainable package, as the Europeans have done for thousands of years. The trattorias of Chianti certainly aren’t serving up Côtes du Rhône alongside a plate of pappardelle al ragu di cinghiale. Not only was it natural due to isolation and travel cost considerations to develop a culture of eating and drinking locally, but they had great raw ingredients and made good wine, so why go elsewhere?

Nowadays, food and wine are shipped from every corner of the globe, overnight. The energy costs are high, but consumers are curious and demand both local and international options. Thus, if they are going to drink Austrian wines anyway, why shouldn’t they also be served-up in “green” packaging? Foremost in sourcing international wines for kegs is the Gotham Project. Although their first, flagship wine was a Riesling from the Finger Lakes, they quickly began adding overseas options to their line-up. Unfortunately, I found those wines awful–a Moschofilero from Greece and Garnacha from Spain, undrinkable and seriously overpriced. Perhaps maintaining their position as industry leader was more important than the wines themselves?

Yesterday I attended Michael Skurnik’s Grand Portfolio Tasting. The first booth I ran into was the Gotham Project, so I started there to see if they might change my mind about their wines. The first pour was a Grüner Veltliner from Weinviertel, Austria. The wine crackled and popped from bright acidity and a little CO2 spritz, showing green apple and flinty minerality. For the right price, I would certainly order this in a big carafe on a hot afternoon with a group of friends. The next two wines were NY State: Empire Builder White and 2012 Riesling.  The Empire Builder is a Chard/Riesling blend from the Finger Lakes, perfectly serviceable, although not as immediately satisfying as the Grüner. Their latest version of Riesling from 2012 is supposedly a lot sweeter, although the acidity kept the sugar in balance and thus I found it more appealing than past incarnations that lacked backbone.

Next up were the reds. First, we tasted a rosé called Schnieder & Bieler made from Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc. Not sure what was going on with that wine–the hue reminded me of a rusty screw. The wine offered barely discernible berry notes, although it was rather crisp. It wasn’t terrible, but lacked identity. We moved on to the El Rede Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina. The pleasantly fruity wine was overwhelmed by a bitter finish. So far, not a great start to the group. Unfortunately, before we got to try the Empire Builder Red, Sangiovese and Cab Sauv, the tap pooped out.

My conclusion, having tasted half the wines, is that the whites were promising. The grüner in particular. Hopefully Gotham Project found reds that can compete, and will also encourage restaurant partners to sell them at competitive prices. Otherwise, why would consumers buy an average wine on tap without the benefit of the savings, given there are plenty of great by-the-glass options in this city that come from bottles.  Either find better wines or sell them for less!

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Unscrewed – Wine on Tap


Not your parents’ keg party!

If you missed my Unscrewed article covering wine in kegs, here is your second chance…

The practice of serving wine from a keg or cask has long been a tradition in Europe, where what grows together, goes together. Imagine sitting down to a plate of Coq au Vin in a little village in Burgundy and being offered a glass of Chianti — l’impossible! Your glass would be filled with the local stuff, out of the cask in back.

But in New York, the notion of regional eating and drinking has only recently taken hold.

Fueled in part by the New York market’s embrace of the locavore lifestyle, as well as by young drinkers who aren’t prejudiced towards non-traditional bottling and varietals, the trend of local, tapped wine is catching on.

In 2010, the Gotham Project, a wine-keg company from the Finger Lakes, made inroads into the NYC restaurant scene by introducing a New York Riesling. With the success of the Gotham Project has come the next wave of regional winemakers selling their drink in keg. Paumanok, Channing Daughters, Raphael, Shinn and Red Hook winery, to name a few, are embracing this effort. Wineries and restaurateurs are realizing cask wine makes environmental and economic sense, and offers value to us.

Wine taps at Southfork Kitchen

Just think about the reduction in cost to the winery: no more corks, labels, foils, bottles, and packing materials that add a few bucks on to each bottle; and the same reduction in restaurant waste, having to no longer recycle or throw all that material out. The cost savings, sometimes as much as 25%, is then (hopefully!) passed on us.

Also, the flexibility of a keg program allows restaurants to sell wine in different sizes, guarantees freshness using inert gas, and most importantly, allows us to buy a glass for $8-$10, rather than for what seems like the going rate of $14 in Manhattan these days. Sounds like a win-win, right?

If you’re looking to get a taste of local wine on tap, you can visit The Breslin, The John Dory, Terroir, DBGB, Burger and Barrel, and City Winery, all in Manhattan. In Brooklyn, check out Arthur on Smith, Buttermilk Channel, or Seersucker. And the list keeps growing: Swine, a new spot in the West Village, emphasizes locally made and sourced goods, and is dedicated to all things porcine and vinous. Can’t think of two things I love more.

Now if only our antiquated alcohol laws would take another cue from Europe and let us fill our growlers with wine instead of beer. That would be tres magnifique!

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