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22 Dec 2011

Walkthrough: Chargers Wine

by Mike Tanier

It’s time to play Hocus Focus. Take a look at the diagram below. What is wrong with this picture?

It is a perfectly ordinary running play. The fullback does a fine job opening up a cutback hole by kicking out the defensive end, then roll blocks the outside linebacker to boot. Those blocks, plus a quick cut and some defensive overpursuit, result in a 39-yard run. Great work, but not the kind of exotic play that I usually diagram here.

Give up?

The team is the Colts. They are in the I-formation. It is not a goal line or short yardage play; it is first-and-10. That is not a backup defensive tackle playing fullback. It is a fullback playing fullback. With nothing else to lose, the Colts have decided to sometimes use a tactic that the rest of the league has been using for the last 40 years or so.

With so much talk about going winless and sucking for Luck, it was easy to lose track of what the Colts have been doing. Early in the year, their offense looked like a scaled-down version of the same thing we have seen over the last decade: single-back formations with three wide receivers or a tight end in the slot, and zone stretch running plays sprinkled among tons of short passes. According to our game charters, the I-formation made its first non-short-yardage appearance in two plays against the Browns in Week 2. It then showed up briefly in the second half of the Steelers game. The Colts used it seven times – twice in short yardage situations – against the Chiefs. On Sunday, when they were finally nursing a lead, the Colts used it a lot, but I did not chart the exact number of plays because I have Christmas shopping to do.

Figure 1: Colts ... Power?

The Colts now have a real fullback: Jerome Felton, who like Dan Orlovsky and Ernie Sims was a member of the winless 2008 Lions. Collecting that many members of a winless team was really just asking for it, but Felton has played very well. The Colts have dealt with injuries to skill position players for years, and at times they appeared rather stubborn for sticking the fifth wide receiver and fourth tight end on the field instead of grabbing a Felton type.

To understand how momentous this sudden embrace of the I-formation is, consider this: the Colts used it for just nine non short-yardage plays last year. Eight of those plays occurred in the fourth quarters of blowout wins. The Colts used two-back formations just six percent of the time last season, the lowest rate in the NFL -- and most of those two-back formations were shotgun sets with someone like Dallas Clark hiding in the backfield. If the Colts were in the I-formation, the ball was at the 1-yard line (and backup lineman Eric Foster was the fullback), or the game was over and no one was paying attention.

Will the I-formation remain in Indianapolis next year? There are way too many variable in play to answer that question. If Peyton Manning returns (with or without someone waiting in the wings) and the offensive coaching staff remains somewhat intact, it would be nice to see the Colts have a few traditional two-back sets. They rode their old system as far as it could go, which was very far, but there were times when it looked like diminishing returns had set in last year. Manning can still call audibles from the I-formation. Defenses need something else to think about. The occasional off-tackle plunge or iso play could breathe new life into all of those option routes in the middle of the field.

The Colts. I-formation. Get used to it. Soon, they may even employ professional, capable, punt returners. Then we will know there is really something wrong with the picture.

Chargers Wine

When you think of San Diego, you no doubt think of the rolling, verdant hills of the California wine country. And when you think of sitting down to watch Chargers football, you imagine a delicious glass of cabernet sauvignon in your hand.

Okay, so San Diego is about as far from Napa Valley as my South Jersey home is from Chicago. And even my friends with refined palates do not sit down to football with a glass of wine. There is not much to connect the San Diego Chargers to fine wine, except for Legacy, the cabernet sauvignon that commemorates 50 years of Chargers football.

Chargers wine! What will they think of next? Jaguars oatmeal? Dom Perignon bobbleheads? I have watched the Chargers for decades, but I never truly tasted them. I had to have a bottle or two.

When news that there is such a thing as Chargers wine surfaced in September, I dropped everything and began researching. Legacy is produced by Bell Wine Cellars, a family vineyard established in 1991. They are based in Yountville, California, a town established by Robin Yount after he retired from the Brewers. Here is how the Bell Wine Cellars website describes Legacy:

To celebrate more than 50 years of San Diego Chargers football, the Chargers have partnered with veteran winemaker Anthony Bell to create a limited-edition cabernet sauvignon, a full-bodied wine full of vibrant fruit flavors and toasty oak. Hand harvested grapes from select Napa Valley vineyards were fermented in stainless steel tanks with select cultured yeasts, and aged in small French oak barrels prior to bottling. The wine is deep ruby in color with rich, ripe cherry, cassis and blackberry fruit aromas. Soft tannins and sweet oak combine with a gentle hint of pepper and spice to yield a full-bodied wine with excellent balance. A touch of Syrah adds roundness to the palate, giving the wine a smooth, inviting and lingering finish.

