Wine On Tap


I had heard about Rock Lobster and their pop-up restaurants at Toronto Underground Market (TUM), but I didn’t get to experience them until we tried a lobster roll at the Gourmet Food and Wine Show in November – it was great. So when we heard that they were opening a permanent location and that they were one of the first restaurants in Toronto to offer wine on tap – and that the wine was from Vineland Estates – we had to check it out. I’m definitely glad we did

Wine on tap is an interesting concept – it allows the customer to order in the quantities they’re comfortable with (at Rock Lobster you can order by the ounce) and the restaurant isn’t left with any half empty bottles that can spoil. It seems like a win-win for everyone – including the environment. I think it’s an especially smart idea for restaurants that don’t offer a lot of wine selections or who want to make wine an affordable option.

"Vineland Estates is thrilled to be able to offer our premium VQA wines on tap,” said Brian Schmidt, winemaker at Vineland Estates when I asked him about this new initiative. “We believe that offering wines in a stainless steel keg to be poured by the glass is not only good for the environment (no glass bottles), but it also gives restauranteurs peace of mind that half opened bottles of wine in a fridge or left on a counter will not oxidize and spoil.”

Vineland is definitely on the cutting edge with this idea and Brian has been a great spokesperson for why this could be a way to get more Ontario wines into restaurants. “Wine on tap will encourage wine lovers to enjoy amazing VQA wines without committing to purchasing an entire bottle during their dining experience. Wine on tap, its time has come,” he says.

For me, I started with the Vineland Estates Riesling and found it was a nice intro to the meal – it’s a very versatile white, so it pairs well with many of the options on the Rock Lobster menu. The Cab Franc, however, was absolutely fantastic. I had this one with dessert and it was a stunner. When you have only two wine choices on the menu, it’s rare for them to both be of this quality – if wine on tap allows more restaurants to have great wine at a reasonable price, I’m all in favour.

And if you’re in the Toronto area, I highly recommend checking out Rock Lobster. We had the lobster mac and cheese, which is a super tasty comfort food classic and the lobster roll, which is amazing. Shawn ordered the roll and I have to admit I would have happily finished it for him.

The whale tail, which we had for dessert, was one of my favourite desserts ever – it’s sort of like a gourmet beaver tail without the greasy gross feeling that I always get from a beaver tail. Maybe it’s the crème anglaise they use or the Canadian maple sugar – whatever it is, I want it again.

While I was all about the wine Shawn had to try the Caesar, which comes with a half lobster tail. He said it was one of the better ones he’s ever had. I tried a few sips and would have to concur – great presentation for a really good drink.

We’ll definitely be back at Rock Lobster (110 Ossington Street) – especially if they keep serving great Ontario wine on tap.

Toronto Life has a really good review of Rock Lobster (with much better photos) that you can check out here.

A great shot of the wine kegs from Brian Schmidt at Vineland Estates:


More wine keg shots provided by Vineland Estates: