Liquor on Tap

Sestra has expanded our TapWise Smart Dispensing solution to pour straight from liquor bottles. Liquor on tap brings the benefits of programmed pour control, actionable data insights, operational efficiency, and improved design to even more areas of your beverage program. Our cloud-based IoT controls, integrated management features, and data-backed insights relay everything from churn rate to predictive volume needs, making compliance, inventory, and service run more smoothly. While portion control ensures consistency in every drink your guests receive, one-touch and touchless dispensing increase speed of service, allowing your guests to spend less time in line and more time enjoying your venue

Liquor on Tap Offers More Control

Pour Control 

Our patented TapWise technology dispenses the perfect pour every time. Consistent pouring eliminates loss from overpouring and increases yield.


Eliminate setup and teardown processes with liquor on tap by implementing lockable taps and automated schedules. Venue managers can lock taps from anywhere, anytime with Remote Station Manager or by setting up an automated schedule. Locked taps eliminate any unauthorized pours, increasing peace of mind.

Easy Maintenance 

Bottles are easy to attach and there is no mess or spillage with clean dispensing technology. Plus, the system can be cleaned in place with no disassembling.

Receive Actionable Analytics

Operational Ease 

Inventory and compliance run more smoothly with real-time data analytics and integrations for Point of Sale, inventory management systems, and more. 

Integrated Inventory 

Multi-data stream analysis integrates dispensing information directly with your Point of Sale and inventory systems for seamless reporting. Your venue can even set up automated ordering.

Monitoring and Alerts 

TapWise keeps track of temperature, volumes, shelf-life, bottle use rates, and more to keep you on top of service without all the manual counts.

Improve The Guest Experience

The benefits of Sestra’s Smart Dispensing platform and TapWise for bottles extend beyond tracking every pour. 

Quality Service 

Automated dispensing increases speed of service and guest engagement. In addition, pour control ensures every drink is exactly the same.

Increased Speed of Service 

One touch Push to Pour and touchless MultiSense dispensing allow servers to pour multiple beverages in quick succession without wasting time measuring, giving them more time to create memorable experiences for guests.

Better Beverage Quality 

Programmed portion control and alerts on everything from temperature to time since opening ensure every sip is perfect for your guests.

Our customers, from large performing arts centers to intimate restaurants, recognize the level of service that TapWise provides for their guests.

“Our bartenders are easily able to just press the button, pour the exact amount, then move on to the next guest and focus on offering hospitality as opposed to worrying about exactly how much of that beverage should be poured into the glass.” – Jonathan, our partner at Nationals Stadium

Liquor on Tap Offers Flexible Design

With a small footprint and various configurations for on-counter and under-counter options, TapWise for Bottles meets the needs of any venue, large or small. Your venue can also choose from visible or invisible bottle placement as well as one-touch Push to Pour or touchless MultiSense that serve from any sized liquor bottle. 

Dispensing as a Service (DaaS)

At Sestra, we don’t believe in deliver-and-dash. Our unique solution and Dispensing as a Service model keep our goals directly aligned with yours, offering ongoing value through futureproofed solutions and support.

Futureproof Solutions

We offer the best of our technology and software as soon as it’s available for as long as you’re a customer.

Industry Experts 

Our team members are your consultants, there to build the best solution with you.

Monitored Support 

Our platform provides our team with real-time visibility. This data allows us to predict and resolve potential issues before they can negatively impact your venue.

Ongoing Customer Success 

Continued education and consultative Customer Success ensure you get the most out of our solution from day 1 to day 101 and beyond. We work with customers to improve their beverage program month over month, season over season, and year over year. The expansion and growth within existing customer venues if proof that our approach works.

“When we tell Sestra something can’t be done, that’s the point they’re going to rise to the challenge and make it happen. I really appreciate that flexibility and creativity. I’m really proud of the relationship we’ve forged with Sestra.” – Maggie at Warner Theatre

Ready to make your beverage service work harder so you don’t have to? Contact us today to learn more about liquor on tap and one of our service specialists will walk you through how TapWise can futureproof your beverage program.

