Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher


Why I hate buying wine in PA

posted by Rod Dreher

I had reason yesterday afternoon to go into our local Soviet Socialist Keystone State Wine Shop — in Pennsylvania, you’ll recall, you can only buy wine and spirits at a state-run store — looking for a bottle of dry Riesling. The store manager whom I’d asked for help (because I don’t know Rieslings) sold me a bottle of sweet wine he insisted was dry. It was undrinkable, and ruined an event I’d planned for last evening. Details of what happened below the jump, if you care to subject yourself to a yuppie whine. But there’s a serious point here about economics and the law. The state’s legal monopoly over the sale of wine creates a situation in which sales clerks don’t have to know jack-squat about the products they sell. There is no competition to make them give better service to the customer. I had a bad experience yesterday that’s going to result in me going back there today to ask for a refund; I’m still steamed over a ruined social event because the manager, whom I’d asked for advice, sold me the wrong wine.
And I am finished shopping there, period. I’ll just drive out of state to buy my wine — you know, to a state where there’s a better selection and it’s reasonable to expect a wine store clerk to know basic facts about the things he sells, because hey, if he doesn’t, and he fails his customers, the market will incentivize him to improve.
I have no way of knowing, but it makes sense to me that Pennsylvania probably sells less wine than it otherwise might — and therefore takes in less revenue — because of this stupid scheme. Who benefits from it? For me, it’s not even about the price; it’s about the service. Details for those who care, after the jump.


So here’s what happened. A friend was coming over to for a drink last evening, and he said he’d like to drink some dry Riesling. I don’t drink much Riesling, so I wasn’t confident in my ability to find a particularly dry one. At least I know that Alsace makes some nice dry Rieslings. I stood over in the small German wine section, looking at the whites. I’ve had Trimbach before, which is pleasant and dry, but I wanted to ask the manager for guidance.
The polite and eager to please man led me out of the German section and over to the American wine section, then pointed out two domestic Rieslings. Huh? Boy, that’s uncharted territory for me. I told him I wanted a rather dry one. I made that crystal clear. He said that the Columbia Winery Cellarmaster’s Riesling was the drier of the two. OK, I guess I’ll take a chance on that.
Opened it last night with my friend and took a sip. It was the sweetest white wine I’ve tasted since the last time I had dessert wine, and the sweetest white non-dessert wine I’ve had since my last bottle of Blue Nun my freshman year of college. I really don’t like sweet wine at all, and this was undrinkable to me. My friend agreed, comparing it to Welch’s grape juice. What does this wine store manager (!) drink if he thinks this is dry? Benadryl? I went to the vineyard’s website to look up this wine, on the chance that as Rieslings go, this might count as dry, or at least semi-dry. What do you think the first two words used by the winery to describe this product are? “Sweet wine.”
I don’t think he had any idea what was in that bottle. I think he was making it up. It confirmed the bias I’d had about this store being a place where you’re completely on your own, because the advice from the clerks is unreliable. And his store being closed by the time we opened it, leaving us high and dry, he ruined my drink with my friend. To be fair to the wine itself, it might have been quite good as sweet Rieslings go. But I wouldn’t know because I really, really don’t like sweet wine. Which is why I asked the manager to sell me a dry one.
I’m going to take the opened bottle back today, with a printout of the page from the winery calling its Riesling “sweet,” and ask for my money back. And after that, I’m done with those people. Not another sou of mine will the State of Pennsylvania get for wine, unless I’ve got a dinner party happening and no time to drive out of state to get wine. I miss being able to walk into a normal wine shop and rely on the clerk to steer me to decent bottles in my price range, like you can in nearly ever other state in the country. It may be unfair to judge the entire Pennsylvania state chain by this one shop, but that’s just tough. I’ve been burned by them now, and I’m not going back. I’d rather drink tap water.
It has been recommended to me by friends here that I head out to Total Wine, just over the Pennsylvania-Delaware border, for all my oenophile needs. You have to be careful and not drive straight back into PA, they say, because the PA police watch Keystone staters sometimes. But there are ways to be sly. I’ve Googlemapped a route, and it’s less than 40 minutes from my front door. I’m headed there at the first opportunity. Come and get me, coppers.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(102)
post a comment
RP

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:25 am


Drive to Jersey where it’ll still be cheaper even after gas and bridge tolls and you’ll get what you want.



report abuse
 

Casey

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:26 am


Top of the world, Ma!



report abuse
 

John E. - Agn Stoic

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:27 am


Doesn’t this go back to the “Freedom of choice, freedom from choice” question.
It is good to have lots of choices, even in the State Run store, but one should know what one is looking for.



report abuse
 

Hector

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:31 am


Re: I’m going to take the opened bottle back today, with a printout of the page from the winery calling its Riesling “sweet,” and ask for my money back.
I’d imagine you will get your money back, at least if the clerk remembers you.
And while I don’t want to minimize the fact your evening was spoiled, remember that these laws did come into place for a good reason. Alcohol is a risky product with enormous potential for abuse, and the abuse of it can lead to immense social problems- crime, poverty, domestic abuse, ruined lives. It’s responsible for far more damage to individuals and to societies than any illegal drug. If having a state monopoly, and making it inconvenient to buy alcohol, results in even a few less people abusing alcohol or becoming alcoholics, then I would say that it’s worth making the lives of social drinkers, like me and you, somewhat more inconvenient. Alcohol isn’t inherently immoral, nor should it be illegal, but it should be very heavily regulated.
Off topic, but I can pretty much _only_ drink super-sweet wine (and generally prefer the wines made from things other than grapes- I’m lucky to be living in a major fruit growing region of the country right now). The tastiest wine I ever drank was a homemade orange wine in Central America- very, very sweet. I have the alcohol tastes of a high schooler- which is funny considering I never drank in high school…:)



report abuse
 

Hector

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:32 am


Re: And while I don’t want to minimize the fact your evening was spoiled, remember that these laws did come into place for a good reason
hell, even Prohibition and the Protestant Temperance Movement, while I disagree with both of them, were understandable reactions to the massive rise in alcoholism during the 19th century.



report abuse
 

Dennis

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:47 am


Today’s PennLive media notes (see link) several PA state alcohol employees employees traveling during state travel ban -to Italy for “wine education.”
Maybe the gent that helped you should have gone to Germany ;)
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/02/with_travel_ban_in_place_81_pe.html



report abuse
 

the stupid Chris

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:50 am


You think that’s bad, try buying wine in Utah!



report abuse
 

Brian

posted February 28, 2010 at 10:55 am


I’m not from Pennsylvania, but being from a southern state, I would imagine that the same people insisting that the state control the sell of alcohol are the same people calling for less government.



report abuse
 

RDF

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:00 am


I feel your pain. . . I am doing a temporary work assignment in Utah, where the state laws about alcohol are similarly absurd. In Portland where I normally live, most grocery stores have incredible wine selections with a knowledgeable sommelier on staff (cue classical music playing in the background). In Utah, the ambiance in the state run liquor store makes me feel like I’m about to score some meth in a trailer park (cue toothless guy with a half pint of ‘Hot Damn’ waiting to check out). The staff have no knowledge about the products they are selling. . . what’s the point to innovate or compete when you have a government sanctioned monopoly?
If government has so little to do that they feel the need to micromanage the sale of adult beverages, maybe they should start cutting taxes and scaling back their reach. . .



