Wine is wonderful.

March 26, 2009

I grew up in suburban Chicago. Grocery stores had liquor sections, which always had that seedy sort of look…I remember being taken inside in a cart. It was dark, kinda shady, but now it feels like a dream. Sure, moving to Tennessee was a HUGE culture shock…I still stare blankly at anyone who utters the word “pocketbook” in my presence. Now that I am 21, I can really notice things things…what is up with the weird liquor laws in the state of Tennessee?
Beer is in grocery stores. Beer is not in liquor stores. Wine cannot be shipped to your house. It’s a misdemeanor to go get that wine from a North Georgia winery. I get carded for beer, yet I don’t get carded for wine…and I look like I’m 17. SO THANK GOD SOMEONE IS TRYING TO CHANGE THIS CHAOS.
I love the people over at Red White and Food, a group working to get grocery store wine sales in the state of Tennessee. I love them even more after I won a best tweet contest. Seriously guys, seriously…why not wine? Sadly it all comes down to what can only be described as a lack of logic…it is the liquor stores who are against it, and of course the religious folk….and the very odd people elected to represent us commonfolk.
Let’s begin with the liquor stores. They may not be an exact a monopoly in an economic sense as they are not producing anything, but they sure have it down quite well…they do not want competition. Competing with other liquor stores? That’s fine. But OH MY GOD GROCERY STORES? Get out your flawed logic, men! (A lot of the following comes from the Red White and Food twitter updates from the House State & Local Committee meeting on Tuesday.)
First off there’s that whole monopoly thing, right? Competition is a beautiful thing, especially when, you know, it becomes $27 million for the state.
So what have we heard about from them…oh, job loss. Because a grocery store having a half aisle of wine is really going to have that effect. Right to the south in Georgia, they sell wine in grocery stores. People still go to liquor stores. It’s not like people ONLY go to liquor stores for wine…Not sure if they’ve checked to see that they have shelves of oh…maybe liquor?
“Wine is not food.” Well, toilet paper isn’t food. Condoms aren’t food. Magazines aren’t food. Yet I see all these things in the grocery store. (I’ve just given them a new thing to not be allowed in grocery stores, haven’t I?)
“It’s going to increase underage drinking.” OH PLEASE. There’s already a law in place that gets everybody carded in the grocery store for buying beer. The first time I ever bought a bottle of wine, I wasn’t even carded.
“Everyone will be a drunk.” …wait, a LIQUOR store owner saying everyone will be DRUNK? You know…a bottle of vodka is more potent than a bottle of wine…and you’re the one with the vodka…just sayin’…Oh, and we’ll all be driving, obviously. As soon as this law passes, I’m getting a wine cork installed in my dashboard.
Then, there’s the Baptists. You know the Catholics are all for this, that goes unsaid.
Now, this is actually a direct quote off twitter from a Tennessee Baptist Convention EXEC. BOARD PRESIDENT…are you ready….
“Jesus said we should love our neighbors; sometimes that requires inconvenience.” Jesus drank wine. He also turned some water into wine. Now that’s convenience, so I find you really hard to believe. And I’m finding it hard to figure out why I can’t love my neighbors if I’d like a glass of wine.
I strongly dislike trying to use religious logic in the discussion of a law, but whatever. It’s not like it’s ever something sensible, so I try to ignore it, but damn. What the hell was that?
Then, finally…there’s the wonderful people elected to make our laws.
About a month ago, I emailed my state senator, one Bo Watson, and my state rep, one Gerald McCormick, on the bill. Funny, I never heard back from either. I got an email AND a later update from Bob Corker regarding the auto industry bailouts, yet two state legislators can’t get back to me. I’m not expecting to see them supporting it, but what really scares me…are the ones who seem to figure they’re going to vote on this bill in their own interest, rather than the interest of those they represent. I personally don’t care if you don’t like drinking, whether it’s for religious reasons, or just because you plan on avoiding cancer in whatever way possible, but what I do does not involve you, especially when you are an elected official meant to vote for things based on the interests of those who voted for you.

I do like wine. Publix is closer to me than a liquor store, plus maybe I need to pick a couple things up from there (their ice cream). If I know what I want, I’ll find it there. If I want some assistance in selecting something, or I want something Publix doesn’t have, obviously I would go to a liquor store. To me it’s not just about convenience. It’s also about the awkward factor of walking into the liquor store, because like I said, I don’t look 21, so there’s this almost immediate glaring that the owners give me. (I went looking for a car when I was 19 and a salesman asked if it was my 16th birthday.) If, as a survey said, 62% of us want wine in the grocery stores, and yet this law doesn’t pass, I have a serious problem with Tennessee’s idea of democracy. (Though Georgia isn’t much better…what is up with no beer sales on Sunday? My logic is that to watch NASCAR you need beer…and NASCAR races are on Sundays so….what is the deal?) So here’s to a change in prehistoric liquor laws that I hope to celebrate this year with a bottle of my favorite, amazing, yet only $10 champagne! Cheers!