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04.16.2010

Are You A Wine Lover? Then Call Your House Representative. Now.

I've been known to spout an opinion now and again about the Three Tier alcohol distribution system in this country, and the maddening array of ridiculous regulations that govern our ability to purchase alcohol. Mostly, however, I stay out of the fray because I'd rather write about, and I'm sure you'd rather read about, fantastic wines.

But something happened yesterday that sent chills down my spine, and made it imperative that I broadcast to as many of you as possible the urgent need to call your Congressional Representative immediately. When you get one of their aides on the phone here's what you need to say:

Under no circumstances should they vote for a house bill HR 5034: The Comprehensive Alcohol Regulatory Effectiveness Act of 2010.

This bill, introduced by representatives Bill Delahunt (D Mass) Mike Quigley (D Ill.), Howard Coble (RN. C.) and Jason Chaffetz (R Utah), was purportedly authored by the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

This bill, which you can read in its entire three short pages, is available here (PDF).

The bill is insidious in its simplicity. It would make it effectively impossible to challenge any state's laws about alcohol distribution or direct shipping by forcing the challenger to prove that any particular law "has no effect on the promotion of temperance, the establishment or maintenance of orderly alcoholic beverage markets, the collection of alcoholic beverage taxes, the structure of the state alcoholic beverage distribution system, or the restriction of access to alcoholic beverages by those under the legal drinking age.''

In other words, as long as any state can prove that its laws produce tax revenues or prevent children from buying alcohol, those laws, no matter how discriminatory, anti-competitive, or anti-consumer cannot be overturned by a legal challenge by any party or any act of Congress.

Under their usual guise of trying to "protect the children" from an "epidemic of alcoholism" the liquor wholesalers lobby has introduced a bill that effectively keeps the alcohol laws of this country an affair to be settled by state legislators and their wholesaler lobbyist friends.

This bill must be stopped. It effectively prevents any progress towards fixing the antiquated and consumer unfriendly alcohol shipping laws in this country.

Please call, write, e-mail, and otherwise hound your Congressional Representative and tell them to vote against this bill. Here's the easiest way to find, and contact your congressperson.

This is serious business. If this bill passes, consumers will have lost the ability to fight in the courts for laws that allow them to buy the wine they want, where they want.

Read what the Wine Spectator has to say about the bill.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.