report abuse
 

PeterK

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:04 am


“understandable reactions to the massive rise in alcoholism during the 19th century. ”
do you have substantive proof supporting your statement? or just propaganda from the WCTU?
Prohibition and the anti-alcohol folks are just like those today who are pushing the discredited climate change religion. prohibition is just one more piece of the progressive platform. Progressive’s believe in the nanny state.
I live in Virginia has state-owned liquor stores. Fortunately beer and wine is sold in non-government stores. Everytime I go back to Texas I marvel at the wide selection offered in the liquor stores.
our current Governor – Bob McDonnell – has talked of privatizing the state stores. Huzzah! may it come true.



report abuse
 

H

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:06 am


I would recommend checking out Joe Canals on route one near Princeton. It’s not too far from Philly (I’d say about 40 minutes), and they have a massive ( I mean massive) collection of wine there at good value, and a knowledgeable staff. While there, come swing by Princeton Theological Seminary and pay us a visit.



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:07 am


Hector, first of all, why you hectoring the guy? Rod’s bummed and has a legitimate beef and you hit him over the head with the temperance mallet.
And Re: “…remember that these laws did come into place for a good reason.”
Right, like the “temporary” 18% tax on alcohol that Rod has to shell out to repair the damage of the Johnstown Flood of 1936.
There are also good reasons to change bad laws.
Sheesh…



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:12 am


Hector: And while I don’t want to minimize the fact your evening was spoiled, remember that these laws did come into place for a good reason. Alcohol is a risky product with enormous potential for abuse, and the abuse of it can lead to immense social problems- crime, poverty, domestic abuse, ruined lives.
Couple of things, Hector. First, as far as I can tell there’s no serious inconvenience in buying wine here in Philly. I pass within a stone’s throw of two of these state stores in my daily routine. And the stores all keep convenient hours. If one were a drunk who depended on regular infusions of Cabernet to stay buzzed, there wouldn’t be any serious obstacle to getting it.
But how many drunks care to spend $20 or more for a bottle of good wine? If you don’t care what you drink, as long as it’s cheap and alcoholic, the state store’s got you covered. The people who suffer are those who really like to drink wine for the taste and experience, and who have to deal with a restricted selection and poor customer service. No serious wine drinker imbibes to get drunk (similarly with the idiotic beer laws in PA, which force you to buy beer a case at a time; it serves the interest of people who like to drink beer in quantity, for the buzz, while penalizing those of us who drink beer for the taste, and who therefore gravitate to more expensive beers, which we buy in much small er quantities).
Maybe this is hard for you to understand because, by your admission, you don’t really drink wine, except super-sweet stuff. Wine is far, far more than an alcohol delivery platform. Those who see it only as that have little to complain about from the state store system. People like me, who are punished by this system, are not the folks you have to worry about abusing the stuff and causing problems.



report abuse
 

Franklin Evans

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:16 am


Click on WINE REGION, then PHILADELPHIA COUNTRYSIDE, to see the wineries closest to us marked and listed.
The only one with which I’m personally acquainted is Chaddsford Winery. It’s on US 1 in the Brandywine Valley, a nice place to visit for the battlefield national park and Longwood Gardens, so you could combine a trip.
They’ll all expertly offer you choices, I’d bet. ;-)



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:43 am


Brian: I’m not from Pennsylvania, but being from a southern state, I would imagine that the same people insisting that the state control the sell of alcohol are the same people calling for less government. I doubt that, not here. From what I can tell, this really isn’t a socially conservative state, at least not in the sense that Southern states are. In Texas, anti-alcohol sentiment doesn’t amount to much in public life, but you can at least sense it somewhat (they do have “dry” areas, and I support the right for small localities to vote on that sort of thing, as a principle of localism; in most cases I would vote against dry status, but there are poor parts of town that suffer from liquor stores on every corner, and if I lived there I would probably vote to go dry, and just drive 10 minutes to the wet part of town to buy my beer and wine). Anyway, as this four-part story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette points out, the status quo is a huge revenue generator for the state government. Given the precarious current state of PA’s finances, there is no chance they’re going to repeal this anytime soon.
That’s really a great piece of explanatory journalism. It says that (contrary to my impression as a PA newbie), yes, there are socially conservative elements in the state that support this kind of thing. But it’s also a racket that protects unionized staffers at these stores — they make twice what their private sector counterparts in other states make, and have generous benefits — who are difficult to fire for underperformance because they have civil service protection. And influential politicians are benefiting from the government monopoly status quo as well, according to the story. There’s this great quote from a PA wine collector, pointing out the absurdity of the situation: “If you were a collector of wines and a collector of guns, it would be much easier to buy guns than it is to buy wine.” I suspect that there might not be a sustained outcry against the ridiculous liquor laws in PA from PA citizens because they’re used to this. They may not really understand how their state government is ripping them off, and how much better things would be for them if free enterprise were allowed to work in PA.
It’s not much of an inconvenience for me, living in Philly, to drive to Jersey or Delaware to buy wine. But for folks who live in the middle of the state, that’s a real hassle.



report abuse
 

Barnaby Jones

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:56 am


Total Wine is an excellent place to buy wine, and while they don’t have the best beer selection, they do, in general, have a good beer selection and at cheaper prices than other local stores. Plus, if you’re going to the DE store, there’s no tax.
If you’re up for trying a couple flavorful, more expensive beers, here are a couple:
– Samichlaus – it’s past Christmas, but it’s still winter, and this is a great, strong sipping beer. Four packs (and maybe singles)
– Victory Hop Devil – excellent local IPA. Lots of hops, but has enough malts to give it a better body and more balance.
– Victory Golden Monkey – Belgian style (but departs a bit from the style) brewed in PA. Six packs. Like most tripel style ales, a bit sweet with banana and some hay notes.
– Nogne O Imperial Stout – fantastic Imperial Stout, but a bit expensive. Also just for sipping. Comes in singles, if they have it. Go for Old Rasputin if they don’t have this. Have some for dessert and pair with some good dark chocolate for heaven.
– North Coast Old Stock Ale – CA brewery. Excellent strong ale. Caramel and molasses flavors, balanced by enough hop bitterness to prevent it from tasting sweet.
As for PA’s liquor laws, I’ll basically agree with Rod on this. Having lived in PA, I can say that those liquor laws do not, in any way, prevent or even inconvenience people from obtaining alcohol if their entire objective is to buy cheap booze. State stores are all over Philly, and it’s easy to go get a box of wine or some Carlo Rossi. The people who buy for taste (who, I would think are, in general, the more responsible customers) are they ones most inconvenienced by the system.
Oh, and just as a last point, there’s a reason Total Wine has two stores right across state borders. One in NJ across the bridge on the East, and one in DE to the south. Both pretty much as close to Philly as possible.



