Wine growlers at Whole Foods

Wine growlers at Whole Foods

Whole Foods

Walk into LUCK restaurant in Dallas and try order a bottle of wine, you'll be out of, well, luck. 

The restaurant and bar in the city's Trinity Groves foodie district only offers wine from the tap, which makes sense considering it's predominantly a craft beer hotspot with more than 40 different brews. In fact, every drink is served from the tap.

"The number one reason is waste," says co-owner Jeff Dietzman of the ease and flexibility draft beverages affords him. But for patrons who come for the food and don't like beer, draft wine also serves as a low maintenance backup offering.

The ways drinkers consume wine increasingly mirror the way they consume beer. Though the trends are not necessarily correlated, some entrepreneurs are leveraging beer's popularity to push wine in front of new consumers.

Restaurants, bars and retail stores now offer reds and whites via flight, growler and the aforementioned draft pour, many in hopes of making wine accessible to new palates. Here's where you can tap into the trend.

Red and white wine flights at Malai Kitchen

Red and white wine flights at Malai Kitchen

Tiney Ricciardi

Wine flights

In 2014, Malai Kitchen in Uptown made the leap into beer brewing with a small, one-barrel system that produces three house beers only available onsite. It was a modest step to put the Asian fusion restaurant on the craft beer map, but they encouraged patrons to try the beers by offering samples of all three at a discounted price, also known as a flight.

"Our beer flight was very, very, very well-received," says Joel Levin, general manager and brewer. "It's perfect for the adventurous."

Malai Kitchen (Dallas)

Recently, Levin and his partners, Yasmin and Braden Wages, applied the same thinking to wine. From Malai Kitchen's list of 40, the owners picked four reds and four whites to spotlight in separate flights. Each wine interacts differently with the restaurant's food menu, either enhancing or quelling the sweet and spicy food flavors, Levin says.

The flights are in part about the experience and experimentation, but they're also designed to highlight some of the more unique offerings on the wine list. Lucky for the customer, they're a good deal, too -- each totals two glasses of wine and costs $22.

Wine on tap

When Stan Elliott founded Tap Dance Wines five years ago, draft wine was a relatively new concept. 

Bent on trying something new, he and his wife relocated to Napa Valley, Calif. for nearly a year, where he interned with several wine companies. There he learned about wine on tap, as it's formally called, and the couple formed partnerships with a winemaker and grower to bring their product in kegs to businesses near their hometown of Austin. Fast forward half a decade, Tap Dance Wines supplies more than 100 bars and restaurants nationwide.

Dallas bar Happiest Hour offers eight varietals on draft.

Dallas bar Happiest Hour offers eight varietals on draft.

(Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Elliott runs a small operation -- Tap Dance offers just two wines, a red blend and chardonnay -- but he attributes the growth to the craft beer boom. 

"Craft beers are one of the hottest things right now," he says. "But not everyone wants to drink beer, so wine is a great alternative, especially when it can be integrated into the same dispensing system that the beer is on."

There are plenty of other reasons Elliott sees retailers jump on board, however. For example, kegs prevent oxidation and light infiltration, two of the beverage's biggest enemies. Serving from the tap also means a smaller environmental footprint and less wasted wine when considering how many popped bottles go unfinished. Plus, pulling a handle is quicker than opening a bottle of wine.

"For the consumer, it's the freshest way to get a glass of wine," Elliott says. (Many beer brewers contend the same.)

Wine growlers

Where there's wine on tap, there's sometimes a means to take it to-go. Craft beer culture popularized growlers, glass or ceramic jugs filled for off-premise consumption, but businesses have also adopted them as a way to take home wine. 

Whole Foods introduced draft wine and wine growlers in 2010 when the Dallas store on Park Lane opened with a bar onsite. The company now boasts 27 bars in the Southwest serving more than 40 wines on tap and 440 craft beers.

Karma Clark, specialty coordinator for the region, says the product furthers the company's sustainability mission and has become popular among customers. Whole Foods sell them in 375 milliliters (half bottle), 16 ounces and 750 milliliters (full bottle).

"The growlers are truly great for anyone looking to try something new without a full 750ml commitment," Clark said by email.

Similar to their beer counterparts, wine growlers keep the beverage fresh up to 10 days if unopened. But once the figurative cork has been popped, the wine needs to need consumed in two or three days, like a normal bottle of wine.

Have a favorite boozy trend? Share it with me on Twitter @tineywristwatch.

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