Why Venues Are Embracing Connected Solutions

This article about why venues are embracing connected solutions, written by Sestra staff, originally appeared on Restaurant Development + Design’s website on January 11, 2021.

We live in an increasingly connected world. From Internet of Things (IoT) devices in our homes to connected Point of Sale platforms in retail, smart technology is helping people become more efficient and empowering businesses to stand out. Restaurants and other venues are embracing connected solutions through greater visibility and control that improves the bottom line.

Why Connected Solutions are Taking Hold

Streamline Operations

Multiple food and beverage technology systems that collect data are emerging, but bringing individual service elements online is just the beginning. The right system needs to combine information that would otherwise be siloed – such as Point of Sale, inventory, and dispensing data – and analyze it to create a full picture of operations. 

Sestra’s Smart Dispensing™ platform creates a centralized hub and uses the combined streams of data to analyze and automate controls over dispensing, access, ordering, and more. Features such as real-time monitoring and automated text alerts eliminate the need to manually check product volumes or system status. With Sestra installed, scarce labor resources can be reallocated away from inventory and audits and over to creating a better guest experience.

Increase Revenue and Profits 

Food and beverage programs often suffer from loss, both on the inventory and sales side. Technological advancements have begun to change that. Replacing manual practices, such as measuring servings, marking cups, or counting bottles and kegs by hand with IoT-connected devices eliminates multiple forms of loss – from theft to over-pouring. 

Sestra’s TapWise™ solution for beverage dispensing uses our patented Pour Control System to electronically control every aspect of dispensing. Sophisticated technology throughout the line protects product quality and service conditions. In addition, hands-free dispensing increases speed of service and real-time alerts prevent costly service interruptions. A wealth of data insights are available to inform business decisions, such as just-in-time ordering or menu changes based on what’s truly selling. Venues can increase their yield, selling more while purchasing less inventory. 

Enhance the Guest Experience

The average consumer today is more interested in experiences than products. While a connected solution like Sestra’s Smart Dispensing™ platform streamlines operations and increases yield, it also creates consistently better service for guests. By dispensing virtually hands-free, Sestra frees up servers to concentrate on their guests instead of their taps. They can look up, engage, and create a special flourish that customers are sure to remember. Faster service also helps venues to better manage queues which, in a post-COVID world, makes guests feel more comfortable.

Top venues are embracing the idea that systems they use on-premise are an integral part of the brand-presence they’re building. Installing Sestra’s Smart Dispensing™ solution allows them to link food and beverage dispensing directly to tailored apps, loyalty programs, promotions, and more, creating a unified guest experience. 

How to Bring Technology Into Food & Beverage Dispensing

Sestra Tapwise

“We are a software-driven company focused on solving problems in food and beverage dispensing that traditional hardware companies can’t address,” explained Sestra’s CEO, Lev Volftsun. “The future is connected and the features in our platform give our customers more intelligence and control than ever seen before in the industry.”

Any Product, Any Container, Any Dispenser

Sestra’s solution is the most versatile in the industry, addressing the needs of an entire venue and through a single, multi-product dispensing platform. Our technology can be integrated with any dispenser and pour any product; from wine in kegs and liquor in handles, to coffee in boxes and condiments in bags. The more of a service that is connected, the more data and control benefits multiply. 

New Opportunities for Service

Foodservice is seeing a shift to self-serve with standalone kiosks, in-app ordering, and Bring Your Own Device services. Sestra’s connected solutions make it easy to create additional points of service or set up seasonal service without undergoing costly renovations, committing to permanent installations or requiring additional labor costs. 

Dispensing as a Service

“Quality food and beverage service starts long before the product is dispensed and doesn’t end at the sale,” according to Anju Olson, VP of Channels and Partnerships. “Our platform and service model are built to address dispensing as part of an end-to-end solution. Our customers understand the value of a global, futureproof solution like ours.” Sestra’s solutions are supported by our Dispensing as a Service model and our team of industry experts offer program evaluations, design consultations, training certifications, and ROI evaluations.

How to Optimize Your Venue for Reduced Capacity

The hospitality industry knows how to pivot. From utilizing Bring Your Own Device technology to offering comfortable, outdoor dining year-round, restaurants, cultural centers, and event venues are continually evolving to keep their doors open and their customers happy. An annual pivot that food and beverage businesses have perfected is in response to seasonality. Venues are able to plan for and combat the effects that they can predict are coming. The Coronavirus pandemic, however, has ushered unpredictable and unrelenting challenges that we, at Sestra, want to help businesses combat. Our tips and technology to optimize your venue for reduced capacity will not only prove valuable in the Corona-age, they’ll help bolster customer retention, growth, and sales as “normalcy” returns. So, how can you serve customers at the highest level without overspending on staff?

Increase Points of Service

If you have a large venue and people have to be seated spaced away from other guests or it’s simply not your busiest night, make it as easy as possible for your guests to order food and beverages wherever they are. Self-serve kiosks and mobile bars allow you to stagger serving stations throughout your venue rather than requiring people to congregate in a single line. Self-serve stations keep your patrons distanced and staff from being overworked.

Reduce Friction

Mobile bar benefits are three-fold; not only do they keep your guests safely distanced and staff from burn out, they reduce wait times and congestion. Want to reduce friction and optimize your venue for reduced capacity without adding additional stations? Display signs with QR codes that let customers view your menu and order from their mobile devices wherever they are, whether that’s sitting at a table, wandering through the gardens, or checking out the latest exhibits. This process also allows staff to view customer location and deliver food directly to them so food and and beverage service becomes part of the experience, not ancillary to it.

QR codes can also be used as receipts, allowing customers to order digitally, then pick up their food and drinks by scanning their proof of purchase. Sestra’s touchless dispensers make use of this technology, offering safe and speedy sales and dispensing of beer, wine, cocktails, coffee, condiments, and more.

Make Every Occasion a Special Occasion

Give your guests a reason to leave home and celebrate by hosting special events and offering limited releases. The pop-up bar trend isn’t going anywhere and gives guests a reason to come back to see what’s new. From Christmas themes to tiki bars and everything in between, updated decorations and drink specials give guests an Instagrammable, limited time experience they won’t want to miss. 

Updating themes and specials consistently gives guests something new to look forward to. Whether you offer a new drink special each Friday, change your theme seasonally, or decorate annually for Christmas, make it as seamless as possible to become a part of your guests’ traditions. Then, make these traditions social media friendly with suggested hashtags and photo opportunities like backdrops.

Limited releases and specials are also the perfect opportunity to upsell. Fewer people spending more money is the goal when optimizing your venue for reduced capacity. 

Give it a Feeling of Exclusivity

In addition to limited releases and experiences, incite FOMO (fear of missing out) by circulating an air of exclusivity. Yes, venue maximums are imposed by law, but make it feel like it’s a limited offer that people want with intimate experiences catered to a few people. Use social media to remind your community how many tables you have free each day and encourage them not to miss out. When you do sell out, make sure to mention that too – this serves to increase the sense of urgency. Let your audience know when your offerings will be changing and to “grab a table tonight before we’re at capacity and you miss out on our current specials.” 

Offer Gamification 

Offer guests entertainment in addition to food, drinks, and ambiance, with drink-related games and activities. Trivia nights are a fun way to get guests involved from their tables and spending at the bar. Weekly or monthly trivia is a theme in and of itself that brings customers in the door and coming back for more fun. Drink check-lists and Bingo cards are fun ways to encourage guests to try all of (or a selection) of your drinks. 

Self-serve stations connected to guests’ identification are a great opportunity for gamification through pouring. Individuals can track how much they have poured and work their way to higher statuses offered by your establishment. For example, once a guest has poured 25, 50, or 100 beers, it awards them Bronze, Silver, or Gold status which can come with perks of your choosing like swag, a discount, or a free beer.

Whether you implement one or all of these suggestions to optimize your venue for reduced capacity, Sestra’s TapWise technology can help. Learn more about self-serve stations and guest payment options HERE and contact us to discuss the best solutions for your venue.