report abuse
 

Russ

posted February 28, 2010 at 12:09 pm


Pennsy alcohol laws are wack in the beer department, too. In Pennsylvania, if you want beer, you better be thirsty, since the law requires it can only sold by the case. If you want less, you have to go to a bar.
At least you can get good fireworks in PA… but only if you’re from out of state. Wack.



report abuse
 

Richard

posted February 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm


Well Rod, I see you answered your own question! The status quo is indeed a big revenue item, and it is also a great way for politicians to place their cronies in places on the PLCB. Lots of nice high salaries, generous benefits, and it is truly a bi-partisan boondoggle, if you will.
Total Wine is great, you might also like to try State Line Liquors just over the DE border in Cecil County, MD.



report abuse
 

Franklin Evans

posted February 28, 2010 at 12:33 pm


Clarification for Russ: It’s the license, not the location. There are plenty of small grocery stores, convenience stores, pizza shops and such like that sell beer by the six-pack or individual bottle or can. I suggest a more common-sensical perspective on cases, since distributors have a large price advantage over retail stores, it should not surprise anyone that distributors are not allowed to sell less than a case in a single quantity.



report abuse
 

Rrfwineguy

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:02 pm


PA wineries have a very good selection of excellent wines, including alsatian (dry reislings). You would not know it though, as the PALCB monolpy views the state wineries as competitors. When was the last time anyone saw or read about the PALCB promoting PA wineries? How about in any resturants have you seen PA winery products? All resturants must purchase thier wines from the State. PA wineries have won awards all over the US, including California. Even in Europe.
At least in a PA winery you can taste before you buy and know exactly what you have when you take home to entertain.
With over 200 PA wineries in the State, please consider the alternative to the State Store.



report abuse
 

Peter

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm


People like me, who are punished by this system, are not the folks you have to worry about abusing the stuff and causing problems.
Because there are no acoholics with expensive, SWPL taste.
You aren’t being “punished,” you are being inconvenienced. It’s an important distinction in understanding the economics of it. You still have broad selection and a little planning before can help you make good choices. What you are missing is the service you expect with your $25 bottle of wine.
To get that service, you are prepared to drive forty minutes and break state law because you have certain expectations of how the kind of customer service you deserve. That’s an economic (and moral) decision, but it may not be the driving economic decision for everyone.
The manager steered you wrong, although his instincts were correct. New World Rieslings tend to be drier than German Rieslings. New Zealand and Washington State Reislings are a safe bet for someone who doesn’t know what they want, but say they want a dry one. He just lead you astry.



report abuse
 

aaron

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm


I never new Riesling’s came dry, I’ve always thought them to be sweet, yet crisp with little lingering aftertaste



report abuse
 

brian

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:43 pm


In Pittsburgh, there are several regional wineries that have their own shops in the city. I would be surprised if such shops don’t exist in cosmopolitan Philly.



report abuse
 

Mac S.

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:48 pm


I suspect that there might not be a sustained outcry against the ridiculous liquor laws in PA from PA citizens because they’re used to this. They may not really understand how their state government is ripping them off…
I agree in part. I find that the on the ground the PR battle paints the “wine snobs” versus the “just regular Joes” (of both parties) who work in the stores and would lose out if they were privatized. I have found, informally, that Pittsburgh has a rather strong sympathetic pro-union vibe perhaps because of the history. That said, not one person I know, native or newbie, LIKES the state store system. Still, even in the Pittsburgh newspaper poll, it was a close vote (56%) for privatization.
The rules have nothing to do with controlling access to alcohol (Hector) it is all about filling the state’s coffers – see Johnstown Flood tax that still lives. The stores have a plentiful selection of cheap booze.
I am glad that you plan to get your money back. This is exactly why I do my own research and hope for the best – I do not trust the knowledge of the staff. I’d love to hear how the conversation went.



report abuse
 

MJ

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:49 pm


I too live in PA and hate this system, especially for beer. I am an extremely moderate drinker, and it would take me the better part of a year to drink that much beer. Not to mention I would die of embarrassment if someone saw me buying it.
What Rod should have said he misses is Louisiana, where even the drug stores sell their own brand of vodka!



report abuse
 

Quit your whining!

posted February 28, 2010 at 1:57 pm


Let me get this straight. It is the clerk’s fault that you don’t know what you are doing? How about a little research before you buy? Or even after you buy but before you open the wine. You could have then bought the right kind before the stores closed.
How about hedging your bet and buying a second, different bottle of wine.
You got free advice. It was worth exactly what you paid for it.
You are are entitled to a refund of the cost of the advice, not the cost of the wine.
We gain knowledge and experience through our choices. Hopefully you learned a valuable lesson here. And it only cost the price of a bottle of wine and some private humiliation.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:16 pm


Let me get this straight. It is the clerk’s fault that you don’t know what you are doing? How about a little research before you buy? Or even after you buy but before you open the wine. You could have then bought the right kind before the stores closed. How about hedging your bet and buying a second, different bottle of wine.
What a ridiculous position. Yes, of course it is the clerk’s fault, 100 percent. It is his job to help customers with their purchases. His salary comes out of the price of the product. I told him that I didn’t know enough about a particular product to make an intelligent decision, and I asked his help. It is entirely reasonable to expect him to help me find what I asked for. It is entirely unreasonable to expect that a customer should purchase a second bottle of wine in case the clerk whose job it is to help the customer find what he wants fails to do his job. It is even sillier to expect that a customer should bring his wine purchase home then go research on the Internet in case he didn’t get what he paid for, and was assured by the clerk fulfilled his request.
Do you shop anywhere else that way? If you went to the market and asked for chicken pot pie, but was given pork pie instead, while being assured by the grocer that it was indeed chicken pie, and you didn’t find out till you got home, would you agree that the fault was your own? Of course not. Anyway, I did learn a lesson: not to shop at the wine stores of the state of Pennsylvania. I would not shop at any store where I could not rely on the guidance of the proprietor when making my selection. Unfortunately for wine drinkers in Pennsylvania, the state monopoly gives you no choice.



report abuse
 

Jon

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm


While I agree that PA alcohol laws sound inane, I wonder at a bottle of wine spoiling a social event (assuming it’s not outright poisined). Shouldn’t a social event be centered on comraderie with guests, with the food and drink being secondary?



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm


Peter: Because there are no acoholics with expensive, SWPL taste.
Must you reduce everything to cultural politics? Do you think that only white people drink wine? Perhaps you yourself hate wine drinkers, and think of them as cultural elitists, which is your problem, not mine. I get the impression that you are happy to see wine drinkers get a pie in the face, so to speak, because of their supposed elite status. Some elite I am: the bottle of wine I got rooked on cost $15. I almost never spend more than $30 for a bottle of wine. But so what if I did? The principle of commerce at issue here is the same whatever the product.
You aren’t being “punished,” you are being inconvenienced. It’s an important distinction in understanding the economics of it. You still have broad selection and a little planning before can help you make good choices. What you are missing is the service you expect with your $25 bottle of wine.
Punished, inconvenienced, whatever. The impact is punitive to wine drinkers. The selection is not broad, compared to what even a modest privately owned wine store in other states can offer. It’s far better than most supermarkets, but is that really anything to brag about when it’s the only choice Pennsylvania wine drinkers are given? And too for spirits: if you want anything slightly off the beaten path, good luck. Anyway, why should I have to plan before going to a wine store? Why should you have to strategize before making a purchase? Sometimes I do that, but I’ve simply never had the experience of having to buy wine from a shop where the clerks weren’t educated enough in the product they sell to help me make a good decision. There have been times when I have not been as excited by the wine I’ve brought home on a clerk’s advice than the clerk was, but clerks have always come close to the mark on what I told them I wanted.
Some people who shop for wine are well-educated in wine, and can navigate the aisles well, without assistance. I’m not that person. It seems to me that you think people who don’t know as much as they would like to about a product should be satisfied with poor service from the people who are paid to know about that product. Would you feel that way if the product were something that working class people bought? Or are you indulging in reverse snobbery, on the theory that wine is something a certain sort of white person drinks, so they deserve whatever they get?
To get that service, you are prepared to drive forty minutes and break state law because you have certain expectations of how the kind of customer service you deserve.
Yes. It is a waste of money to keep buying wine at my local wine shop, because I have not had good experience there. I have in my refrigerator right now that bottle of sweet Riesling, minus a half glass, which I cannot drink because it tastes like candy. I also have a bottle of South African plonk I purchased there, minus one glass, which is undrinkable. To be honest, and to be fair, I did not ask for the clerk’s advice before picking up that South African bottle, but I’ve had good luck with South African reds before, so I thought I’d take a chance. Besides, there was no clerk around at the time, and I didn’t think I could trust their advice anyway. So I’m out $30 and two trips to the wine store, for crap wine. Maybe on my third trip later today, I’ll get half that back when I return the Riesling. If these shops had to compete with private business, they would die on the vine, because people would stop going to places where they couldn’t rely on the advice of the manager and clerks. The folks who staff our neighborhood place are state employees. They get paid no matter how they treat their customers. Where’s the incentive for them to offer better service? Why should people have to put up with this?



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Shouldn’t a social event be centered on comraderie with guests, with the food and drink being secondary?
The occasion was centered around sharing a bottle of wine together, just the two of us. When we found the bottle undrinkable, I had no other wine to offer my guest. We called it a night, and decided to get together for wine some other time.



report abuse
 

EHH

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm


“Incentivize”? Rod, please, let’s try to maintain some standards here. Anyone who uses such word deserves wretched sweet Riesling.



report abuse
 

JayR

posted February 28, 2010 at 2:59 pm


Rod,
I sympathize with you, as I hate these laws as well, although my wrath is more focussed on the residual blue laws that still exist. (Really, why should I not be able to buy a bottle of wine at 11am on Sunday with the rest of my shopping? It’s not *my* Sabbath.)
But I wonder. How does this jibe with the rest of your opinions of modernity. Aren’t you really advocating the empowerment of the individual at the expense of the traditional authorities? Modernity for me but not for thee?



report abuse
 

The Sicilian Woman

posted February 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm


Sheesh, the flak you’re getting.
You should come to California, Rod. Coming from New York, where markets and convenience stores can sell only beer, I was surprised to find that markets, warehouse stores, just about any place that wants to sell alcohol can sell beer, wine and spirits. The markets, to my wine-challenged self, seem to have large selections of all three, though I haven’t found a market that staffs anyone in those sections to assist customers with selections.
Plus, California still has dedicated liquor stores. Even in my dinky, isolated area (2 hours from a major city), we have one.
As you dislike sweet wines, they are the only wines that I will drink. (Anything alcoholic that I drink must be sweet, though there are some things I won’t touch, such as port. But those Jewish wines, made from Concord grapes? Heaven.) A friend bought me a bottle of Oregon-grown riesling from her travels there a few years ago. I was a bit surprised, since I rarely drink, but I thanked her graciously. The bottle sat in my cabinet for about a year. When I finally decided to open it up one night, I could have finished the bottle entirely then, it was so wonderful.
Likewise, the wine tasting that I attended several months ago on the invitation of a friend was pretty much wasted on me. I was looking forward to it to see if I would like anything, or be able to pick out aromas and flavors. “No” on both. There were several red wines chosen by a sommelier that evening. To me, they all smelled the same, no differece in bouquet, and they all tasted the same, only a matter of my disliking one or the other more. These were bottles that you probably would have been swooning over. One attendee asked how much they would cost retail, and the sommelier said $65+, and $300+ in a restaurant.
Thanks for the link to the bottle you bought. I’ll have to try that one sometime.
Good luck with getting your money back. You didn’t get what you paid for on a recommendation, so there shouldn’t be an issue. Let us know how it worked out.



report abuse
 

Heather

posted February 28, 2010 at 3:22 pm


Actually you CAN buy wine at local wineries and their outlets in PA. May not be a famous label but probably good all the same.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted February 28, 2010 at 4:30 pm


Recommended for dry Rieslings (and many other “non-industrial,” wines from artisan vintners):
Moore Brothers Wine Company (Pennsauken, NJ; Wilmington, DE; Manhattan)
http://moorebrothers.com/



report abuse
 

Mike

posted February 28, 2010 at 4:39 pm


“You have to be careful and not drive straight back into PA, they say, because the PA police watch Keystone staters sometimes.”
You mean to say you can be arrested for buying wine in a different place if you choose to? And this is constitutional how?



report abuse
 

Badger

posted February 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm


US Constitution
Amendment 21
Section 2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.



report abuse
 

Mac S.

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:00 pm


As a resident of PA I have to chime in that Rod is NOT making a mountain out of a molehill expecting reasonably accurate assistance from a store clerk.
The customer service of the state store employees has had such a heinous reputation that a couple years back the PA Liquor Control Board (LCB) had to hire a firm to train them in politeness (as in saying “hello” or “thank you” and making eye contact). Of course this being PA, they gave the contract to a spouse of one of the top tier LCB employees.
Since there is no competition, you cannot take your business elsewhere. Nor can you order from a winery OUT of state because of the law against that too. I had hoped former Gov Ridge (R) would change this but even he backed off due to the massive amount of revenue.
Again, it isn’t really about morality. I now have more casinos to choose from within 160 miles than I thought possible.
Mike – you can be fined for bringing in out of state (non taxed) liquor.



report abuse
 

huh

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:04 pm


Generally when I’m looking for a dry riesling, I look for the words “dry riesling” on the label.



