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07.17.2013

Buying Wine in America

buy_this_wine.jpgHere in the United States, we've just finished celebrating our independence as a nation, and students of history will know that the battles fought and won for this cause, while clearly ideological, were largely motivated by commercial interests. In short, we were damn tired of not being able to buy and sell what we wanted, when we wanted. Our Independence Day remains as much a celebration of capitalism as anything else.

The irascible nature of America in the face of constraints on commerce has been one of the driving forces of my country's progress for more than two hundred years. Yet there is one product more than any other whose trade America seems perfectly content to squeeze, forestall, and otherwise thwart.

OK. Child pornography, high-explosives, and an increasingly long list of things that terrorists have used to manufacture bombs notwithstanding, one of the hardest things to buy in America remains a bottle of wine.

Yes, we wine lovers continue to struggle for our own independence in the face of backward-thinking morality, protectionism, and crony capitalism. I've discussed the bizarre and conflicting laws that make sending someone a bottle of wine or buying one along with your groceries a bona-fide nightmare, but this month let's explore all the options available to Americans and visitors to our shores. I humbly present to you: a primer on buying wine in America.

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This article is my monthly column at JancisRobinson.Com, Alder on America, and is available only to subscribers of her web site. If you're not familiar with the site, I urge you to give it a try. It's only £6.99 a month or £69 per year ($11/mo or $109 a year for you Americans) and well worth the cost, especially considering you basically get free, searchable access to the Oxford Companion to Wine ($65) and the World Atlas of Wine ($50) as part of the subscription costs. Click here to sign up.

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Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson Wine Grapes The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson to cork or not to cork by George Taber reading between the vines by Terry Theise 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 Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud