Top 10 Wackiest Wine Laws That Still Exist

Top 10 Wackiest Wine Laws That Still Exist

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?


About the Author:

This post was written by the Enobytes staff. Eat Well. Drink Well. Live Well!


  1. Top Ten Wacky Wine Laws | Wine For Newbies December 24, 2008 at 2:28 PM - Reply

    […] love it when my vocation and hobby cross paths. I must admit I’m surprised that Indiana was not singled out for any insane wine laws. Indiana did, of course, show up along with a few other states for our yearly “thou shalt not […]

  2. Pat December 24, 2008 at 7:55 PM - Reply

    In Maui County (which is different from Honolulu and Hawaii island) you can only consume an alcoholic beverage every other hole.

  3. Laurie December 25, 2008 at 12:48 AM - Reply

    How about North Dakota – Beer and pretzels cannot be served at the same time in any bar or restaurant!

  4. […] rated a mention on the Enobytes web site’s “Top 10 Wackiest Wine Laws That Still Exist” posting (thanks to BobD from the Wellesley Wine Press for passing […]

  5. Saleem S Noorani December 26, 2008 at 7:22 PM - Reply

    I am an agent for two liquor stores in Oregon. Call me…………….Saleem
    email me to converse…….

  6. Jeremy Benson January 5, 2009 at 9:57 AM - Reply

    This is a great post. Here’s one (of many): the courts have ruled in AZ and IN that a consumer must be present at the winery first in order to have a purchase sent to them. In Ohio, you can’t order wine directly from a winery, or wine company, that produces in aggregate more than about 100,000 cases.

    But these laws can be changed to improve consumer choice. In full disclosure, we run Free the Grapes!, which seeks to convert our frustration into constructive action (legal, regulated shipments from wineries and retailers). So please visit us online and sign-up for direct shipping email updates on your state laws, and how you can help improve them. Because consumers ARE making a difference on this issue. Thanks for reading.

  7. Mike February 4, 2009 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    Indiana: It’s illegal for liquor stores to sell milk or cold soft drinks. They can, however, sell soft drinks at room temperature (???)

  8. Dan February 4, 2009 at 2:59 PM - Reply

    how about this one. In Pennsylvania, you must buy a case at a beer distributor, six-packs must be purchased at a tavern, and the exception is the grocery store with eat-in cafe.

  9. wine glasses February 7, 2009 at 7:17 AM - Reply

    My personal taste in wine varies with the time of year, location and influence of friends. I recently discoverd a fantastic house wine served at a local Italian restaurant that is incredible for the price. One thing that helps any wine is to serve it at the right temperature using the most suitable glasses.

  10. Randall February 10, 2009 at 10:08 AM - Reply

    Growing up in NW Florida we could buy bottles of booze at a drive up window along with a soda and the attendant would throw in plastic cups filled with ice.
    Parts of Louisiana still have drive thru daquiri shops to get your frozen drinks topped with 151 rum and never leave your car.
    I love the deep south!!

  11. Robert Jones February 20, 2009 at 12:25 AM - Reply

    The section about New York states, “Sell a gift bag to a wine buying customer and you’ll be fined $10,000.” This is actually false information. The law actually states that the Liquor Authority’s Board of Commissioners and Administrative Law Judges may impose a maximum fine of $10,000 for any violation, not specifically the sale of gift bags. Fines intended to exceed this amount must be sentenced by an outside judicial review. In the specific investigation that this posting is referring to, the defendant was only fined $500, not $10,000.

  12. Alaska Lawyers April 6, 2009 at 1:55 AM - Reply

    I disagree with the above remark. I think in these tough economic times we need to rethink our old ways of thinking. For more information visit

  13. D.R. Mil November 17, 2010 at 1:01 PM - Reply

    Correction- Petite Sirah is not a native or indigenous grape it is a Hybrid of Peloursin and Syrah both of which are in the Vitis vinifera and not the North American Native family of Vitis aestivalis,Vitis rupestris, Vitis riparia, Vitis rotundifolia, or Vitis labrusca. And the name Durif is a synonymys of Petite Sirah. Durif is actually the name of the enologist who made the cross. I am sure all of this is laid out on P.S. I love you’s site.

  14. Bill November 17, 2010 at 3:45 PM - Reply

    D.R. Mil is correct in identifying Petite Sirah as the same critter as Durif, a cross between Peloursin and Syrah. However, this “cross” should be called a “metis,” not a “hybrid” because Peloursin and Syrah are varieties of the same species, Vitis Vinifera.

  15. Joe November 17, 2010 at 3:51 PM - Reply

    Georgia’s since repealed a lot of silly laws. Still can’t buy anything on Sunday. All this has done is create sort of a “sixth sense” to instinctively procure one’s “Sunday beer” on Saturday evening.

  16. Bradley November 18, 2010 at 12:28 AM - Reply

    Curious if you guys found an election day ban in Idaho, as there was one recently in Boise.

    Also, as a former Banfi’s employee and Cornell grad, I like this article even more!

  17. enobytes November 18, 2010 at 7:26 PM - Reply

    Thanks for the clarification D.R. Mil & Bill.

  18. enobytes November 18, 2010 at 7:27 PM - Reply

    Joe, agreed.

    Bradley, cheers!

  19. […] The ban on alcohol containing energy drinks last week appears to be part of an American emphasis on “temperance” dating back religious values that were prevalent during the founding of our nation. If defined simply as “responsible use of alcohol,” temperance is surely a good thing–as long as those powers rest with individuals. But the term has become an excuse for a host of government intrusions and perpetuation of some really odd regulations. For example, see Enobytes Top Ten Wackiest Wine Laws. […]

  20. Tablet April 26, 2011 at 3:14 PM - Reply

    Your site has helped me a lot to bring back additional confidence in myself. Gives thanks! Ive recommended it to my friends as well.

  21. Hanatoep August 1, 2011 at 9:23 AM - Reply

    This list is soooo funny! Thanks for the pick-me-up :)

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