report abuse
 

Indy

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm


Are you sure the clerks get paid the same no matter how they treat their customer? I’ve never worked in that type of job, but maybe others reading the blog have worked for PA or other states. Is it true that performance doesn’t matter, customer feedback is irrelevant, and people keep their jobs regardless of how they perform and nobody ever is demoted, reassigned, or fired? That’s hard to believe.
I wonder whether this really is a state run versus private run issue. I bought some booze a couple of times in a state run store in another state and found the clerk as helpful as in any other store. And I’ve been in stores in the private sector where clerks were unable to offer me good advice on what I wanted to buy. Maybe they were new on the job, quite likely they didn’t last that long if they didn’t get up to speed quickly, but the point is that they weren’t able to assist me very well when I asked about products. Longevity and built-up expertise seem to matter more in these things than whether the state or a private owner employs them. Based on the few times I’ve been in states with state run liquor stores and have done ok, I wouldn’t rule out there being helpful and knowledgeable clerks in state run stores. Based on so few experiences in a couple of stores, I wouldn’t generalize that they are good any more than I think anyone can generalize they stink. Could be that I just was unusually lucky in the couple of instances in which I had to use state run stores. Neither time was in PA.
From what I’ve read in the business press, very often the opposition to closing state liquor stores comes from Baptist associations and such like. Revenues are going to be a big problem for a lot of states for some time to come. It doesn’t look as if the residential real estate market is going to recover any time soon and it looks as if hard times still are ahead for commercial real estate. A lot of governors are going to have to make some really tough budget choices, I think education, libraries, services for seniors, and such like are going to take a hit in a lot of localities. Tough times ahead.



report abuse
 

Indy

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:17 pm


When I say opposition to closing, I mean through privatization, of course.



report abuse
 

Hank

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:21 pm


The state runs the liquor stores? What kind of hack-job guvment you runnin’ down there? Don’t they know if they’re going to run a vice it oughta be a horse track? Politicians know manure better than they know Riesling.



report abuse
 

Peter

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:27 pm


Perhaps you yourself hate wine drinkers, and think of them as cultural elitists, which is your problem, not mine. I get the impression that you are happy to see wine drinkers get a pie in the face, so to speak, because of their supposed elite status.
I love wine drinkers. I am a wine drinker. I often pay more than $30 for a bottle of wine. I would so some research before buying a wine I wasn’t familiar with.
But your rant does have a certain SWPL flavor to it, which you acknowledged by saying it was a yuppie whine. I was just pointing out not all drunks that the state may hypothetically want to monitor are drinking MD20-20 out of a bag on Walnut Street. Some are drinking expensive ports at historic homes on Rittenhouse Square.



report abuse
 

realitycheck

posted February 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm


“The state’s legal monopoly over the sale of wine creates a situation in which sales clerks don’t have to know jack-squat about the products they sell. There is no competition to make them give better service to the customer.”
I live in Ontario Canada where there is also a state (province) run monopoly – the LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). It is the largest buyer of spirits in the world.
But the trouble with your (admittedly sad) story is, it has nothing to do with liquor sales but with poor customer service. The LCBO has the biggest selection of spirits, and very knowledgable, helpful, courteous staff.
Siounds like it’s simply time for more and better training on the part of your spirits supplier.
‘Sides, what’s a good clean-cut Christian boy like you doion’ drinkin’. Ain’t that a sin anymore? (Sure was when and where I grew up ;{O)



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted February 28, 2010 at 6:09 pm


Re: Peter – “I was just pointing out not all drunks that the state may hypothetically want to monitor are drinking MD20-20 out of a bag on Walnut Street. Some are drinking expensive ports at historic homes on Rittenhouse Square.”
That’s their business. What’s it to you? Or the State?
P.S. Rod you can cut this line out, but he’s a Vichy guy for sure…



report abuse
 

Nick

posted February 28, 2010 at 6:23 pm


No offense Rod, and maybe I’m a bit of a snob, but I probably wouldn’t trust the opinion of an employee of a state-run liquor store on rieslings. Just sayin’…you might have been asking for this one.



report abuse
 

Keystone Cop

posted February 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm


Thanks for the heads up wino. We know where you live, how to use Google maps and will be waiting for you near the border. If you knew anything about wine you’d visit any one of our Commonwealth’s fine wineries. Keep the bottle sealed, please.



report abuse
 

lorenzorichards

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm


Government run Healthcare is going to be the same story!



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:19 pm


If your evening is so fragile it can be ruined by the wrong wine, you need to invite better guests. Or else develop a sense of humor.



report abuse
 

brian

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm


Rod, you need to find one of the PLCB “super” stores. There’s one within a few miles of our place, and the difference between it and the average neighborhood state store is night and day. The clerks are actually knowledgeable, and the wine selection is pretty good. For PA.
I’m not defending the PLCB, because the system is pretty silly.



report abuse
 

Erin Manning

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:36 pm


About wines, I know as little as anyone, and tend to prefer the sweet wines that Hector does, on the rare occasions when I decide to risk the migraine and drink anything alcoholic at all. Good wines are wasted on me.
But good yuppie whines, not at all, as I’ve indulged in plenty myself. I’d call this one a little too acid, a bit out of balance, with an intense, rather chewy body redolent of old typewriter-ribbon ink, graphite, and aged smoked cheese, which proceeds to an unfortunately flabby finish with hints of an unusual aroma not unlike what you’d expect from Kelsey Grammer’s “Frasier” footwear. :)
Or, in other words: Good heavens, man. Isn’t on-the-spot researching of dubious wines peddled by quasi-government employees exactly what one’s iPhone is *for*??



report abuse
 

Pat

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm


Well, the crunchy solution is to make your own wine. That’s what my father did. PA is full of wine fodder, from dandelions through elderflowers, elderberries, and every kind of wild fruit.
Maybe PA is doing you a favor by instituting laws that prod you in the direction of locavore self-sufficiency.



report abuse
 

Indy

posted February 28, 2010 at 7:49 pm


Oh Erin, that was too funny! I laughed out loud. I actually have whipped out my phone and researched stuff in stores. And walked away based on the results I saw on the little screen. I’ve always been an Indy researcher. I do sympathize with Rod’s view that if someone purports to know something then you expect good advice. Had I been the clerk, I would have said I didn’t know Rieslings well and left him in the aisle with German wines. Maybe I’m missing something here. Maybe he misunderstood what Rod said or wanted. From Rod’s account, it does sound as if he made himself very clear. I tend to think he just was unlucky in whom he asked but I’m a benefit of the doubt rather than a broad brush condemnation type person generally.
I do think it is too bad Rod’s evening was spoiled, little things can do that sometimes especially when you’re really looking forward to something. The companion obviously was someone he was looking forward to seeing, something like not having the right wine or any good wine could mess that up, I can see that.
Congrats on the great parody, Erin, very funny.