Syrah, according to Wikipidyrah, is a strong-flavored dark-skinned grape that is often used in wine making. So this wine is made from grapes, with grapes added. Long before purchase, I was entering the Chargers mind frame. You have to love promotional copy that uses the adjective "select" twice. "Select" has no real meaning, but it hints that one particular option has been chosen over several others, which seems to be a basic prerequisite for making nearly anything. This Walkthrough was written using select words on a select computer using select software, and only the finest adverbs, which are the grammatical equivalent of yeasts.

Visions of select cultured yeasts and wild cherries danced in my head as I downloaded the tasting notes, which I have re-paragraphed slightly so they sound more like a poem:

The 2008 growing season received about 60 percent of normal rainfall.
The dry soils and warm spring led to an early bud break.
The frost season was one of the worst in 30 years,
With the total crop off by 40 percent.
Some rain occurred during bloom
And the summer was relatively cool,
Delaying veraison.
A heat spell over Labor Day brought maturity
Levels along quickly and then cooled down to allow
Gradual ripening.

Ah, so if the wine stinks, we can blame early bud break. Can you picture two connoisseurs discussing these matters over a carafe? "What you are tasting, there, is the delayed veraison." Pretty soon, scouting reports for rookies will read like these tasting notes. "The 1990 growing season for infants in Dade County was marked by a 15 percent rise in breakfast cereal prices that may have lowered caloric intake by future free safeties, and excessively hot Augusts around 2002 may have convinced some kids to take a year off from Pop Warner ball." Imagine A.J. Smith gathering all of these notes, cackling with evil satisfaction, and passing them off to Norv Turner, who furrows his brow at them before folding them into his favorite origami shape, the rectangle.

The tasting notes were followed by pairing notes: "Enjoy Chargers Legacy with a wide variety of foods –- hamburgers, grilled steaks, lamb, grilled chicken, pizza -– or on its own, and savor the wine’s delicious fruit flavors." This wine goes with everything from hamburgers to lamb, making it the Darren Sproles of libations. Wait, Sproles is not with the Chargers anymore. What current player can be used as a metaphor for versatility? Jacob Hester. This is the Jacob Hester of wines.

Do people really drink wine with hamburgers? I suppose they do in the age of modern cuisine, which requires that gourmet delicacies be combined with the stuff we give toddlers as a potty training reward. Truffle oil macaroni and cheese. Kobe beef sliders. Caviar on cheese doodles. A finely-polished turd drizzled with rosemary balsamic vinegar. California cabernet sauvignon and a Whopper. Ingest the irony.

But really, those pairing notes are like a palm reading: they are so vague and inclusive that you can interpret them any way you want, which benefits the wine maker, who wants to prove that his product is perfect for every occasion. I want to read pairing notes that expressively prohibit foods. "Do not serve this Chargers wine with fish, or a small parasite will spontaneously generate in your colon, grow to a length of 1,700 feet, then burst from your abdomen just before dessert." I had no intention of serving Legacy wine with burgers. I wanted to make it the centerpiece of a wine-and-cheese spread: a star, not an accompaniment.

Credit card on my lap, I worked my way through the Bell Winery website, bought two bottles of legacy, typed in my address, clicked the drop-down menu for states, and ... no New Jersey. Let me check again ... nope. Why, shipment of alcoholic beverages to New Jersey must be illegal! Why didn’t I know that? Maybe it’s because I am a rational, clear-thinking human who cannot imagine a Byzantine, bureaucratic, puritanical cluster-hump of a regulatory system that would extend its grasping arm down to $50 credit card purchases of exceedingly mild intoxicants.

I attempted to sort through the 84-page New Jersey Alcohol Beverage Control handbook, but quickly got a headache. No matter, I have several friends in Philly. I’ll just ... silly me, Pennsylvania’s liquor laws make New Jersey look like Havana under Mafia control. Every liquor store in Pennsylvania is state-owned, and all beverage purchases are made in the kind of insane bulk you need to make sure the product is available in Philly, Pittsburgh, Erie, Altoona, and some ski town in the Poconos. If the Steelers made a wine, no doubt I would be able to procure it, and it would taste like Iron City Beer, made from squeezing the grass clumps that stick to the undercarriage of your lawnmower the morning after a thunderstorm. If Legacy wine cannot make it to New Jersey, there is no way in hell it is going to Philadelphia.

Maryland: that’s the ticket! I had two bottles shipped to Brian, regular Walkthrough reader and supporting actor, last seen a few years ago accompanying me on the doomed gambling trip to Delaware. Brian collected the wine, and when it was finally convenient for both of us, drove up I-95 to drink some with me. A quick check of the New Jersey ABC handbook revealed that he was allowed to transport one gallon of wine for personal consumption into the state of New Jersey. If I had bought four bottles, we would have been breaking the law. This is the sort of thing that leads otherwise sane people to live in bunkers in Montana.

In preparation for Brian’s arrival, I headed to the Village Cheese Shop in Haddon Heights, New Jersey, and asked the nice lady there what kind of cheese pairs well with Chargers-themed wine. This woman has dealt with me before and did not find the question odd. When I clarified that it was Chargers-themed cabernet sauvignon, it did not help: pairing wine with cheese is a delicate matter that should not be left to those of us with anything else to think about. I gave all of the information I had: Napa Valley, Philip Rivers, Syrah, select wild cherries, Vincent Jackson, bud break, and so on. She proceeded to sell me exactly what she would have sold me anyway: the cheeses she was trying to get rid of.

The first cheese was an Applewood smoked cheddar from England, dusted with sweet paprika. The second was a Pyrenees with peppercorn that I bet was left over from the Tour de France. The third was something called Morbier. "Morning’s milk, afternoon milk, separated by a vegetable ash," she wrote on the card I kept so I would remember what the hell I bought for this column. In France, she said, you would be able to tell the taste difference between the morning and afternoon milk, because several extra hours of cow digestion makes even more of a difference in the taste of fine foods than early bud break makes on wine grapes. Did you know that French Oreos also always have chocolate made from left-facing cocoa beans in the morning and chocolate made from right-facing cocoa beans on the top, and that the crème is freshly whipped in a copper bowl with a mithril whisk by a virgin before each cookie is assembled, and that if you eat an Oreo upside down in a French restaurant, they brand you a philistine and only serve you baguettes that the cat licked? It’s all true! And Morbier cheese ... well, we have no chance to taste the difference between the 11:59 a.m. and 12:01 p.m. cheese in New Jersey, but I can verify the existence of some black gravelly substance between the two layers, which is in fact burnt vegetation, something that looked like it should have been flicked into an ashtray. I bought a half-pound of the stuff.

Brian arrived, and I laid out a cheese board. We opened Legacy, sat down, and let it breathe. The Applewood cheddar had a nice sharp bite, and the paprika did add some sweet zest. The Pyrenees was unremarkable, but sat well on a cracker. The Morbier tasted like the kind of thing gourmands talk themselves into eating: no more funky and rancid than a really rockin’ provolone, but something you would not buy twice unless you wanted to impress people with your tales of French milking schedules and burnt vegetables.

Figure 2: Cheese and Wine

And Legacy? It tasted like ... wine.

Brian and I are not wine drinkers. We are not beer snobs of either stripe, either: we don’t drive sixty miles to taste the latest IPA that tastes like every other damn IPA, nor do we uphold mass-market swill as the One True American Beverage for Non-wussies. We can tell an IPA from a lager, a stout from a dark Belgian, and Old Bushmills from Jameson from the stuff my grandfather used to mix with generic lemon-lime soda. If Legacy had some striking feature that separated it from other California cabernet sauvignon, we had some chance of finding it. But it was not there. Legacy was nice. Mannered. Orderly. We sloshed in our mouths and all that. Nothing.

My wife had a glass, but she offered little help. Then again, she claims that she cannot tell butter from margarine, and I have lived with her long enough to validate that claim. We offered C.J. a sip, but the public school health class martinets have gotten to him, and he believes even a sip of alcohol will cause the kind of irreversible brain damage that leads to a life of blogging. (Holy Communion, as you can imagine, was a blast.) We split a bottle of wine, ate much of the cheese, shrugged, called a babysitter, and went out for beers.

And then weeks passed. I wanted to report on Legacy before Thanksgiving, but there was nothing to say. The Chargers got terrible. The wine was just middling. There has been no shortage of Walkthrough topics. Meanwhile, that second bottle sat in my liquor cabinet, pleading with me to tell the world its story.

What Legacy really needed was a real wine tasting with an honest-to-goodness wine freak. Not far from where I live, there’s a high-end spirits shop with a huge wine selection. I sent the owner an e-mail and explained my story. He replied that he would be happy to help me with my Chargers wine project.

