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07.15.2010

The Threat to Your Wine Independence

In the last two weeks I've celebrated both Independence Day and Bastille Day. How, you may ask? Mostly by drinking a lot of wine. But that's beside the point. Around this time of year, I find myself thinking about the great liberties I enjoy as a wine lover in California and in the United States. In the process I inevitably consider the plight of those poor souls who have the unfortunate luck to have become wine lovers in states where their access to good booze comes only at the pleasure of a cartel made up of puritanical lawmakers and the lobbyists that have them in pocket. While it's possible to purchase weapons, deadly chemicals, ammunition, and child pornography on the internet and have it sent to your home everywhere in the United States, some people cannot legally order a bottle of wine.

As if this weren't bad enough, there's now a movement, even a congressional bill (H.R. 5034) that has as its singular goal, to make sure both that this situation never changes, but also that it can only become much worse for consumers over time.

I know, it sounds crazy, but the folks who profit from making the ordering of wine over the internet a crime are out to make sure that it stays that way. The National Beer and Wine Wholesalers organization has managed to lobby several Representatives to draft what almost every Alcohol trade organization in the country is the most anti-consumer piece of legislation they've ever seen.

I wrote about this bill when it first emerged from whatever backroom or cesspool that creates this kind of Congressional perfidy. Since then a wave of opposition to the bill has emerged in this country, and kindled the slightest bit of faith that the backbone exists to stand up to the prospect of having our lives run by those who can afford to pay politicians enough to create laws in their favor.

The bill itself has now been "held up" for a time, and no more hearings are going on about it due to a somewhat mysterious concern over a "constitutional issue" with the proposed legislation.

In the meantime, no doubt daunted by the overwhelming opposition from the public and the industry, the Wholesalers have created HR5034.Org, a web site worthy of the most heinous spin doctors in the industry.

But rather than take my word for the new heights of disinformation that this site offers, I suggest you listen to the guy who spends a lot of his time fighting the good fight for wine consumers everywhere.

Go read Tom Wark's article that demonstrates just how deceptive the Wholesalers are willing to be in order to make sure that their interests could never be subject to judicial review.

If you're an adult, legal consumer of any alcoholic beverage, and believe you should have the right to order it on the Internet no matter where you live, you should pay attention to this issue.

We value our freedom as Americans, in particular our freedom to make our lives better by changing laws when they are unjust. That freedom may soon be threatened.

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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.