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted February 28, 2010 at 8:28 pm


I don’t get it. Rod had a wrecked piece of cookware and a lousy bottle of wine so he’s bummed. And he does an innocent, understandable rant. I mean it’s his blog.
But the harpies come out of the woodwork accusing him of snobby dissolution simply because he wants to buy his wine in Delaware. The guy deserves a little life-ain’t-fair sympathy, not a bucket of grief or backhanded advice.
Rod, your only solution would be a retreat into solitude with a good book and a good bottle of wine. Shame about the biting irony of that.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted February 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm


If your evening is so fragile it can be ruined by the wrong wine, you need to invite better guests. Or else develop a sense of humor.
The point of the evening was to drink a bottle of wine together and to talk about it. If that’s not your thing, fine by me, that’s your problem. But it is my thing, and it’s puzzling to me why so many of you seem to resent that. I don’t understand people who get together to watch a basketball game, but I do understand camaraderie based on mutual interests, so good on ‘em. Open your minds a little bit, why don’t you?



report abuse
 

The Mighty Favog

posted February 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm


I should know enough to at least have an informed opinion about this little dustup but, alas, I come from a people who let the Mogen David get a little vinegar-ish if it’s a dry wine we want.
In general, though, we’ll drink any damn thing. I guess that makes me the perfect guest when the Socialist Quaker Wine Collective is your only shopping option. ;-)



report abuse
 

Elizabeth Anne

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:13 pm


I think the answer is to be found in the weather report. This winter has been long, and either literally or metaphorically very hard. We’re all a little short tempered, grouchy, and generally sick of each other. Spring will be a beautiful, beautiful thing.
If it every shows.



report abuse
 

Cecelia

posted February 28, 2010 at 11:37 pm


Sounds like it would make some sense – and spare you further aggravation – to take a ride over the bridge and stock up on a couple of bottles so you need never go to one of the state stores. I can attest to the worth of Joe Canals – rte 1 is a pain to drive on – but it is a great wine store – prices not bad either –
Don’t they still have the super stores in PA – they used to be pretty decent with nice staff.
There are a lot of wineries in both PA and right over the border in NJ – usually a nice day trip you could take the kids on too.



report abuse
 

Kirk

posted March 1, 2010 at 12:17 am


Rod, your readers are giving you a hard time about this post because we can’t relate to the underlying problem. You write, “a friend was coming over to for a drink last evening, and he said he’d like to drink some dry Riesling.” Huh? That is something that would never, ever happen to me. It does not compute. I am unable to sympathize with you because I cannot see myself in your situation–even hypothetically. (If anything, it sounds a little gay. Your wife is out of town, and you invite a man-friend over to drink wine? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) While you may not care that I and some of your readers cannot comprehend your predicament, you should: a good writer must create situations that readers can identify with. And if I can’t relate to or identify with Rod Dreher, then why should I care about his opinions? Just sayin’…



report abuse
 

Karl G

posted March 1, 2010 at 12:29 am


First and foremost, you should help pass this link along as well:
https://www.sixpacktogo.org/
Its focus may be beer, but get one brick loose in the wall, and the rest of this crap follow before long.
I second the mention of hitting the local competition- PA does have wineries to compete with the state stores, even if you do have to dig harder to find them.



report abuse
 

thehova

posted March 1, 2010 at 12:30 am


heh….the night was a disaster because you purchased the wrong type of wine.
This post has to be a joke.



report abuse
 

Senescent

posted March 1, 2010 at 2:55 am


I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I recall the issue with the state stores is the statewide employees’ union. In short, they know what committees and what subcommittees and appointed boards are in charge of the system, and who sits on them, and you don’t.



report abuse
 

Jon

posted March 1, 2010 at 6:30 am


Re: Government run Healthcare is going to be the same story!
Red herring alert!
Even if the current bill passes, we will not have “government run healthcare”. Big, big difference between the government helping some people to afford healthcare, and the govermment owning hospitals and employing doctors.



report abuse
 

public_defender

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:29 am


The Pennsylvania laws you despise 1) fill the pockets of friends of politicians (making all politicians happy) and 2) discourage drinking (making the temperance lobby happy). Win-win from the point of view of politicians.
Not everyone is willing to drive an hour and a half for wine, so fewer people will drink. And enough people in Pennsylvania don’t care that you don’t enjoy drinking. They don’t want you to enjoy drinking.
Plus, how could bad wine ruin a visit with a friend? I could see how it would diminish the fun. But ruin? A bad drink shouldn’t ruin a couple of hours with a good friend. Count your blessings. As a father and husband, a couple of hours with a friend should be a relaxing diversion that shouldn’t be ruined by a bad bottle of wine.



report abuse
 

Dan Knezevich

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:55 am


Comrade: W3Lcom3 to the Sovi3T socializt R3public of P3HHsylvania. W3 have win3 and wodkya and your liquor n33ds. You will buy it an you will like it!!! As a Serb-American I like slivovitz. My wine store manager said. Oh, we discontinued that item, it’s not a big seller. Now there are not many Serbs in these parts. But at a Jersey liquor store, in a similarly Serb deprived area, the shelf was fully stocked. Come visit I’ll share my Jersey slivovitz with u! Zhivili!



report abuse
 

SteveM

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:59 am


Rod,
You should zotz out this entry, find another blog and hope this crew of hectoring harpies don’t follow you around.
BTW, here’s to your good luck navigating the prosaic aspects of life in PA, minus the patronizing natter of the cultural cops.



report abuse
 

Mac S.

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:02 am


so fewer people will drink. Actually, I believe that studies done on states who have sold/privatized their stores show that control matters little in the overall amount of alcohol consumption and that when enforcement variables are controlled) DUIs increase in the states with higher gov control over alcohol sales. See brief on social impacts of privatization as an example of how they compare.
http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/research/detail/government-run-liquor-stores-the-social-impact-of-privatization
good writer must create situations that readers can identify with You’re kidding right? I have not always agreed with some of the opinions in his blog over the years but the man can write. Seems the sour grapes to balance out that sweet wine can be found in the comboxes.



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:10 am


I don’t think Rod needs me to stick up for him, but good grief, give him a break over the “ruined evening”. It’s not just the bad wine, folks, it’s the frustration and anger over the whole situation. And it only gets worse when you think about how needless it all was if Pennsy could hire in their PLCB competitively or if Rod had just gone out of state.
Replace ‘bottle of wine’ with ‘the big game’ or ‘boneless leg of lamb’ and you ought to get the picture.



report abuse
 

Richard

posted March 1, 2010 at 8:11 am


Sorry, that last post was mine, stupid captcha thing expired…



report abuse
 

michael

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:19 am


I share Rod’s pain. As a Californian, this would be intolerable to me. Ideally, keep in your pantry or wine closet at least one bottle of many different types of wine, in case you ever need it in a pinch for any occasion, so you’re not at the mercy of the nearby state liquor store.



report abuse
 

Wineguy999

posted March 1, 2010 at 9:48 am


I’m just trying to figure out why he was in the German section looking for Alsace wines. Last I heard, the Alsace was liberated from Germany in ’45, when it again became French.



report abuse
 

owlfarmer

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:11 am


I was just checking up on your new digs, after envying your move to Philadelphia for a couple of months (we do miss you here in the Dallas area), and got a real laugh out of your predicament. Sorry about that, but State Stores were one of the things I have missed least about Pennsylavnia in my thirty-plus year absence since graduating from Penn. However, I did want to remind you that things were pretty awful in the Metroplex thirty years ago, too. No wine or beer in supermarkets, then no buying wine or beer on Sunday. I guess there’s still a restriction about buying it before noon. And we still can’t buy “real” booze except in certain areas, so if single malt is our tipple of choice, we generally have to travel. I had hoped that Pennsylvania would have seen the light by now, but since it hasn’t, I guess I won’t envy you too much.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:49 am


