« Mr. Gjerde goes to Washington | Main | Bundt and buzz »

March 10, 2010

Put a cork in it

wino bustIn this week's Shallow Thought Wednesdays post, John Lindner sticks it to state lawmakers. I think he should take them out for a beer -- or a glass of wine -- and patch things up. LV

If you disagree that wine is food, then this STW violates every cherished rule the previous management erected to keep scoundrels like me from running roughshod over the D@L terroir. Not only is the following post shallow, it’s divisive and politically charged. I apologize in advance. Or, as they say in Annapolis, "Thank you for understanding."
I'm delighted to hear that Mother Maryland has seen fit to protect us from the horrors of interstate wine shipment. Oh whatever would we do without our noble champions?

The good nannies predict that a bill freeing adults to purchase wine from vineyards (or wherever) and accept the consequent out-of-state shipments into Maryland is unlikely to pass this year (as reported by
Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun). Or any other year for that matter.
Unlikely? Why not cock a snook in our general direction and be bold about it: “We’re not going to upset the gravy train for a pack of budget-conscious winos.”

Instead, we get this smarmily contemptible : "’If just one teen is able to buy and consume wine over the Internet*, and then goes out and kills someone’, [Baltimore County Liquor Board Chairman Thomas] Minkin said, ‘how could lawmakers live with themselves?’"

The answer: "Without a moment's difficulty." 

The picture Minkin paints of conscience-tortured lawmakers pacing their bedrooms at night because a teenager ordered a case of Malbec and then drove off into a manslaughter is beyond laughable. Would that lawmakers were so concerned about the consequences of their decisions.

Or maybe they just sell better mattresses in the 37 states that allow interstate wine shipments? I guess in DC, where Internet wine purchases and interstate shipment is legal, what's one wine-sotted homicidal teenager more or less? But we sure wouldn't want their ilk in our neck of the woods. We're a peace-lovin' neighborhood.

I don't think the nannies' unwillingness to liberate Maryland wine drinkers would bother me so much if they'd just admit that it's all about the money. In this case, the liquor lobby is stuffing the coffers of state legislators. I get that.

Again from the story: "The liquor lobby that protects the system is one of the top campaign contributors, giving to more than 80 percent of the 188 General Assembly members - all of whom are up for election this fall." Put that in your Riedel and suck on it.

By the way, it's apparently illegal for you to ship wine to a free state and then bring that wine across Maryland state lines.
Well well. That should keep those crazed teenagers at bay.

*Just out of curiosity, how does one consume wine over the Internet? Am I missing an app?
Photo by Elvis Santana courtesy Stock Xchng

Posted by Laura Vozzella at 11:46 AM | | Comments (41)


Not so shallow today, eh JL?

It amazes me that a progressive state like MD continues to lag behind the rest of the union on this issue.

We can't have a bottle of decent wine shipped in because of crazed teen-agers ordering over the internet and having to wait 3 -5 business days to get it. I guess they don't just buy it locally any more.

Ah, but our enlightened Legislature says we CAN and WILL have Slots Parlors and (gasp) actual Casinos. Of course there's no crazed teen-agers going to Slots Parlors, just the usual unsavory adults.

have to disagree with you, Matt. Maryland is in NO Way a progressive state. This is just one more brick in the wall...

Don't worry, RiE, we won't have slots either. Nothing EVER happens in Annapolis!

The Preakness will soon be at Santa Anita, mark my words!

All this hubub over wine when anyone of any age can get Absinthe shipped here from Europe. May not have been legal, but several deliveries were made to my MD dorm back in college!

I'm curious, can a MD resident get wine shipped from a winery located in Maryland??

@ Dave the wave..
Not that I know of. My good friends at Cygnus prefer that you get in the car and get thee to the winery. Besides, most booze seeking minors are going to play the "hey mister" game. As in "hey mister, could you get us ____ and we'll pay for whatever you are buying as well."

Agreed, Joyce. Maryland pretends to be progressive.

Thank god we have these bold legislators to protect us from ourselves! Just think how awful life would be if we actually had to make our own decisions and choices.

Lame, lame, lame.

Note the original, sensible language:

Article 2B - Alcoholic Beverages

Yes, Meekrat. And what are those minors always asking for? Wine! Wine by the liter!

"Hey mister, could you get us a bottle of 2007 Tablas Creek Vineyard Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc and we'll pay for whatever you are buying as well. If they don't have that, we'll settle for a 2006 Peay Vineyards Scallop Shelf Estate."

Gotta love the fact that the woman in charge of making the decision as to whether or not the bill comes out of committee - Senator Joan Carter Conway -- who expresses her concern that an underage drinker will open that case of 2006 California Cabernet and drink themselves silly down in the rec room - this woman's husband is a member of the liquor industry which is fighting the bill, as a Liquor Inspector.

I've written before, it makes no difference, but...

From: sean...
Subject: Lack of choice for Maryland wine consumers
Date: Mar 10, 2010 1:05 PM

Senator Joan Carter Conway -

I thought I would refer you to this piece that recently appeared on the Baltimore Sun's website:

As with every other instance in which this issue is discussed, the public reaction to our legislature's inaction is overwhelmingly negative. It's a shame that Maryland does not have a more flexible system for referendum and initiative - I think it's clear that there is more than sufficient public support on this issue to nullify the influence of the booze lobby in Annapolis.

Sean ...
Baltimore, MD ...

Wow - captcha = to useless! How amazingly, incredibly appropriate. Wow. Five gold stars for that one.

Quit yer wining!

captcha: of lameness

Very well said John. The idea that a teen is going to order a case of wine from a small vineyard as opposed to going down the street for a bottle of Boone's is so damnably laughable.

Take lots of tub socks when going to Caly to visit wineries. Wrap those special wines sold only in tasting rooms in double tube socks and check your bags. Hope for the best when you retrieve your bags. "Oh Maryland My Maryland"

Good post jl! I agree with Josh.

When my wine shipments arrive, I have them sent here to work since the box requires a signature from someone who is at least 21 years old.

The box also specifies clearly that it "CONTAINS ALCOHOL" and also has
"Do Not Deliver to an Intoxicated Person" on it.

First of all, worrying about whether minors would be ordering cases of booze only makes sense if the liquor people didn't check out the credit card used. I don't know about you, but I didn't have a credit card when I was a kid.

Also, I am so tired of overly-protective laws that take away adult rights in concern of what Sweet Potato Queen author Jill Conner Browne calls "the chirren".

Kids get hold of everything these days.

I guess I wouldn't have as much a problem with the law -- it wouldn't affect me as much -- if liquor stores carried all the things that I want. They won't even special order things for me like Bourbon Ale. So, if I can't buy it at the lobbied-up (my new phrase, to invoke "mobbed-up") stores, why can't I order it?

They do have mail provisions for over-21 signatures... they use it with my meds. I guess I should be grateful that the insurance lobby allows my thyroid to work by mail and doesn't insist on my patronizing a Maryland store that may or may not carry what I want.

I am going to cut and paste Sean's letter and re-send it to the legislature with my name. The lobby is only as powerful as our weak voices if we don't speak, contribute, etc.

Unfortunately, I think the only way to get Maryland to join the rest of the country (well, most of it) is to vote these obstructionists out of office.

With such a powerful liquor lobby backing them, it's unlikely to happen. But perhaps if their constituents constantly badger them about it, we can at least make their lives miserable!

Zevonista, radical thoughts for Maryland, where a tree can be re-elected for life as long as it's a Democrat tree and a Republican tree.

For all of you looking to contact your legislator - a little tip shared from a lobbyist at work - don't send email - they generally don't read it.

Call them and give them your address so they know you're in their district - much more effective.

Baltimore Harbor
citizens throw crates turning
water into wine

I've actually already received the following response:

"Mr. ...,

The bill needs to cross over from the House. And if it does not, it means that the bill is dead and it does not matter if she votes the bill or not. Thank you for your e-mail. I will make sure the Senator receives it.

Michelle ...
Adm. Aide"

I wrote back asking whom I should contact about the bill "crossing over" from the House - no response yet!

No, they don't read their emails... or snail mail either, for that matter. I used to work for Sen. Paul Simon (remember the bow-tie guy?). I had a form letter to send to the crazies... "Thank you for your opinion on many subjects. It's people like you who make America great!"

