Sometimes when American kids complain about the smallest things, parents say "at least you don't live in [insert downtrodden, usually African country here]." Because really, most of the time, none of us really bother to think about how well off we are, especially compared with the rest of the world.
Now, when wine lovers complain about the fact that they can't get their favorite bottles shipped from California to Illinois, we can say "At least you don't live in Russia."
Thanks to the bumbling bureaucracy of the Russian government and trade ministries, wine is nearly totally absent from shelves in stores across the country. The reason? A set of new regulations that sound like something out of a Thomas Heller's Catch-22:
All imported wines sold in the country must have an excise stamp, which gets changed every year.
All wines that have not been sold from the previous year must have their old stamps replaced by new stamps.
The deadline for excise stamp compliance is tomorrow, the first of July.
The stamps were not made available until a few weeks ago.
And, by the way, the only people who can put the stamps on are the importers. NOT the retailers.
"The entire wine trade in the country is paralyzed" says one insider, as retailers are being forced to yank their wines off the shelves and send them back to the importer for stamping leaving Russian wine lovers without their own cellars high and dry.
Apparently the stamps are normally supposed to come out 6 months in advance of the deadline, but you know how governments work....
Raise a glass this weekend (again) in solidarity with your Russian wine drinking friends. They need all the spiritual support they can get.
A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.
Wine and Beauty Explained San Francisco's Lost Sommeliers Finding Pirate Treasure With a Corkscrew Vinography Unboxed: Week of March 1, 2015 Vinography Images: Sonoma Spring Siduri Wines: Rewarding the Search for Flavor Vinography Unboxed: Week of February 22, 2015 Vinography Images: Frost and Fog The Glory of 2013 Napa Cabernet: Tasting Premiere Napa Valley A Dose of Claret: Visiting With 2010 Bordeaux
Wine Will Never Smell the Same Again: Luca Turin and the Science of Scent Forlorn Hope: The Remarkable Wines of Matthew Rorick Debating Robert Parker At His Invitation Passopisciaro Winery, Etna, Sicily: Current Releases Should We Care What Winemakers Say? The Sweet Taste of Freedom: Austria's Ruster Ausbruch Wines 2009 Burgundy Vintage According to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti Charles Banks: The New Man Behind Mayacamas Wine from the Caldera: The Incredible Viticulture of Santorini Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Chateau Rayas and the 2012 Vintage of Chateauneuf-du-Pape A Life Indomitable: The Wines of Casal Santa Maria, Portugal Bay Area Bordeaux: Tasting Santa Cruz Mountain Cabernets Forgotten Jewels: Reviving Chile's Old Vine Carignane The First-Timer's Guide to Les Trois Glorieuses of Hospices de Beaune