We have some good news, and then we have some bad news. A new survey released by the American Wine Consumer Coalition—a self-described “advocacy group that works to advance the interests of America’s wine consumers”—issued a report card for all 50 states and the District, assessing which are the friendliest to wine drinkers. The Washington area ranked amongst the best—and worst—in the country.
The study focused on access to wine and the ability to choose from a wide selection. Criteria included the ability to purchase wine in grocery stores, whether cases could be shipped from retailers and wineries, state control of wine sales, blue laws, and BYOB policies in restaurants. The worst place to be an oenophile is (surprise!) Utah, where the state governs wine sales and bans shipment of bottles, sales in grocery stores, and purchases on Sundays. On the flipside, Virginians and District-dwellers are tied for first place in the nation (take that, Californians). Both DC—“the promised land for wine lovers,” according to the study—and Virginia allow the most access and choice when it comes to purchasing and consuming vino. The study credits open shipping from wineries and retail outlets, the ability to bring bottles to and from restaurants, and sales on Sundays (unless, of course, you’re shopping at one of DC’s liquor stores that still follow blue laws). Cheers!
Now for the bad news. Maryland ranked in a far lower bracket, receiving a D+ grade. While Bethesdans can bring wine to their restaurant of choice, they can’t pick up a bottle at the grocery store to pair with dinner or receive a case in the mail. As the study notes: “These prohibitions make for serious consumer inconvenience as well as a severe lack of selection, particularly of imported wines and rare wines.” Chin up, Marylanders—you still have it easier than wine drinkers in Utah.