Bring Your Own Device in the F&B Industry

What is Bring Your Own Device

Sometimes, there is such a wide variety of technology being introduced across markets that it’s hard to get ahead of big trends. Other times, a technology emerges that ties others together, expanding their uses and increasing efficiency. One of those trends is Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, and it’s taking the world by storm.

When BYOD first came into fruition, it referred to employees bringing their own computers, laptops, or phones to work. It didn’t feel like something that would revolutionize food and beverage programs. For the user, perception is that their own devices are more up to date and they are able to use them more efficiently because they are accustomed to them. For the company owner, having employees or guests bring their own technology reduces hardware costs. It also keeps businesses out of the technology rat race of trying to have the latest apps, software, interfaces, and devices. Higher user efficiency with less cost to the business explains why Forbes thinks the BYOD market is on course to hit almost $367 billion by 2022, up from just $30 billion in 2014. 

Bring Your Own Device in the Food and Beverage Industry 

The Coronavirus pandemic has made businesses and consumers more conscious of germs and the ways they can spread. According to WebMD, the two germiest things in a restaurant are menus and touch screens, so why bother with either of them in today’s tech savvy world? Simple implementations like QR codes, online ordering applications, and mobile menus keep everyone safer and at a lower cost to the business. 

Particularly in the food and beverage industry, BYOD offers some key benefits for guests and operators alike:

  • Safety- Allowing guests to primarily interact with their own personal devices cuts down the number of high-touch surfaces that could potentially lead to cross-contamination. This doesn’t just protect the guests but also staff working in the venue.
  • Convenience- With the number of smart devices floating around, chances are that guests have easy access to their own mobile device at any given time. Tapping into that available direct line is a great way to eliminate points of friction in regards to service, such as long lines.
  • Experience- Consumers have begun evaluating more than just products – they want a more all-encompassing experience that makes them feel like they can develop a relationship and loyalty with a brand or company. Integrating BYOD helps bring online and on-site activities together, painting a more cohesive picture, and making the investment in loyalty programs even more seamless.

While companies may be concerned about security risks related to employees accessing corporate data from personal devices, the food and beverage industry presents minimal risk. The majority of information being shared, such as beverage specials and reservation availability, is non-sensitive and even monetary transactions through touchless payments are a non-issue. In fact, Forbes notes that “app-to-pay methods were more secure than credit cards because they mask users’ personal data through a process called tokenization,” so your guests’ most important information is even more secure than before. 

How Our Partners Have Integrated Bring Your Own Device Technology 

Use Case- Email Implementation

A hotel partner of Sestra uses Email Implementation to encourage BYOD use at their lobby bar carts. Once a guest checks in, they are sent an email informing them of the hotel’s complimentary beverage service. The email outlines the hours (Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm) and features a link to their drink pass. Once the guest scans their drink pass at the tap, the tap unlocks, allowing them to pour their complimentary beverage. After the guest has enjoyed their two complimentary beverages, they can continue using their drink pass by purchasing additional beverage credits. 

Similarly, a different hotel partner allows guests to purchase drinks upon check-in. The guest is then sent an email with their drink pass that they can use to unlock the lobby bar and pour their own beverages.

Use Case- App Integration

A co-working space that features Sestra’s TapWise technology integrated BYOD features into their existing app. Patrons are able to purchase beverages through the app, scan a QR code at the station to identify themselves and unlock taps. 

This technology and process is also used at fast casual restaurants as well as ballparks. Guests are able to order through the app, approach the pour station, and scan their code, which unlocks to allow pouring. Conversely, for walk-up service, guests can scan a code on the station, which takes them to a menu where they can order. Once their order is placed and payment is made, the station unlocks and they can touchlessly pour their purchased drink.

So, how can your establishment implement this ever growing trend?

Bring Your Own Device at Your Business 

Whether you’re looking to revamp your entire serving system or simply update your existing hardware and technology to integrate with BYOD trends, Sestra can help. 

Create Your Own QR Codes

While these codes may look complicated, free code generators are available to help you hop on the BYOD trend. One of our favorites is, where we created this QR code that you can show your friends so that they can scan and read this article.

