Wine-ing allowed at The Ruby Tap

Photo by GRACE CLARKA soft, rustic glow occupies this Wauwatosa establishment where patrons can sit back and relax.

A soft, rustic glow occupies this Wauwatosa establishment where patrons can sit back and relax with an assortment of thirty-two wines on taps available for tasting.


A rustic and cozy wine bar located in downtown Wauwatosa, The Ruby Tap welcomes adults adventurous at heart to embark on a unique wine tasting experience with its plethora of wine options. The Ruby Tap promises excitement to anyone who enters as bottled wine occupies a wall and four kegs shine near the entrance.

The row of bottled wine, ranging from sweet white to heavy red, stands behind a glass with a straw-like instrument garnered to each bottle. This allows patrons to try new wine and drink at a personal pace.

Adding to the exploration of new wine is the method of selling wine on tap. The unusual concept of wine on tap compares to the similar experience of beer on tap.

“The wine on tap was something that a bar in Chicago did,” said Sarah Smith, co-owner of The Ruby Tap. “I find that wine on tap has a fresher taste. The wine in the self-dispensing bottles last for about 45 days whereas the wine on tap lasts three months. Plus, serving wine on tap is economically better and environmentally friendly.”

Despite the taste and sustainable benefits, wine on tap does have its downsides.

“The downside with serving wine on tap is not all wine served on tap can be distributed with bottles, so you can’t buy a bottle if you really like a particular wine on tap,” Smith said. “Also, there are not many wines that can be served on tap.”

Owners and sisters Smith and Brooke Boomer shared the story’s origin of this unique gathering spot as well as the concept of serving wine in self-serving dispensers and on tap.

“Brooke and I always wanted to own a wine bar,” Smith said. “The timing [to start our wine business] was perfect. Brooke just had her baby and was ready for a change. I was living in Chicago and my lease was almost up, which brought the perfect time for me to move to Wisconsin.”

With almost no business experience, Smith and Boomer spent lots of time researching, talking to businessmen and traveling to different wineries to gain knowledge about wine and experience new tastes, which led them to the idea of selling wine through a self-service system.

“The self-served dispensers are something a similar bar in New Orleans did,” Smith said.

Photo by GRACE CLARKWine taps are environmentally friendly and keeps wine fresh longer.

The Ruby Tap offers a variety of wines that are served out of reusable kegs. The flavor and quality of bottled wine is preserved while the taps are environmentally friendly.

Upon strolling through the streets of downtown Wauwatosa, Smith and Boomer noticed a rent sign on the building that now houses The Ruby Tap, which opened August 3, 2012.

“I love the walkability in downtown Wauwatosa and Brooke lives very close, so we really liked having the wine bar located here,” Smith said.

Today, The Ruby Tap remains a popular spot for wine lovers as well as novice wine drinkers.

Not a fan of wine? No worries, Boomer’s husband, Jordan, stocks the refrigerator with beer from Wisconsin breweries.

For two sisters turning a dream into a reality, the genesis of The Ruby Tap provides inspiration to the dreamers, adventure for the explorers and wine for the “winos.”

Such a story is as inspiring as the bar’s name itself.

“The Ruby Tap is named after our grandmother, Ruby,” Smith said.

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