Kirk: (If anything, it sounds a little gay. Your wife is out of town, and you invite a man-friend over to drink wine?
I had to read this a couple of times to make sure a grown-up actually believes that men drinking wine together is “a little gay.” Like all those faggy Frenchmen, Italians and Spaniards, I guess. I know you live in the middle of nowhere and all, but aren’t you even a little bit embarrassed by this petty sentiment?
Let me see if I can explain this to you. Let’s say you invited a friend over to watch a boxing match on pay per view. And let’s say the guy who just installed your cable said you were set up to receive pay per view broadcasts. Five minutes before the match begins, you find out that the guy had it all wrong, and the evening you and your friend had planned was ruined through the incompetence of the cable company selling you their services. See, for us wine-bibbing nancy-boys and other foodies of dubious sexual tastes, it’s like that with the stuff we care a lot about. The point of this whole post is to complain about a ridiculous interference of the state government in the free market under a scheme that not only makes poor delivery of services far more likely, but also makes it inevitable, as there is no effective redress. I am sorry that the horizons of your imagination are so narrowly drawn that you can’t participate in the discussion about the proper role of government in the regulation of alcohol sales, but that is something for you to work on, and to aspire to.
[P.S. to Wine Guy: the Alsatian Rieslings — I think there was only one, but I’m not sure — were shelved with the German whites, hence my position in the wine store.]



report abuse
 

David

posted March 1, 2010 at 10:55 am


You were wondering a couple of weeks ago, Rod, how to get more comments on this new blog. Guess you know now.



report abuse
 

Helen

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:10 am


My sister lives in Philly. She says the dumb liquor laws have the positive effect of making many of the restaurants BYOB, so you’re not forced to spend a lot in order to have some wine with dinner.
So there’s that. But otherwise I agree, the rules are stupid.



report abuse
 

amm139

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:19 am


Alternatively, you could order a half-case of good wine to have on hand. Granted, this would have done little to salvage your evening with the Riesling drinker, but it does obviate you having to return to the horrible ABC stores. (My husband used to have to ‘smuggle’ bottles of Lebanese Arak from DC to his dad’s Middle Eastern deli in Pittsburgh because the state stores didn’t carry it, despite a strong demand for it from the local Lebanese population. Anyone in the hospitality/restaurant business in PA knows that this is about $$ for entrenched political interests. Period.)
Anyway, I highly recommend Sherry Lehman in NYC for this. They are incredibly helpful (even over the phone) and super knowledgeable. Plus, there are a range of price points and they are by no means snobs when it comes to choosing a cheaper wine. We bought the sparkline wine for our wedding there, based on something I had read in the NYT about a blind taste test that included this particular wine, and the tasters placed it alongside top bottles that were $200 or more. (This was $10/bottle.) Sherry-Lehman is the only store in the US that imports this particular wine, so we had them ship it to IL for our wedding. We live in NYC now and we’ve been going with them ever since. http://www.sherry-lehmann.com/



report abuse
 

Aaron

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:22 am


Amen brother Dreher! I feel your pain. I love wine and love studying about it! I am currently studying for my CSW (certified specialist of wine) and even though I know a decent amount about wine I still prefer to talk to a knowledgeable store clerk becasue usually they have tasted most of the wines in the store. Also, a good rule of thumb for Riesling is to look at the alcohol content. If the content is higher, it should be drier, 13-14%. If it is lower it is sweeter, 10-12%. I hope that helps you next time!



report abuse
 

Your Name

posted March 1, 2010 at 11:41 am


THIS from a ‘conservative':
“Open your minds a little bit, why don’t you?”
The irony is delicious.



report abuse
 

T

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:35 pm


Total Wine has an amazing selection, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in their staff, either… they are underpaid, overworked, and there is corporate pressure to push high-margin wines. The people who really know wine get other offers and leave.



report abuse
 

Peter

posted March 1, 2010 at 1:52 pm


Total Wine has an amazing selection, but I wouldn’t put too much faith in their staff, either… they are underpaid, overworked, and there is corporate pressure to push high-margin wines. The people who really know wine get other offers and leave.
Agreed. If you get paralyzed by choice, Total Wine is a real problem. It’s like the Best Buy of wine stores: huge selection, hit-and-miss help. It is really designed for an informed wine consumer who has done their homework; kind of like Best Buy



report abuse
 

JohnT

posted March 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm


Make your own wine. It’s not that hard, you’re in the right climate for it now. From box kites, to fresh grape juice the results are not half bad.
Do if only to really understand the process and the different flavors and odors and fragrances that appear during the process.
It’s good for the kids to see this stuff done. If you want to know how I will help you. Let me know.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted March 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm


The irony is delicious.
You may find, once you have some experience of the world, that closed-mindedness is not a trait that inheres in either conservatives or liberals particularly. Some of the most intolerant, illiberal people I have had the displeasure of dealing with are people who consider themselves the soul of broad-mindedness.
We’re all closed-minded about something, and we all should be. That old saying about someone who’s mind is truly and constantly open will have their brain fall out — that’s really true. The trick is learning which things you ought to be closed-minded to, and which things you ought to keep an open mind about.



report abuse
 

dubs

posted March 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm


Rod, for lack of a much more polite way of putting it, screw the people who don’t understand this and are giving you grief.
the night was a disaster because you purchased the wrong type of wine. This post has to be a joke.
Yes, much like if you invited a vegetarian friend over for pizza because you had wanted to share a particular restaurant’s pizza with him after telling him it was great. The entire purpose of the night, then, was to spend time with a friend and share pizza. The pizza is then among the major points in the evening. Now you get a sausage and pepperoni pizza delivered, and the restaurant closes before they can make you another. Now you’re stuck with an entire build-up to SHARING A GREAT PIZZA together, and you’ve got nothing of the sort. I can’t imagine anyone ever complaining about that, or feeling slighted and feeling like the night was ruined because sharing pizza was the point of the night.
Wow. That certain people have never looked forward to a great glass of wine with a friend is certainly not Rod’s fault, because they don’t understand what sharing a great glass of wine with a friend means.
While Rod could’ve researched this on his own, it’s surely not out of the realm of realistic expectations to hope that a manager at a wine shop can help you locate a…..wine that meets your request.
Really sorry, Rod. The idea that it’s out of line to be upset about a bad wine ruining an evening that was centered around spending time with a friend while drinking a good wine is ridiculous to me. From some of the vitriol directed your way here, you’d think that the post was about the time you got silly drunk on the wrong wine and went and got gay married while leaving your kids home alone, thankfully under the watchful eye of a pack of eight wild pit bulls whose help you enlisted to ensure their safety.
Jeez.



report abuse
 

Mac S.

posted March 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm


From some of the vitriol directed your way here, you’d think that the post was about the time you got silly drunk on the wrong wine and went and got gay married while leaving your kids home alone, thankfully under the watchful eye of a pack of eight wild pit bulls…
ooh, oooh, and then posted the pics of it all on Facebook after he sent us all spam to join his Mafia or his Farm or whatever. Yes, that bad! Couldn’t resist. As transplant to PA for 15+ years and a wine gal-but not an expert, I feel his pain. He has every right to vent about the backwards system. Well, at least they carry Titos.