QR Code for Bring Your Own Device Blogpost

Make Reservations

Is your bar, restaurant, or brewery accepting reservations? Not only can you advertise this across your website, social media, and newsletters, you can promote and encourage reservations on site. One way to do this is by posting flyers throughout your parking lot and on your front door. Include a QR code that guests can scan to check availability and reserve their time slot.

View Menu

Forgo printed menus in exchange for QR codes placed at each table. Guests can then scan the QR codes and view your offerings from their own devices. Posted QR codes mean one less thing for servers to clean and deliver to tables and one less surface to carry germs. In addition, menu changes can be updated on your website without having to reprint physical menus, saving your business time and money while also being eco-friendly. Who doesn’t love being green?

Scan For Pick-Up

Is your business offering pick-up? Encourage guests to place their orders and pay from home. This makes the pick-up experience more seamless by simply requiring patrons to show their order confirmation on their device at pick-up. This process saves the time of the staff and guests alike and enabling safe distancing.

Unlock Your Taps

Interested in using Sestra’s TapWise technology to serve your guests like one of the use cases mentioned about? We can integrate with your current technology while also making use of your guests’ devices. Contact us here for more information. 

How Overpouring Drains Profits and 4 Ways to Plug the Leaks in Your Venue

Overpouring is often unintentional

The most common cases of overpouring are unintentional, caused by a lack of solid measuring practices or tools. Eye-balling a glass of wine or counting out shots for a cocktail are just two examples. Even when performed by highly skilled, honest servers, freepouring alcohol is questionable. Serving sizes are extremely difficult to judge without measuring – the difference between a 5 oz. glass of wine and a 6 oz. glass is almost imperceptible to the human eye.

Overpouring can also be intentional

Intentional overpouring shows up in different forms. Filling a draft beer all the way to the top and pouring off the foam is overpouring. Adding in an extra shot to elicit a larger tip is also overpouring. Topping off a glass of wine to kick the bottle sooner? Overpouring.

All of these actions might seem harmless on a case by case basis, especially to servers who don’t have to get up close and personal with the books. But over time, they will gouge revenue.


Now that we’ve covered the two forms of overpouring – intentional and unintentional – let’s look more closely at the different beverages in your arsenal: wine, liquor, and beer. Making a few assumptions on costs and volume, we can project losses across all three:

A single ounce of overpour on a glass of wine loses you 20% of revenue

We’ll start with wine, which is typically served from 25.4 oz. bottles. Doing the math, that bottle can serve five 5 oz. glasses or four 6 oz. glasses – a 1 oz. difference that’s difficult to see without placing the glasses side by side. If you’re accidentally serving 6 oz. when you mean to serve 5 oz., you’re losing 20% of the potential revenue from each bottle.

Now let’s break it down in terms of potential revenue. If a bottle costs you $7, losing 20% only adds up to $1.40. But, if you’re selling glasses of wine for $9 a pop, losing an entire serving per bottle cuts deeper into your margins.

A single ounce of overpour doubles the amount of liquor in your cocktails

What about cocktails? The amount of liquor in each glass is typically so small that overpouring even a little will double the cost of that serving. The same imperceptible 1 oz. overpour we talked about with wine will now lose you 50% of the potential revenue from a bottle of liquor. Cocktails are unique because the liquor is often poured over ice and mixed with other ingredients, making it even more difficult to accurately freepour. You can’t see exactly how much liquor is going in.

The problem becomes more apparent when we break down the potential revenue. Liquor has a much higher profit margin than beer or wine. The cost of a bottle of vodka can range from $27 for 33.8 oz. on the lower end to $20 for 24.5 oz. for more premium options.

Focusing on the lower end (which is served more often), the cost comes out to $0.80 per ounce. We’ll also assume your guests are paying around $10 per mixed drink. Most cocktails have 1 oz. of liquor in them, which means you can serve 33 beverages per bottle. Overpouring 1 oz. per drink cuts that potential down to 16 servings, losing you $13.50 in cost and $160 in potential revenue per bottle.

 A couple ounces of overpour on a glass of beer loses you thousands of dollars per year

The harm of frequently overpouring wine or liquor is obvious – they come in smaller servings and cost much more. But beer takes up all of the real estate in its glass and the markup per ounce isn’t quite so extreme. Still, don’t write off beer overpouring.

