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05.09.2011

Feeling the Pain of Canadian Wine Lovers

I like to complain a lot about the state of wine shipping laws in America. It's a backwards system that favors the kleptocratic state-run monopolies and their distribution chain cronies (or is it the other way around?). And don't get me started on HR 1161, one of the worst pieces of legislation to hit our House of Representatives in recent memory.

Of course, we Americans like to think we're on our own in both good times and in bad, but any wine lover who's spent time in Canada knows that things are just as bad up there, if not worse. As bad as some states are, the selection of wines that even the most ridiculously corrupt liquor control boards stock vastly exceed those found in their Canadian counterparts.

And then there are those Canadian laws which say it's literally illegal to take alcohol across state lines. Nevermind sticking it in a box and shipping it. Walk across the border with a bottle of wine and you're technically in serious trouble, though prosecutions aren't all that common.

I got to thinking about all this the other day while reading (and commiserating with) a story about a guy who is going to protest these Canadian laws by (gasp) walking from British Colombia to Alberta with a box of wine under one arm.

I could completely empathize with his frustration at the inanity of the laws that mirror our own here in the US, and which prevent wineries in one part of the country from shipping their wine to citizens in another province.

Perhaps the most striking part of the story, however, was not the resemblance and commensurate levels of stupidity of our laws, but the quite honest admission of Canadian government officials that these laws were a sweet source of revenue that they were loathe to give up.

Our American politicians prefer to talk about the perils of letting alcohol fall into the hands of our youth, while sidestepping the vast amounts of money that flows into state coffers from state-run liquor stores, and into politician's pockets from distribution companies.

In any case, I'm raising a glass to Mr. Terry David Mulligan, and his efforts to point out the stupidity and rapaciousness of such laws.

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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.