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08.06.2008

Italy Gets it Right. Scotland Gets it Very, Very Wrong.

There are those of you who believe that one of my favorite things to do here on Vinography consists of bashing the French government. Believe me, I wish I had no cause to do that whatsoever, but they just keep inviting it.

Today, however, I'm happy to prove that I'm an equal opportunity mudslinger, as I pronounce the latest proposals on alcohol regulation by the Scottish government to be profoundly and malignantly ridiculous. The UK, it seems, has a problem with binge drinking, or so the government claims, and with the best intentions, has set out to do something about it. Unfortunately, like the best bureaucracies run by those completely out of touch with reality, they have stumbled from one idiotic idea to another.

The first plan of attack was to make all the glassware smaller, because bigger glasses presumably produce the unavoidable delusion that you're not drinking very much and therefore you won't admit just how drunk you really are.

Not content to leave it at that, the Scottish government has proposed a set of sweeping reforms to the drinks industry the likes of which haven't been seen in the English speaking world since Chicago in the 1920's. The proposals on the table include raising the minimum age for getting a drink to 21 years old; restricting the purchasing of liquor to only certain checkout aisles in stores; requiring a minimum price per fluid unit of alcohol; and in a move right out of the French playbook, restricting the advertising of wine and spirits.

Soon, you'll be able to vote and serve in the armed forces in Scotland, but you might not be able to buy a pint for another three years after that. At least, that;s the brilliant idea being proposed by some nincompoop in Edinburgh.

If the dark side of the force is strong in Scotland, the light side seems to be triumphing in Italy, which finally agreed to allow its wine producers to package their wines however the hell they want to without losing their DOCG designations. Which is to say that soon you'll be able to get Italian wine in a box.

While you might not jump for joy at this prospect your own personal wine-loving self, if you're concerned with Italy continuing to compete on the world market, this has got to make you pretty happy. I know I'm pleased as punch. There's a huge market for boxed wine in Europe (think: Tesco supermarkets in Nottingham) and it's a great thing for Italian producers to be able to tap into that demand without being forced to declassify, and therefore devalue their products.

Bravo, Italia.

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