Wine on tap has finally landed in Toronto and I for one am thrilled. No, it’s not cheap and ‘yucky’ wine. It’s good wine from various wineries offered in different varietals. So who are the geniuses that have brought this booming trend to Toronto? The Versay Group, a new company launched in Quebec just under two years ago that plans to invade the Ontario market.
Last week, they hosted a tasting at Rock Lobster, where their wine has been available for months. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, however I have indulged in this wine on tap at my favourite new lobster joint many times, so I know it’s good.
I decided to have a chat with the Versay Group’s CEO, Jean-Francois Bieler, who explained the technology that goes behind these ecological kegs of wine. It surprised and delighted me that wine is actually better conserved in these kegs than it is in a corked bottle. As a result, Versay has the ability to take world-class wines and put them on tap so we can enjoy outstanding wines that remain fresh all the time. The only wines they cannot conserve using this technology are bigger wines that need aging. Any other wine, light or heavy, can be conserved in the Versay keg system.
This type of technology has proven trendy and popular in British Columbia, New York, California and Italy, however “wine on tap” has also made several scratch their heads with wonder. How can wine be good in a keg? Won’t the wine go bad? How “faux pas” to drink wine from a keg! All this is perception and ego, and as Bieler explained to me, this is what is making it difficult for Montreal restaurants to join the growing trend.
Toronto is proving to be different as we have a more laid back approach to wine, similar to Versay’s philosophy, as Bieler explains, “We want a relaxed approach to wine that is about accessibility to quality. Pricing by the keg allows for high quality wine to be bought in ‘bulk’, which cuts down the cost for restaurant owners and consumers.”
How smart is that? Coming from a restaurant background, this is a fantastic way to save money and ensure you are always serving a fresh glass of wine. The Versay wine on tap technology ensures wine stays good for up to three months once the keg is opened, and can be conserved for years in a sealed keg – often better preserved than a corked bottle. Reduced waste and price is another advantage with this system. The growing amount of restaurants serving overpriced wine by the glass hurts the wallet and keeps customers away. Seems to me this is a no-brainer for them to offer good wine at a decent price and keep customers happy. Not to mention, Versay is a completely ecologically friendly technology, so add being green to the list of its advantages.
Currently, Versay wine on tap is available at Rock Lobster ($1/oz), One Restaurant, Fabbrica, The Miller Tavern on Bay Street, and the list is growing. There are currently 12 wines offered, from a local Vineland Estates Riesling to a dry rose from France to a Cab/Syrah from Washington. Versay’s goal is to increase the wines offered to 40 by the end of the year. I am sure I am not the only one to say that I hope to see more restaurants offer wine on tap, as faux pas as it may sound.