I think his daughter is running for the US Senate in Illinois now.

Col Tamar and the Gent from Cross Keys,

If you refer to the bourbon ale originating in Lexington, I can probably deliver a case to you on my next trip east. Let me know.

Japan's emulsion - I think not

@Joyce - I love your posts! Spot on! Only can a politician stay in office for 25+ years and accomplish squat. They need to go!!

thanks, BaltBabs! at least I know I'm not alone in thinking that our politicians are spinning wheels for eternity! I agree, they do need to go!

(rising momentarily from the ashes of the Boulevard of Broken PCs using an acquaintance's laptop...)

Screw the tea parties. One two three four, I declare a vino war! Who's with me? Join the Bacchus Fracas.

What do we want?

Pinot Noir!

When do we want it!


Mr. O'Malley, tear down that wall (of Byzantine liquor laws.)

The new Whiskey Rebellion starts now!

I'll be a Happy Hour if you have any questions. Slainte!

Bonus points to Laura Lee!

I'm certainly all in favor of being able to order wine by mail-order, but the bigger issue to me is whether these legislators really think the voters are so stupid as to believe their stated reasoning instead of seeing right through it to their self-interests. Joanie is not alone in her motivations. Joe Vallario wants us to believe that he is voting in our interest by not allowing the bill out of committee that would prevent cops from wasting so much valuable time cooling their heels in District Court for defendants who have no intention of showing up. Nothing to do with the fact that he is a defense attorney. And I have a lovely bridge for sale.

I was a teenager long, long ago. I didn't want wine, I didn't like wine, none of my friends liked wine. We wanted beer, and beer we got. We went straight down Rt. 29 to Georgia Ave where it crossed the DC line. IT was legal to buy beer at 18 in DC, I guess I looked 18, no one ever asked. We bought our beer and brought it back to Catonsville. I imagine that's still happening today.

So, I buy a case of wine for my friend who lives in DC. It's shipped to his house. Heck, what am I thinking? He's a really good friend. I buy four cases. Good stuff. He takes delivery. He tries a bottle from each case. Says he doesn't care for them. Asks will I please come and get the rest and take it home and drink it.
Surely that can't be illegal.

Surely that can't be illegal.

John, you're confusing "can't be illegal" with "shouldn't be illegal".

I drank wine when I was a teenager. Boones Farm!

Joyce, I hate to break it to you, but that wasn't wine.

Let's hope our noble protectors don't get wind of
" rel="nofollow">the NYC restaurant salt ban.

jl, I think this it what you were going for:

"Let's hope our noble protectors don't get wind of the NYC restaurant salt ban."

conscience-tortured lawmakers

I do love oxymorons.

Although "tortured lawmakers" doesn't sound so bad...

Most Relevant Captcha Ever?: the nepotism

I think it sucks that we can't get wine shipped to us. I have a couple of favorite wines from NY and VA that I can't get unless I go there. When I was underage we drank really cheap vodka not wine. I think that after 25 years in public service you should have to retire so we could get new blood in there.

Sean, thanks. that's it.
I see it made a post of its richly deserved own.


I just screwed up a link a few posts ago... but it came across anyway.

Free State. The nickname "Free State" was created by Hamilton Owens, editor of the Baltimore Sun. In 1923, Georgia Congressman William D. Upshaw, a firm supporter of Prohibition, denounced Maryland as a traitor to the Union for refusing to pass a State enforcement act. Mr. Owens thereupon wrote a mock-serious editorial entitled "The Maryland Free State," arguing that Maryland should secede from the Union rather than prohibit the sale of liquor. The irony in the editorial was subtle, and Mr. Owens decided not to print it. He popularized the nickname, however, in later editorials

I just want to be clear. Are some people accusing politicians of using faux morality in order to preserve wealth and power of the status quo? Say it ain't so.

If you brought all 4 cases at once, yes, that is illegal. However, current law allows a certain amount of ounces to be brought over the state line that hasn't been taxed (the key word here) by the appropriate Maryland State authority. Though, I don't recall if that is on a per month or per annum basis.

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected