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 Filed as : Wine TipsNewsGeneral

The Politics Of Wine

Apr 13, 2011
The Politics Of Wine
Gain a higher understanding of the wine-shipping bill in Congress.

shipping_wineLast week, all the talk was about a government shutdown. This week in Florida, much of the talk has been about alcohol at the annual Convention and Exhibition of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America. This is where producers and distributors get together to discuss the business of selling wine, beer and spirits.

Likely a hot topic over the two days: HR 1161, the wholesaler-backed bill in Congress many are concerned will threaten consumers' ability to buy a wine directly from a winery or store and have it shipped to them. We let you know about the latest incarnation of the bill in a Daily Sip™ edition last week, but we felt it worth explaining what's really at the core of the controversy.

Click here to listen to an interesting, informative discussion about HR 1161 between Bottlenotes founder/CEO Alyssa Rapp and the company's editorial director Eric Arnold. They get into all the details as to why America's wholesalers actively lobby against direct-to-consumer shipments, why the debate is so heated and even where the fight could be headed--perhaps back to the Supreme Court someday.

Believe it or not, this debate isn't solely about online wine sales. The same part of the Constitution--known as the Commerce Clause--that's a major point of contention with the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is at play in the wine-shipping debate--along with the 21st Amendment, of course, which repealed Prohibition and created the wholesalers.

Listen to the discussion, and then weigh in with your thoughts on the debate. Do you think consumers should be able to take the wine-shipping battle to the courts? Tell us below.

[Clarification: In the recorded discussion, I incorrectly stated that the 21st Amendment to the Constitution created the three-tier system. I was making perhaps too aggressive a mental leap, as the 21st only gives the states the right to control alcohol sales within their borders. In most cases, though not all (the state government in Pennsylvania controls alcohol sales), states instituted a three-tier system. However, it is my opinion that as the Commerce Clause--which prohibits discriminatory practices that inhibit interstate commerce--gains importance in other political debates, such as the one over health care, all laws that establish barriers to interstate commerce stand to be reexamined thoroughly if not repealed. Both I and Bottlenotes apologize for and regret the error. --Eric Arnold]

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