Wine on tap, how it works at Cafe Luc

A few months back, I visited Cafe Luc to try their wines on tap. I like the idea of wine on tap, especially if it’s house wine as let’s face it, if you’re ordering house wine, you’re not that fussed. That said, however, it shouldn’t be a glass of dreck that you can barely gag down with your steak frites or whatever it is you’ve ordered. I met with Charles Grisar, the owner and inventor of the wine tap that Cafe Luc uses in its Belgian and London restaurants.  Charles runs an wine importing business as well as supplying all the wines for the Cafe Luc chain. He sources all the wines personally to ensure that not only interesting but also quality wines get on his wine list. His company,  Les Vins Personalises says it all. Charles tastes every wine that goes on the list and in most cases has visited the vineyard at least once before putting it on his list. The same goes for the wines on tap. He believes it is possible to get quality wines on tap if there is enough volume. To that end, Cafe Luc and it’s sister restaurants in Belgium seem to be filling that requirement handily. Despite the varied reviews that Cafe Luc has been getting, they seem to be running through the wine fairly quickly. Charles has 3 criteria for his wine on tap: do you like it? would you order another glass and is the wine well balanced? If it can pass those three objectives then it goes in the box and onto the tap. Charles currently offers 18 different wines in the bag in box format. The wines have to be in bag-in-box so that they can be hooked up to the system that Charles devised to deliver the wine to the wine taps. The system was first devised for restaurants that had beer on tap. The idea being to convert them to wine on tap. He had to get rid of the...

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Cafe Luc, wine on tap

Wine on tap. Can I have one of those for my flat, please? While it might be unreasonable to have a 10 litre keg of wine in my flat, it’s a very good idea for restaurant house wines. Think of it, minimal wastage, stays fresh for at least a week and is very economical as the wine comes in a wine cask that can be easily and quickly refilled. The owner of Cafe Luc, Luc van Oostende is originally from Belgium and founded the original Cafe Luc in Ghent 13 years ago. His aim was to have a modern European brasserie, serving quality food and wine. So where does wine on tap come into the equation if it’s supposed to be “quality” wine? Well, I’ll tell  you. Cafe Luc have a long standing relationship with their very own supplier, Charles Grisar, who has managed to source some very good house wines that are technically speaking, “bag in box.”  Bag in box does have a rather harsh reputation but I see no problem with them if the wine itself is well made. We’re not talking premier cru but entry level French wines are in general quite drinkable. There have 7 wines on tap. 4 whites and 3 reds. Cafe Luc uses only one supplier and his wines are all French. The 4 whites are a Cote de Duras s. blanc,  a Macon, a Sancerre and a Chablis. Unfortunately, on our visit the coolers were not working properly and the wines were a bit warm but the Sancerre and Chablis still exhibited the typical characteristics you would expect from those wines. The Chablis was actually a bit cooler the rest and was quite good with my Crab Tian, crisp and minerally with a nice lemon finish. Of the three reds, the St. Estephe (£7.50/125 ml glass) was the best choice for my duck confit although the Chinon came in a close second. The other red, a Cotes de Thongue Syrah/Cab blend (£3.80 /125 ml) was not...

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