There was one small problem: we could not open the wine and drink it in his store. That is against state law. Yep, and there it is on Page 73 of the handbook: "All tasting events and samplings must be from the inventory of the licensee." What’s more, only six bottles of wine can be opened at any one time for a tasting event, and a form must be filled out and sent to the state detailing the name of the wine, the size of the bottle, and the date it was opened. Perhaps this is a good time to point out that New Jersey schools are cutting teachers left and right in the name of saving tax dollars, but the person who collates the wine-tasting paperwork still has job security.

The store owner offered to bring a bottle home, taste it, and offer his thoughts. What a coup! I wrote back to him explaining how hard the wine was to get, how part of my article would be about how crazy New Jersey alcohol laws were, and how funny it would be that the final "expert tasting" had to be held in some top-secret location!

He immediately declined to be involved with this story, for fear of being associated with something that might be construed as circumventing New Jersey alcohol laws.

Okay ... he has a liquor license to protect. I sent him one last email, asking if he could recommend some other connoisseur. I got not reply. He probably deleted his whole hard drive, set fire to his computer, then spent a few days walking the streets of Camden County smoking cigarettes and looking over his shoulder. A fugitive from the New Jersey ABC who dared to exchange correspondence with a stranger about drinking a glass of wine and discussing whether he could taste wild cherries or early bud break. The poor guy. I dragged him into this web of intrigue.

And now, I don’t know if I have broken a law or not. Brian was allowed to bring the wine to me for "personal consumption." But this is not really personal consumption, is it? This is business. I am profiting by that sale of wine by writing this! Is there something in that handbook about writing about out-of-state wine? I cannot find it. But wait ... it does say that there cannot be seats at a wine tasting. There are chairs in my kitchen. I even admitted to sitting down a few paragraphs ago. I have violated interstate alcohol control law, and I have dragged one of my best friends in as an accomplice. They are probably hauling the poor cheese lady off in handcuffs as I type this. Oh, curse you San Diego Chargers! With your plain, ordinary wine that matches your everything else. I blame you for tempting me with this ridiculous Legacy promotion!

My only hope for getting rid of that second bottle of Legacy was to serve it to unsuspecting guests. I hosted a Christmas party this weekend, and I walked around with an open bottle and two glasses in my hand asking: "Chargers wine?" This was not the conversation sparker I was hoping for, but a few guests accepted a glass, probably just to get me to move on and stop telling the story of getting it shipped from Maryland and running afoul of the ABC.

I drank one last glass myself, my palate the opposite of cleansed: Legacy was going down my throat on the heels of several beers and a variety of finger foods. But in the tipsy moment that it first reached my taste buds, I experienced something sweet. Cherries? Gentle hints of pepper and spice? Or perhaps 50 years of football: I thought I could taste Sid Gillman drawing up plays, John Hadl going deep, Kellen Winslow catching touchdowns and blocking kicks, Junior Seau freelancing, Natrone Means meaning business, LaDainian Tomlinson at the goal line, Shawne Merriman blowing up a left tackle. It was glorious, a blast of football history in a sip, though it was fleeting, and soon Legacy tasted again like an ordinary California wine, without a hint of Dan Fouts’ beard.

On Sunday morning, I poured the Chargers Legacy down the drain, and I felt like A.J. Smith.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, from the whole Walkthrough gang! I don’t have to wish you a Happy New Year, because Walkthrough will be back next week with the All-Rookie Team 2011!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 22 Dec 2011

68 comments, Last at 09 Mar 2013, 2:57am by lighten acne scars home remedy

Comments

1
by DZ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 11:41am

This should have been a major part of the offense from week 1. The Colts inability to alter the nature of the offense to accommodate and hide their horrible QBs has been the single biggest reason the coaching staff needs to go.

It doesn't take a genius to figure that Durtis Portovsky is not Peyton Manning.

It's been weeks of frustration begging for just this very change.

2
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 11:51am

No Ritz? Phillistine.

3
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:21pm

When you think of San Diego, you no doubt think of the rolling, verdant hills of the California wine country.

Mike isn't the first talking head to make this comment when they hear about the Chargers branding a wine. No, San Diego is not next to Napa, at least on anything other than a global scale. However, we do have wineries here in SD, and we actually have a thriving if much less famous wine country just up the 15 in Temecula. Again, Temecula ain't Napa, but it has the advantages of being 1)nearby 2) much easier on the wallet, with 99% of its wine being at least drinkable and several gems to be found.

