TAMPA - Bartender Deanna Moses spends a lot of her shift wrestling corks out of bottles. Her employer, 717 South Restaurant in South Tampa offers as many as 40 different wines by the glass.
"There's a little bit of prestige that comes with certain glasses of wine," said Moses.
But restaurants around the country are starting to dispense high-quality wines from stainless steel kegs that can hold the equivalent of 26 bottles.
"Free Flow", a California company hoping to get their keg system into Florida bars and restaurants claims their gas-filled kegs keep wine fresh indefinitely. They also tout the environmental benefits.
"A single keg can eliminate the need for thousands of bottles that sadly end up in a landfill more often than you think," reads a promotional video.
The problem is Florida law doesn't allow wine to be stored in anything larger than a gallon jug. State lawmakers in both the House and Senate thought it was time to repeal that arcane regulation.
"This is a new technology and we think Florida and the consumers can benefit immensely," said Republican State Representative Frank Artiles of Miami, who sponsored the House bill allowing larger wine kegs. The bill is just waiting for the Governor's signature.
"We're all for it. We see the advantages of it," said 717 South owner, Michael Stewart.
Stewart likes the idea of a system that would eliminate the inevitable waste that results when an opened bottle sits too long.
"I hate to waste product. We have a lot of high-end wines that a certain group likes, and if it doesn't sell, we have to pour it down the drai,n" said Stewart.
The large kegs are legal in 48 other states. If it's permitted in Florida, the beverage industry expects wine lovers to benefit from lower prices.
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