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Category Archives: Wine news

Winebits 340: When you think three-tier can’t get any more foolish, it does

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three-tier system

How does anyone make sense of these three-tier decisions without a crate of aspirin?

The Wine Curmudgeon always underestimates the silliness of the three-tier system — which governs alcohol sales in the U.S. — even though I have been writing about it for 20 years:

Only in Texas: What happens if you open a chain of liquor stores in the Lone Star State and run it successfully? You get sued — by other retailers who claim you’re violating state law. Like most three-tier stories, it’s terribly confusing, but the gist is this: Texas law says only state residents (for at least a year) can get a retail license to sell booze, but the law hasn’t been enforced in more than two decades. Total Wine, a Maryland chain that has opened six stores in the state, is being sued by the trade group that represents Texas liquor stores because Total isn’t a state resident. The trade group says that a recent Missouri case validated the residency requirement that Texas hasn’t enforced, and wants Total’s license revoked. Yes, I know, it makes my head hurt, too.

Cold beer? How dare you? A federal judge had told Indiana convenience stores and supermarkets that they can sell warm beer and cold wine, but not cold beer, reports Supermarket News — even though liquor stores can sell cold beer. His logic? That the state would have a more difficult time preventing beer sales to minors if c-stores and supermarkets sold cold beer. Apparently, minors don’t try to buy cold wine or warm beer at gas stations by asking their friend who works there to ring it up as motor oil. Still, before we start making too much fun of the judge, know this: His logic makes perfect sense given the legal underpinnings of the three-tier system, which allows each state to regulate liquor sales as it sees fit. If Indiana law says everything possible must be done to prevent underage drinking, and the state insists that grocery store cold beer sales will make this difficult, then the judge didn’t have much choice.

Beer at Oktoberfest? Not in Utah: The Wine Curmudgeon has a soft spot in his heart for Utah’s liquor laws, because they have managed to retain their 19th-century Victorian charm in the 21st century. The latest? That the state’s liquor cops require an event be for “the common good” before they will grant a permit to sell alcohol for something like a festival or concert. And, since the Snowbird Ski Resort near Salt Lake City couldn’t demonstrate that its annual Oktoberfest was for the common good, it didn’t get a license to sell beer or wine. That the idea of “common good” — whatever that is — is not part of state law, but from rules written by the liquor cops, only makes this decision that much more charming.

Winebits 338: Wine snobs edition

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wine snobs“I don’t drink that”: Radio host, wine judge, and raconteur Tim McNally addresses those of you, who, for no particular reason, refuse to drink certain wines. McNally takes on everyone who has ever turned up their nose at white, rose, riesling, imports, and most of what’s in between, calling it “something which is encapsulated in the ‘Don’t screw me up with the facts lifestyle.”  Plus, being a New Orleanian, he works in a football reference, which is nicely done.

Enough with the tasting notes already: Someone, no doubt heir to the English comedic tradition that is so admired here, stuck fake tasting notes over the real notes on wines at a London grocery store. “Agile clam flavours with a suspicion of red kryptonite,” anyone? Or, as, Jake Wallis Simons writes in The Telegraph: “I doubt I’m alone in suspecting that it’s all just a case of the Emperor’s new clothes.” Not that that sentiment has ever appeared anywhere on the blog, of course. The good news is that the world is changing, and the traditional tasting note — what the headline to this story calls “a load of old drivel” — seems to mean less than it used to. 

The truth about wine: This infographic from the Wine Folly website called “Being a Wine Connoisseur” pretty much says everything that needs to be said about too many wine drinkers (though it is a bit harsh on supermarket wine). My favorite: The “Wine over time” bit, describing how we feel about a crappy wine two hours after we drink it. Which, of course, is that it tastes much better. Wine Folly, which is part wine education site and part wine-related gifts retailer, does a very nice job, and makes me wish I had done some some of the things that it does.

Vote for your favorite Wine Blog Awards finalist

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wine bloog awardsBut you can’t vote for me, because I didn’t participate this year. Winning last year was enough — time to spread the wealth around and let the world see how many great blogs and websites there are.

The list of finalists is here. The quality of the finalists this year is outstanding, even without me. But if you’re going to vote, a few thoughts:

• My pal Alfonso Cevola is listed for best single subject blog for On the Wine Trail in Italy.

• Jon Thorsen, who does the Reverse Wine Snob and writes about cheap wine, is listed for best wine review.

• W. Blake Gray, who brings a reporter’s sensibility to what he does at The Gray Report, is a finalist for best writing.

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