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Eat & Drink

5 restaurants that serve wine on tap in Toronto

Posted by Derek Flack / April 4, 2013

Wine on tap TorontoThe words "wine on tap" immediately conjure for me an image of Dionysian abandon, crowds of people greedily gulping away, clanking glasses, and spilling all over themselves before returning to the well — in other words, a snippet of paradise. Disappointingly, real life seldom matches my booze-inspired imagination. On the plus side, however, you actually can get wine on tap in Toronto these days. It's a relatively recent trend (thanks Gusto 101), but one that's picked up enough steam that it's worth rounding up which restaurants are getting in on the fun.

In addition to the fact that it's a novel way to serve/sell wine (at least for now), wine stored in pressurized kegs is protected from oxidization far better than it would be in an open bottle sitting on the bar for days. You can thank the nitrogen. It's also a hell of a lot cheaper than investing in an Enomatic if you're a restaurant owner. And, hey, no bottles ain't a bad thing for production costs or the environment. Everybody wins. Let's drink!

Here's where to get wine on Tap in Toronto.

Gusto 101
Gusto offers its house-blended wine for a buck an ounce. That's a clever marketing ploy but also a great deal when compared to by-the-glass pricing around the city. It also captures the spirit of what draught wine should be: cheap and easy drinking.

Rock Lobster Co.
You can also indulge in the buck an ounce deal at Rock Lobster (though they also serve a more refined option for $2 an ounce), whose wine comes courtesy of Vineland Estates. The Riesling and Cabernet Franc won't wine an awards, but that's really not the point now is it? Drink up.

One Restaurant
Mark McEwan's Yorkville restaurant has gotten in on the game, but predictably charges more for their draught offerings. In addition to the same two Vineland offerings available at Rock Lobster ($10 for a six ounce glass), they also serve a Verdelho and a Cabernet from Washington State ($12 and $14, respectively).

Queen Margherita Pizza (785 Annette St)
That link above will take you to the Leslieville location, but it's the newest Queen Margherita that's doing the draught wine thing, and you can expect the still-to-come Dundas West location to get in on it too. There are a few Norman Hardie offerings, but it's the prosecco that'll make you feel like you're in Italy.

Globe Bistro
Globe likes to keep things local, so why go too far when looking for a novel wine to sell? Dubbed by its owner "the only true sparkling wine on tap," Contraband is made at Featherstone Winery (great place), and has sights on expanding into other restaurants around the city and beyond.

Photo from Gusto 101's Facebook page



Billigerous / April 4, 2013 at 01:22 pm
Bulk wine should not be a trend that's promoted but banished. These establishments should be paying the patron a buck an ounce if they can keep it down. This trend will die quicky once the owners realize that people with more expendable income will run for hills. Huge turn off. Money grab. Prediction on next trend... Trough eating! It's just like Trendy Tappas just cheaper bulk piles of food stuffs for anyone to stick their face into! Yum!
lenoralee / April 4, 2013 at 02:11 pm
billigerous: I agree. Another point to the banishment of bulk wine is that these establishments will ruin virgin palates. The demand will then bring more wines akin to yellow tail in bulk to Ontario because people just plain don't know better. I'm sad that alcohol in general is so expensive, but wine especially. This bulk trend isn't helping lower the cost of lovely wines- it'll just help bring in more garbage wines.
Andrew C / April 4, 2013 at 04:30 pm
I like your missing the point and potential here. Remember the screw cap controversy?

Keg wine can be a greener and more efficient system as long as you have quality in mind. Hopefully this can be a way local wineries can step up. Norm Hardie doing premium wines is a step in the right direction.

I hear Oliver Bonacini is partnering with Rosehall Run which is exciting. This isn't yellow tail just a deliver method.

Just as long as there is quality in the 'juice' which isn't there for some of these.
Peanut Gallery / April 4, 2013 at 04:43 pm
Great idea!

In London UK, Borough Wines offers bottle refills from its keg (cost gbp5, about C$8). It's decent wine, not plonk.
mr. hood / April 4, 2013 at 09:12 pm
wine on tap is a fad, plain and simple.

yes, it's better because the wine will stay "fresher" longer, but as a restaurant, you have to buy 20 and 30 liter kegs of it!

plus, the unit that currently sells the wine on tap program the "vrysus" system or whatever its called only has a handful of wines in keg form at the moment. PLus when you buy into it, you can only purchase their wines.. so it leaves you with very little options for choice.. the wines they do offer are cheap and horrible, with no body to them.

To be honest, could you see yourself purchasing and Amarone on tap? Also the price per keg is around -350-600$ so if you are a 30-50 seat restaurant that has a program with 6 taps, you are sitting on a lot of product inventory which keeps your costs high from week to week..

i hope this fad dies,
Gabriel / April 4, 2013 at 09:20 pm
EWWW wine on tap? Why would I want to drink wine through a beer tap? No thanks!!!
evan / April 5, 2013 at 01:38 am
I don't see why not, I drink beer on tap don't I?
Moe / April 5, 2013 at 04:00 am
It's not a fad. We're catching up to it way too late. You could have your old country serving at home or other occasions. Stop being snooty kids.
swillbo / April 5, 2013 at 10:53 am
Draught wine is available all over Italy, isn't considered sacrilege there.
James Drummond / April 5, 2013 at 05:11 pm
the trend has some merit although the claims that it is for the consumer are a bit misleading ... the winery saves on packaging ... the operators charge at full bottle price while saving on the keg ... and they spin it that the consumer gets 'fresh' wine ... they should expect to get fresh wine or at least not oxidized through poor sales/volume control. There are new systems that are more affordable that benefit everyone.
Mike Macquisten / April 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm
We have been custom kegging wines in Vancouver for 40+ wineries and it has been an absolute hit for both restaurant operators and consumers. The wines range from $11/bottle to $35/bottle equivalent and many of BC's most awarded wineries are having success by-the-glass, which have not had the chance to be offered before due to the risk of spoilage and waste to the restaurant owner.
At the end of the day it's all about the quality of the wine. The delivery system from stainless steel kegs ensures wine gets to the consumers glass exactly the way the winemaker crafted it. If you don't like it, order something else or stick to the wine from bottles that could be sitting on the back bar spoiling by the minute. Or buy a full bottle and drink up
Sasha / April 9, 2013 at 09:33 pm
I am not going to be sleeping with anyone the drinks wine from a tap! The sensual bottle is much more romantic and erotic...
jack / July 15, 2013 at 08:47 pm
Typical Torontonians. Always the last to accept something new. But this isn't even new. I had wine straight from the tap of a barrel in a wine bar in Palermo 30 years ago. Wake up Toronto. You're way behind.
M / March 10, 2014 at 01:00 am
@Jack, so true! I remember the exact same thing 30 years back!
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