When it comes to taste, beer lovers know draught makes all the difference. Cool and crisp, a pint drawn from a stainless steel keg delivers far more flavor than bottled ale—indeed many drinkers make their choices based solely on what’s on tap. There’s also the guilt factor. What to do with all those empties in a city that lacks glass recycling?
But what about those of us who prefer wine?
After all, who hasn’t experienced the disappointment of a too-warm, too-flat $10 glass of wine? And while we would like to think that purchasing a bottle to share might eliminate the problem, or that the $60 dollar bottle of wine we just splurged on at our favorite spot has been judiciously stored in ideal conditions, the reality is we just don’t know.
In France, where wine is considered a staple rather than a luxury, draft or vin en vrac is an established business model. Vrac stores function a lot like growler shops in the U.S. with locals bringing their own containers and drawing from several vats, each with its own varietal and price point. In addition to delivering an affordable product and reducing waste, the vrac system offers a higher degree of control over traditional bottles. Unlike glass that allows in light or can easily shatter, vats are made from long lasting stainless steel and can be kept at consistent temperatures.
Fortunately, several bars in New Orleans are catching on, applying the French model to local watering holes with wine, and even bubbly, on tap.
What’s more, half pours mean curious palates can sample lesser known varietals without breaking the bank.
- Copper Vine
The idea for this CBD wine pub was born several years ago when owner Kyle Brechtel was living just one block away, and found himself longing for the kind of neighborhood spot he’d like to frequent. Indeed longtime locals may know the corner of Poydras and O’Keefe as the former digs of Maylie’s, a restaurant whose reign lasted some 90 years. While Brechtel’s two-story overhaul adds modern, natty touches that smack of bespoke menswear, the building’s exceptional historical features have been gorgeously preserved, including soaring ceilings, a wall of French doors, and a restoration of the original Victorian era bar behind which can be found 30 wine taps featuring vintages from Europe, South America, California, and just for kicks, Copper Vine’s house blend from New York. A full menu from Executive Chef Mike Brewer offers upscale pub grub as well as mains. On warm days, consider the outdoor patio; the contemporary space supplies just enough green and separation from Poydras Street without losing sight of the thoroughfare’s urban vibe.
1001 Poydras Street, (504) 208-9535
Located on the edge of the French Quarter and directly across from the recently completed streetcar line, this chic, airy Champagne-centered bar from self-taught bubbly aficionado Crystal Hinds captured Eater’s 2017 Bar of the Year Award. Though it dubs itself a neighborhood bar, Effervescence’s white banquettes and bubble-inspired chandeliers are pretty enough to carry any occasion. Aside from Prosecco on tap and half pours, Effervescence offers Champagne cocktails and still wine from the U.S. and Europe. The curated, beautifully executed Champagne-friendly menu from chefs Evan Ingram and Brenna Sanders is a welcome departure from typically fried fare and emphasizes fresh, local flavors. $5 happy hour specials, 4-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday.
1036 North Rampart Street, (504) 509-7644
- W.I.N.O. (Wine Institute of New Orleans)
W.I.N.O. was the first drinking spot in town to get on board with wine on tap. Located in a converted warehouse, this popular oenophile’s paradise has an industrial, cellar-like feel. While W.I.N.O. offers bottled wines by the glass and half glass, its main attraction are the whopping 120 wines on tap. One-, 2- and 4-ounce portion options mean that even the priciest wines are within reach. While W.I.N.O. doesn’t offer a regular food menu, cheese, paté and dip share plates mean you don’t have to drink on an empty stomach. Happy hour: 25 percent off all taps, 5-7 p.m. Monday-Wednesday and Thursday after 9 p.m. midnight.
610 Tchoupitoulas Street, (504) 324-8000