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Wine on tap idea a great innovation

Wine on tap idea a great innovation

Samantha’s Tap Room and Wood Grill in Little Rock is on the cutting edge of wine serving in the Natural State. It’s the first restaurant in Little Rock to offer all wine and beer on tap, through a top-of-the-line tap system with 32 beers and 20 wines offered.

The restaurant was awarded the 2015 KEGGY Peoples Choice Award given by Free Flow Wines of California. The award was announced in September and officially presented Oct. 22 in Napa Valley, Calif. In a news release, Free Flow Wines said, “Samantha’s was chosen for going above and beyond in the wine on tap category.”

If you consider how long it took for the world to accept screw top closures on wine bottles, it’s no wonder there’s some confusion and misunderstanding surrounding the wine keg.

The wine keg is one of the biggest innovations in the wine industry. It offers restaurants the ability to preserve wine by slowing the inevitable stages of oxidation and spoilage, as well as promoting environmental responsibility with less waste and packaging. Even better for consumers, it allows us to explore many different wines in one setting.

It works much like a beer on tap system. Most kegs are around 20 liters, holding the equivalent of about 25 standard 750 mL bottles. The wine is sent from the vintner to a distributor and then filled into stainless-steel kegs. When the keg arrives at the restaurant, a plastic tubing system connects the keg to the tap dispenser and a gas (mostly nitrogen) is used to pump the wine through the system into the glass. In turn, making the wine on tap idea a great innovation. 

In a news release, Jordan Kivelstadt, founder and chief executive officer of Free Flow Wines, said, “As of today, Free Flow Wines and our partners have saved 5,805,618 bottles, corks and foils from the landfill, totaling almost 9 million pounds of trash. … That’s a significant reduction in waste, and as an industry, we should all be very proud of that accomplishment.”

Of course wine bottles are not going away and will continue to be the standard packaging for wine. There are not many who will be installing keg systems in their homes, but there’s no question the system is a great innovation.

Versatile grapes are diner’s best friend

Wine MenuOrdering wine in a restaurant without a sommelier or wine-savvy waiter, particularly when the list is long on wines from unfamiliar vineyards, can be hit or miss.

Who wouldn’t love a quick checklist of the world’s best and most versatile wines? By familiarizing yourself with the following versatile grape varietals, selecting the right wine for anything from steak to gazpacho will be less daunting.

Generally these wines will not be extreme in acidity, tannin or price.


Because of the moderate acidity and tannins, most Italian wines complement an array of foods. But if put on the spot in an Italian restaurant, Chianti made from the sangiovese grape would be the most versatile wine on the list.


  • 2009 Coltibuono Chianti Cetamura DOCG, Italy (about $13 retail)


  • 2009 Coltibuono Chianti Classico Estate, Italy (about $28 retail)


The Gruner Veltliner grape complements almost any food offering. With its slight spiciness and bright acidity, it pairs well with the range of flavors in Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. Growing in popularity, it’s showing up on many Asian restaurant wine lists.


  • 2009 Michlits Stadlmann Gruner Veltliner, Austria (about $17 retail)


  • 2009 Oriel Or tolan Falkenstein Gruner Veltliner, Austria (about $25 retail)


Keeping in mind seafood’s varying texture and weight, you need a wine that can not only complement but also compete. Chardonnay is found on almost every wine list in the world and is a safe bet to order with seafood.


  • 2010 Concannon Vineyards Chardonnay, California (about $12 retail)


  • 2010 J. Lohr Chardonnay Riverstone, California (about $18 retail)


Perhaps no other cuisine in the world demands a proper wine pairing more than French food. Rather than chose a pricey Bordeaux or Burgundy, consider a wine from Northern Rhone. It is likely to be one of the best values on the list, and it complements a wide range of dishes.


  • Cellier Des Dauphins Cotes Du Rhone Rouge, France (about $9 retail)


  • Domaine de la Becassonne Cotes du Rhone Rouge, France (about $18 retail)