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Shipping wines in kegs instead of bottles



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Some U.S. wine producers are taking a tip from their European cousins and are shipping restaurants and bars wine in kegs, instead of bottles. For consumers it should mean better wines at cheaper prices. Winemakers in the Napa Valley in California now use  19-liter, stainless steel kegs to serve wines at tasting rooms and to ship them to restaurants.

To push the wine from the keg, both producers use a blend of nitrogen with “just a scoosh” of carbon dioxide, the so-called Guinness blend. “All CO2 would make it get too fizzy. This way the wine is kept at an equilibrium,” said one winemaker, adding that the kegs are reusable.

Jean-Charles Boisset, whose family owns vineyards in both France and California, is using a traditional container, French oak wine barrels, to ship wine directly to consumers as well as restaurants from both his DeLoach and Raymond Vineyards.

The barrels contain a plastic bladder, much like box wines, that can hold up to 10-liters or nearly 70 glasses of either Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon.

Whether keg or barrel, the larger formats eliminate the risk of a corked bottle, protect against oxidation and reduce both packaging and the carbon footprint, according to the wine producers.

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