The Baltimore Business Journal came out with an article about the upcoming corkage debate (“MD Wine Connoisseurs Want Another Pop at Repealing Corkage Law,” October 28) last Friday. The article profiled Cristin Dadant, co-owner of Clementine Restaurant, who asked the rhetorical question, “Why tie my hands even more to make my business accessible to people?”
This morning, their editorial board came out supporting a repeal of this discriminatory law. To quote from their opinion entitled “Time to Uncork Maryland’s BYOB Restriction on Restaurants,” a corkage prohibition “hinders those growing smaller restaurants with intriguing menus and little room for a big cellar. The current law limits enterprising restaurants (our emphasis). We’re not talking about a dramatic shift in the way people would wine and dine. Most people eat out because they want to buy food and drink. But it would be great to give patrons and restaurateurs the option many customers in other great restaurant cities enjoy.”
Virginia has historically been ahead of Maryland when it comes to wine: more wineries, more developed support of wine tourism industry, passage of corkage, etc. The enterprising Virginia wineries realized that corkage was actually a boon to them because so few restaurants carried substantial Virginia offerings. As a result, a few of the winery owners are listing restaurants within driving distance of their establishments who allow corkage, suggesting people taste then purchase a bottle for dinner. For other wineries with wine clubs, the wineries credit 50% of up to $10 of their members’ corkage fees as long as they bring their receipt to the winery. We can only hope to be seeing some of the same in Maryland in 2012…
Direct Wine Shipping Update
As many of you were licking your lips thinking about shipping your favorite wine to your Maryland home, you probably didn’t realize how diverse your neighbors’ palettes were. There have been a number of really interesting wineries to sign up for Maryland’s permits, not surprising given that there are now over 500 (wow!) permit holders. Here are some interesting highlights:
Florida Orange Groves Winery (wine from the Sunshine State)
“Finally! Wines That Taste Good” is their apt motto. They make wine from a wide variety of ingredients including blueberry, carrot and key lime.
Crushpad (custom crush facility)
Crushpad provides grapes, a wine making team and a winery where you can make your own wine in small lots. Interestingly, one of our members came to testify in Annapolis that he had made his own barrel of wine while working in California but could not legally bring the wine into Maryland because of the prohibition on shipping. Now he can!
Hagafen Cellars (Kosher CA wine)
Hagafen Cellars has been producing kosher wines from Napa Valley since 1979, one of the few kosher wineries in the US.
The Maryland General Assembly requires a fiscal note for any piece of legislation, and their venerable research staff must issue hundreds of them in any session. We found the fiscal note for the direct wine shipping bill to be wanting, largely because it did not include the sales tax revenue that legalizing direct wine shipping would generate; rather, it focused only on the number of permits to be issued. The fiscal note estimated that Maryland would issue 302 permits in FY2012, generating $60,200 in additional permit revenue. We are pleased to report that the Comptroller has collected over $100,000 due to the substantial number of wineries signing up for Maryland’s permit. The final sales tax numbers are not yet in for the previous quarter, but we can’t wait to report how much additional sales tax revenue the direct wine shipper’s permit generates for our beleaguered state budget.
‘You Are Not So Smart’: Why We Can’t Tell Good Wine From Bad
Auther David McRaney reveals something you probably already suspected yourself in his recent book You Are Not So Smart: we can be fooled by our expectations of how good a wine can be. Try his experiment on your own: buy three bottles of the same type of wine (chardonnay, pinot noir, etc.), wrap them in foil, and label them A,B and C. Invite a few friends over and ask them without discussing with one another to write down the most to least expensive wines based upon taste. McRaney points out that we are terrible judges of character and will inevitably fail. What is most interesting, however, is that professional wine tasters also do too! He describes an experiment where white wine was dyed red and tasters were offered a glass of the white as well as the “red” wine and asked to describe them. Not surprisingly, the tasters “described the sorts of berries and grapes and tannins they could detect in the red wine just as if it really was red.”
Please be in touch if you have some available time to help our organization. Thanks for your interest!
Marylanders for Better Beer & Wine Laws
4315 Underwood Road
Baltimore, MD 21218
Tel: (443) 570-8102