Ever since wine has fallen under the jurisdiction of state governments, there has been an ongoing battle regarding censorship. The state argues that alcohol (including wine) is an evil that needs to be highly regulated and even censored when appropriate. Although their intentions are pure, their implementation of restrictions is down-right ludicrous.
A few weeks back, I reported about an incident covered by Wine Spectator that took place in Alabama. The Alabama Alcohol Control Board decided to ban the wine produced by Cycles Gladiator. They enacted this ban because the bottle has a replica of a painting depicting a naked woman flying next to a bicycle on the label and deemed it pornographic. Although Cycles Gladiator historically produces some very average to poor wines, the ban effectively provided them with unwarranted amounts of publicity and drove sales to levels they have never seen. Good work ‘Bama, you promoted a horrible wine!
Now, enter the Maine representative David Webster (D- from Freeport). As reported in the Kennebec Journal on Monday, Webster has successfully proposed an amendment to L.D. 498. It states that alcoholic taste-testing activities must be conducted in a manner that precludes the possibility of observation by children. Here we go again!
Let us take this opportunity to look at this law and raise some points/ask some questions.
1) Children should not be in the beer/wine/alcohol section of a grocery store during tastings without their parents or guardian.
2) If children are there, it is because their parents decided that they do not mind (either intentionally or unintentionally) if their children are exposed to these actions.
3) If a tasting happens to be observed from a distance, it provides parents with the opportunity to engage in a productive dialogue with their children (or tell them they are sampling iced tea for grown-ups).
3) Why are wine shops coupled in with establishments that serve hard liquor?
4) Does this mean that restaurants which allow children in, which would be all of them, are no longer allowed to serve alcohol?
It is comical that these questions take only a matter of seconds to think of, yet were not considered or proposed for correction until after the law had been passed!
To be fair, the article points out that wine shops and restaurants were never intended to be coupled with liquor and grocery stores that do beer and hard liquor tastings. They were able to straighten things out regarding restaurants, but unfortunately not wine shops.
Regardless, beginning September 12th, wine shops will have to cordon off areas in which they conduct wine tastings, or black-out their windows and not permit children inside with their parents, or simply stop doing tastings altogether. The sad thing is, whatever step they end up taking will more likely then not only be needed until January, when legislative proceedings restart and it is anticipated that corrections will be made.
My heart goes out to those people who have wine shops throughout Maine. You all have effectively been hosed by your representatives who should be forced to pay some means of reparations for lost opportunity. It is not a surprise how bills that are rushed for a vote, although well intentioned, are often poorly thought through!
My advice to lawmakers is to stop unnecessarily micro-managing of our lives! We are capable of taking care of ourselves and making appropriate decisions for our families. Put in place some thoughtful laws and let us follow them instead of knit-picking us at every turn.