report abuse
 

Jim

posted March 2, 2010 at 9:55 am


Or you could do your online research before you go to the wine store instead of after.



report abuse
 

Mark the Zealot

posted March 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm


So, Rod, did the wine-Nazi give you your money back? Inquiring minds want to know.



report abuse
 

Judith

posted March 2, 2010 at 5:43 pm


Rod, your comment:
“I don’t understand people who get together to watch a basketball game, but I do understand camaraderie based on mutual interests, so good on ‘em. Open your minds a little bit, why don’t you?”
OK, I did the turn around you asked for, and it wasn’t that hard, even though all wine instantly makes me sick in the head, and the smell of it makes me want to puke, almost as much as all sports does even. So see I’m with Kirk, this complaint is a 100% mystery to me. But that’s OK, I have lots of other things to complain about. And I opened my eyes just a little, after you asked for it.



report abuse
 

Rod Dreher

posted March 2, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Well, a coda to this story. I went to the wine store last night three hours before closing time, and asked to speak to someone about a refund or an exchange. The clerk behind the cash register said he couldn’t help me, that he was the only person on duty, and couldn’t leave the register.
Mind you, this is six p.m. on a weeknight. There is only a single person on duty in this wine store. If a customer needed any kind of assistance beyond what he could ask of the man at the register, he was out of luck.
The man agreed to let me exchange the bottle for one of equal value. I picked up a bottle of the Trimbach, and paid two dollars more for it. The exchange was quick, and the clerk was polite, for which I was grateful. But never will I shop there again.



report abuse
 

Keystone Cop

posted March 2, 2010 at 6:17 pm


You’ve done it now, driving with an open container.
Pa liquor laws suck big time. Wineries need a break, too.



report abuse
 

James Card

posted March 3, 2010 at 3:22 am


Good choice, Rod. Glad to see it worked out.
If you like dry Rieslings and wine vineyards and glorious countryside, you must visit Alsace when you get a chance. I was there in November and was in heaven every minute.



report abuse
 

stoat, the wine guy

posted March 4, 2010 at 8:42 am


I know that Alsace makes some nice dry Rieslings. I stood over in the small German wine section, looking at the whites.
as someone may already have pointed out to you, you might have had better luck in the french section, alsace being in france and all.
or perhaps not. this is pennsylvania we’re talking about.
[Note from Rod: I know geography. As I pointed out earlier in this thread, this wine store shelved the Alsatian whites with the German whites. — RD]



report abuse
 

curious

posted March 9, 2010 at 11:10 pm


Isn’t it interesting that the state can have a monopoly on a legal consumer product?
I would think voters would be outraged by the state running a retail business with no competition, what happens when the state decides it is going to be the only beef supplier or the only place you can buy tires etc..
will the citizens just go along with it?????????????????????



report abuse
 

ed

posted March 12, 2010 at 5:44 pm


I lived the Soviet State of Pennsylvania for 35 years. The state has driven out all the young people over the last 20 years with excessive taxes, poor schools and socially repressive laws. I now live in San Diego, thank God, and would never consider returning after seeing how free people live. Harrisburg is a real mess, but in the Lebanon-Lancaster area you can find the Mount Hope Winery and Nisslies (sic) Winery. The second, which I am certain I have misspelled, makes an incredible apple wine.



report abuse
 

Gene Callahan

posted March 16, 2010 at 9:14 am


Because PA limits them to a case or more, they can only carry really popular brands. Ten delis within five blocks of me in Brooklyn have a selection 5 or 10 times as large as the “beer warehouse” in my PA town.



report abuse
 

Gene Callahan

posted March 16, 2010 at 9:15 am


Oops, sorry, that was supposed to say “What about beer warehoues?”



report abuse
 

stari_momak

posted March 29, 2010 at 3:59 am


Whatever happened to localism? the state liquor store is the way that Penn, and I believe Ore, and several other states have chosen to deal with this psychoactive substance. Utah restricts alcohol because it was founded by Mormons. They gave up there unique conceptions of marriage, at least let them have quirky alcohol laws. There are probably at least 4 times as many other states who don’t have these institutions, so there are plenty of other choices where to live. Just like Bavarian Sunday closing laws, or the Andalucian 3 hour closing during siesta, state liquor stores are part of the great diversity that makes life worth living.



report abuse
 

Wine Bottle Cellar

posted July 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm


Funny story….I could see how that could be very annoying though. You should consider joining our wine club. I think it would suit you well and you will learn a lot about wine. This way you won’t have to rely on the store manager next time.
Brayden
http://www.winebottlecellar.net



report abuse
 

GregPurdy

posted November 24, 2011 at 11:52 am


Privatize and do you think that the Rite-aid will even have two reislings in stock? Try going to West Virginia if you want to see what the future will be for any place in Pa. out side a big city



report abuse
 

B

posted June 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm


I can walk into any grocery store, gas station, Target, etc and find huge selections of beer or wine. Singles, six pacs cases, whatever. (North Carolina) I had no idea there was a temperance movement in America, what a ridiculous and ass backwards concept. No wonder people don’t want to live in Pa. Sounds more repressed than that town in Footloose.



report abuse
 

Kirth Gersen

posted August 21, 2013 at 10:12 am


I’ll never buy “wine” in PA again, unless they privatize liquor (which will sadly never happen here). Since moving to PA from TX, I’ve bought something like 8-10 bottles of wine — different stores, different wineries, years, vintages. On opening, every cork was rotten, and every bottle had turned to vinegar. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM.



report abuse
 

danielle

posted March 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm


Maybe instead of going to a state store, you could have checked out a local winery. I work at a western pa winery and i assure you, if you came into my winery and asked me for a specific type of wine, whether or not we make that varietal, you would walk out the door with the wine you want or one that would compare to it. Instead of patronizing the state store, how about throwing some money to the local businesses. We buy local, sell local and employ local people. And we know what a dry Riesling is.



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

Another blog to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Rod Dreher. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here is another blog you may also enjoy: Most Recent Scientology Story on Beliefnet! Happy Reading!!!

posted 3:25:02pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mommy explains her plastic surgery
In Dallas (naturally), a parenting magazine discusses how easy it is for mommies who don't like their post-child bodies to get surgery -- and to have it financed! -- to reverse the effects of time and childbirth. Don't like what nursing has done to your na-nas? Doc has just the solution: Doctors say

posted 10:00:56pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Why I became Orthodox
Wrapping up my four Beliefnet years, I was thinking about the posts that attracted the most attention and comment in that time. Without a doubt the most popular (in terms of attracting attention, not all of it admiring, to be sure) was the October 12, 2006, entry in which I revealed and explained wh

posted 9:46:58pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

Modern Calvinists
Wow, they don't make Presbyterians like they used to!

posted 8:47:01pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »

'Rape by deception'? Huh?
The BBC this morning reported on a bizarre case in Israel of an Arab man convicted of "rape by deception," because he'd led the Jewish woman with whom he'd had consensual sex to believe he was Jewish. Ha'aretz has the story here. Plainly it's a racist verdict, and a bizarre one -- but there's more t

posted 7:51:28pm Jul. 21, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.