Just once, I’d like to hear an honest to goodness principled argument by those who would advocate wine consumers be limited in their access to fine wines. Just once.
What would a principled argument for limiting consumer access to fine wine look like?
1. It should be consistent
The argument should be able to make sense no matter where it can be made and no matter who would be making it.
2. It should avoid the taint of NIMBYISM
Too often arguments to limit consumer access to fine wine come down to "I don’t want the competition in my region or my part of the market. This isn’t principled, it is protectionist
3. It should support a broader policy
If you are going to argue that consumers should be limited in their access to fine wine, at least give me a significant and compelling reason why these limits support a more important cause.
In Texas, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is sending out cease and desist orders to RETAILERS across the country that are shipping wine to consumers that have ordered either via telephone or on the Internet. It is in fact illegal for out of state retailers to ship wine to Texas Consumers. This prohibition will end once the Specialty Wine Retailers Association’s lawsuit is heard. After all, why would the state of Texas give out of state wineries and in-state wineries the right to ship to Texas consumers but not allow Retailers out of state to do so? But, as it turns out, in-state retailers are allow to ship wine to consumers. No, this bit of protectionism will eventually fall.
But back to this issue of principled arguments. Witness the argument of this Texas wine retailers who is pissed Texas Consumers can buy wines from out of state retailers:
"Jim Cubberley, manager of local fine wine merchant Lake Travis Wine
Trader, says out-of-state wine retailers have been making sales without
adhering to the same regulations that he must contend with, such as
those that require working through Texas’ three-tier system of wine
importers, wholesalers and retailers. That system adds about 20 percent
more to the cost of his wine, as compared to the products sold by
out-of-state wine shops, he says. "People are able to sidestep the local retailers such as us by
purchasing things that we cannot purchase," he says. "It’s hard to be
competitive with the extra hoop that we have to jump through."
He doesn’t think consumers should be prohibited from having wine shipped to them from retailers. He doesn’t believe wine should only be purchased in a face to face transaction. He’s upset, simply, that consumers have access to a better selection and potentially lower prices than he can offer.
I’d respect his position if it was invested with any principles. But it isn’t.