We all know how ridiculous U.S. wine laws can be across the board. I could probably spend the better part of my day listing all of the absurdities, but in conjunction we have contacted our legal department at Dewey, Drink-Man and Howe (DDMH) and they have made the following comments on these laws…
1. Alaska – In Fairbanks, AK, it is illegal to serve alcoholic beverages to moose. I’m pretty sure Sarah Palin had nothing to do with this law since she likes to hunt moose and we all know it’s easier to hunt drunk moose than it is to hunt sober moose but don’t tell Dick Cheney. He might decide to go hunting again.
2. New York – According to the New York State Liquor Authority, you can buy wine, wine glasses, wine stoppers and corkscrews at a liquor store, but the state of New York prohibits them from selling wine gift bags. Sell a gift bag to a wine buying customer and you’ll be fined $10,000. And the kicker? No one seems to understand what the law entails, but it’s clear the state will enforce it. DDMH: Quote: After purchasing wine in several NY stores, and being presented with some pretty snazzy bags for our wine including logos (and lets not forget that nice velvety bag on Crown Royale), we’re lost on this one.
3. Oregon – “A pharmacist licensed under the laws of this state may sell alcoholic beverages without a license [in containers of not more than a one-quart capacity].” Do you have an opening for your first seating, and is there a Reserve list?
4. Oregon – “ORS 471.162. Persons exempted from license requirement. (1) Hospitals, sanitariums, convalescent homes, rest homes, retirement homes and facilities for the care of the elderly that have been licensed or registered by the state may sell and serve alcoholic beverages to patients, inmates and residents, and to bona fide visitors and guests of patients, inmates and residents, without a license issued under this chapter. Facilities authorized to sell and serve alcoholic beverages without a license under this subsection may not sell or serve alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. except upon a physician’s prescription.” This was funny untill they mentioned inmates.
5. Seven states still enforce Prohibition-era Bans on Election Day – Not even a cocktail in Indiana, Kentucky and South Carolina! “The only states that still cling to statewide Election Day sales bans of alcohol at restaurants, bars and package stores are Kentucky, Indiana and South Carolina. Utah and West Virginia still ban the sale of alcohol at package stores on Election Day. Alaska and Massachusetts also ban Election Day alcohol sales, except that local governments are authorized to provide an exemption from the ban”. Can you imagine being stuck at an airport on Election Day?
6. In many states, it is illegal to carry an alcoholic drink from the bar to a table. In some states its illegal to sit at a bar (standing room only) and in other states, you have to be seated to be served! I remember being in Wellesley, MA and saying to a bartender, “You must be a really be a bad bartender, they took away all your seats”. I cant’ keep up with all these wacky state laws!
7. Missouri – In St. Louis, it is illegal to sit on a street curb and drink beer from a bucket. This must have been a tradition for discharged employees at Anheuser-Busch.
8. Nebraska – It is illegal for a bar to sell beer unless it is simultaneously brewing a kettle of soup. This one makes a lot of sense to our legal staff because if you are drinking beer you are going to need some soup.
9. Oregon – Prior to 2007, it was illegal for Oregon producers to label a wine Petite Sirah. Before 2007, producers had to list it as Durif. This varietal is the unsung hero of our dubious indigenous grape variety – let us support its significance heralding something positive that happened because of prohibition. Want to know more about Petite Sirah? Check out the advocacy group P.S. I Love You.
10. Ohio – It is illegal to get a fish drunk. That’s just cruel. Is this a real law?
And I’ll throw in another tidbit which is more of a annoyance than it is a law – If you think you are frustrated by the TSA 3-1-1 rules, aggravation is sure to escalate with new airline policies. Some airlines are simply refusing passengers to check wine as checked luggage, and other airlines consider wine a “Fragile and/or & Bulky Item”. What does this mean? It means that airlines are limiting their liability and/or forcing passengers to pony up additional costs by shipping via cargo.
Now its your turn – what’s is the wackiest wine law you’ve recently come across?