Let’s say a typical half-barrel keg of domestic beer costs around $100 for 1,983 oz. The cost per ounce is around $0.05. According to Nightclub & Bar, a properly poured, 16 oz. beer should have about 2.25 oz. of foam – this allows the carbon to release and affects the taste of the beer. Filling that glass all the way to the top doesn’t just hurt the taste – it also means pouring about 2 oz. more than necessary, a $0.10 loss per glass. Even if you only serve 200 glasses of beer per night, you’re losing $7,300 per year.

Put another way, you’re losing 400 oz. per night – about 25 glasses. If you’re charging as little as $6 per beer, you’re still losing $150 per night. Considering the average bar can serve over 1,000 beers on a weekend night, those lost servings add up to a huge chunk of change.


We can all agree that overpouring – intentional or unintentional on wine, liquor, or beer – is bad for business. Here are a few ways to put your beverage program on track:

Take stock of your venue

It’s difficult to solve a problem without knowing how big it is. Start by evaluating your entire program. You want to have a complete picture, from what your pour costs should be to which products aren’t popular with guests.

Then, if you don’t know where to begin, start by tightening up inventory practices. Set up a regular schedule for inventory and make sure you’re counting the same way every time. Even something as small as always starting at the left and moving right as you count will help increase efficiency and accuracy. If you need more guidance, the Bevspot blog has a good in-depth guide. Once you’ve established your new and improved system, train your employees to assist and keep an eye out for specific issues.

Train employees properly

Make sure your entire staff is knowledgeable on pouring procedures. Discourage them from pouring multiple beers at a time, opening a tap before the glass is fully under it, or topping off cocktails with a little extra booze. Providing a resource that clearly lays out your venue’s “best practices” is a great way to make sure everyone’s on the same page.

If you still encounter problems, it’s better to show than to tell. Bartenders and servers don’t have the same insight into venue sales, revenue, and losses as you do. It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. If you hold a regular meeting to go over important figures, your staff can invest themselves more in the business. Really drive the point home by filling up buckets with water to show the amount of shrinkage per month. This will give everyone a clear idea of just how much poor practices cost.

Measure with the right tools

Jiggers, measured pouring spouts, and other precision tools are an excellent investment. While they may add some extra time to service, your bottom line will appreciate the patience. And, guests will be more satisfied with beverages that are properly measured – nobody wants a mouthful of liquor when they’re expecting a fruity refreshment. Another alternative is glassware marked with portion sizes. Something as simple as a line on your wine glass indicating exactly 5 oz. will keep servings in check.

Invest in systems that do the work for you

The beverage industry is finally catching up to the 21st century. Technology is available to take the guesswork (and human error) out of pouring. It may seem like a big investment but effortless precision will always pay for itself in the long run.

The added bonus of automated solutions is that they will increase speed and quality of service. When your servers can simply place a glass and press a button, they’re free to pour more glasses at once without overpouring. Hands-free dispensing lets them take their eyes off of the tap and do what bartenders do best – engage with guests.

If you invest in a system that tracks as it serves, you can also streamline your inventory process. Data from a connected beverage dispensing solution will compare directly to point of sale and give you a clear view of what you’re losing and why.


Tighter inventory, frequent training, better tools, and increased monitoring are four ways to take stock of your venue’s inner workings and prevent a bad situation before it happens. Letting your servers know the steps you’ve taken to cut down on shrinkage will stop unintentional overpouring and show how serious you are about stopping shrinkage – which will also encourage intentional leaks to plug themselves.


The Carbon Footprint of a Bottle of Wine


Know the Flow calculated the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine and found it’s around 1.28kg CO2. That’s about the same as driving 3 miles in a Honda Accord.

When talking about wine, the discussion typically revolves around region, vintage, or a particular vintner. Rarely does it touch on production of the bottles, the energy it took to power equipment at the winery, or mode of transportation. But, the journey your wine took is just as important as where it came from, even if it doesn’t affect the bouquet.

Let’s take a look at what really goes into (and comes out of) making a bottle of wine, cradle to grave.

The production of “raw materials” – grapes and packaging

A bottle’s impact starts at the very beginning: the winery. According to Know the Flow, the production of “raw materials” accounts for about 0.80kg CO2 out of the total 1.28kg. This also includes packaging production, but first let’s talk about the vineyard.

Grapes don’t require as much tender love and care as some other crops so fertilizers don’t make up a significant percentage of their impact. In their study of the winemaking process, The Academic Wino found that a winery’s impact mostly derives from the electricity necessary to run all of their equipment as well as the ethanol emitted during fermentation.

With that in mind, how can you minimize your program’s impact? Look for wineries throughout the world that are instituting more sustainable viticulture practices, using energy efficient equipment and avoiding environmentally harsh chemicals. For example, New Holland Agriculture’s ECOBraud is employing field mapping software to optimize fuel usage and turning off certain actions – like the shaker systems – when they’re not necessary.

The type of packaging used – bottles versus bulk

Sustainable Wine Growing estimates that almost half of the wine bottle’s carbon footprint comes from the production and mishandling of packaging – and 85% of that packaging is glass. According to The Academic Wino, “The wine itself only accounts for 40% of the overall volume of a case and often needs to be stored in climate-controlled areas to avoid spoilage.” There’s still a certain romanticism associated with the beauty and heft of a wine bottle. But, transporting cases comes at a price.

One of the best ways to reduce your program’s carbon footprint is by opting for lighter bottles or ditching the glass altogether. According to, a 20% reduction in a wine bottle’s weight would save 100g of CO2 emissions per bottle from packaging production and transportation. A 40% weight reduction would save 234g of CO2. This is why alternative packaging methods, such as boxes, kegs, or lighter bottles are catching on. Switching to an on-tap dispensing system that serves from kegs will reduce your program’s overall carbon footprint by up to 96% over 20 years.

How the juice is transported – method and container

Colman and Paster did a study of different transportation methods. They found air cargo is the worst and shipping by sea is the most efficient. That means that if you live on the east coast of the United States, California wine received via air transport will have a larger carbon footprint than French wine sent via cargo ship. Or, as The New York Times puts it, “A Napa Valley wine can emit 2.6 pounds of carbon dioxide on its journey […] to San Francisco. But the same bottle making the truck trip to Connecticut would emit 5.7 pounds of carbon dioxide in total. Ship it by air and its footprint would quadruple because it takes so much fuel to keep a plane aloft.”

Shipping wine in bulk packaging greatly reduces its emissions. Whether in tanks of juice that will be bottled later or kegs you can directly serve from, lighter packaging lets you ship more of the actual wine at a time. For the biggest reduction, source wine in bulk from your very own state.

What happens to the wine and packaging once it’s sold

Trash is the most obvious culprit of environmental harm. Altogether, a case of wine leaves behind about 18lbs of trash. Most people have beefed up their recycling practices but, on average, only 20% of glass is actually recovered. And that’s not counting the labels, corks, and shipping materials.

Triple Pundit estimates that “wines sold by the glass account for up to 80% of wine sold in restaurants, which equates to approximately 600 million bottles per year.” Replacing just a fraction of that with kegs or other bulk packaging would save millions of bottles from the landfill.

Stainless steel kegs eliminate waste because they can be cleaned and reused over and over. Some companies are making recyclable kegs out of recycled kegs in an attempt to close the waste loop. These plastic “bag in ball” kegs don’t need to be washed or returned, which cuts down on transportation emissions and chemicals from cleaning. Whether plastic or stainless steel, most kegs hold over 2 cases of wine each, saving 36lbs from the garbage heap.

Alternative packaging also eliminates waste from spoilage and breakage so no juice ends up down the drain.


When building your wine program, make sure you consider wine from all angles. Why not take a step toward reducing your carbon footprint by sourcing local wine or installing an on-tap dispensing system?

It can be easy to get caught up in tradition – a beautiful bottle with the right weight just oozes class. In an industry so rooted in tradition, it’ll be a long time before any broad changes take hold. But, as the market calls for more sustainable practices and grows hungry for novel experiences, bottles will loosen their grip.