If it was "local authenticity" they were looking for, they should have either gone with a local vineyard or, better yet, created a Chargers craft beer, which would have been much more representative of a city with a very strong craft brewing culture. But of course the whole idea of "location" in wine is often a ruse, because a lot of vinters actually purchase some of all of their grapes from vineyards in other regions.

As for the nasty web of state and county liquor laws that covers this great land of ours... well that's a subject worthy of a rant and a half.

49
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:18pm

Agreed, I've been to Temecula and they do have some decent offerings.

But going even further, it shouldn't have been hard to guess that anything offered in connection with the Chargers (or any other sports team) would be a second-rate offering sold at a premium to pick the wallets of the team's fans.

55
by sjt (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 1:51am

I'm sure that's true of any branded product. It remains to be seen if its really "second rate", though I doubt its worth all of the $25 I shelled out for it.

Of course, everything is a matter of perspective. A $7 bottle quickly becomes a $37 bottle if served at a restaurant or bar. $25 for a bottle is indeed a lot, but its also a fraction of the price of actually attending a game. And for the price of one share of Packer stock, you could instead have a bottle of wine a day for 10 straight days! Something which really comes in handy for a Charger fan during their annual lull.

4
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:21pm

Claymont, Delaware, is supported almost entirely by Pennsylvanians dodging PA's byzantine 19th-century liquor laws.

25
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:09pm

PA's byzantine liquor laws date to just after Prohibition.

37
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 4:32pm

I know. 19th century sounded better.

30
by CathyW :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:51pm

Yes. Those of us who live in Delaware and Chester Counties make the trek on a regular basis to Total Wine:

http://www.totalwine.com/StoreList.aspx?state=DE&store=101

50
by LionInAZ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 7:20pm

These laws are set up mainly to protect beer and wine distributors.

51
by Jerry :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 9:45pm

Wine distributors? Pennsylvania? Hahahahahahahahaha. As Mike said, "Pennsylvania’s liquor laws make New Jersey look like Havana under Mafia control."

5
by Led :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:30pm

Man, that's a hell of a long walk just to set up the final punchline, although there are worse experiences than a long walk with good company. A wise man knows life is more about the journey than the destination.

53
by armchair journe... :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 10:05pm

oh, but so worth the trip.

//AJMQB

6
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:33pm

So both Mike Martz and the Colts are utilizing honest-to-goodness real fullbacks.

Are we sure this isn't a sign of the apocalypse?

13
by MJ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:12pm

2012 is not far off...

8
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:51pm

Wow....I had no idea that somebody, even former athletes, could establish towns as recently as the '90s. Okay...maybe in some wasteland in South Dakota or Wyoming, but in Southern California?

...folding them into his favorite origami shape, the rectangle.
That's some fantastic imagery.

16
by Dean :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:26pm

I think that imagery might have been right about where I completely lost it and just soaked in the brilliance of Tanier's A Game.

And to think this sat on the shelf for months while other stuff got used!

24
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:09pm

more of Tanier's humor. Yountville is in the Napa Valley and sadly is not named after Robin Yount but the trapper George Calvert Yount.

26
by Dean :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:11pm

Trapper is Wayne Rogers.

31
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:56pm

According to his autobiography, Mike Farrell really hates him.

23
by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:07pm

Establishing a town really isn't that hard. You just need to build a settler, and then move it (ideally) 3 spaces diagonally and 1 space horizontally from your existing town, then just establish a new town. If you're thinking ahead, you can have one of your workers build a road to the area where the town is going to be ahead of time.

62
by matt w (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:29pm

I don't actually play that (boy, is it pricey!), but I can appreciate a good allusion anyway.

7
by mansteel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 12:48pm

Bravo! I laughed out loud numerous times, and I'm not even drinking this morning!

The paragraph beginning, "In preparation for Brian's arrival..." is the second-funniest cheese shop-related thing ever.

9
by Floyd (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:04pm

Imagine A.J. Smith gathering all of these notes, cackling with evil satisfaction, and passing them off to Norv Turner, who furrows his brow at them before folding them into his favorite origami shape, the rectangle.

This line caused me to introduce the writings of Mike Tanier to my coworkers. Mostly because I was trying so hard to stifle my laugh that they asked me what was wrong.

Also loved this:

Perhaps this is a good time to point out that New Jersey schools are cutting teachers left and right in the name of saving tax dollars, but the person who collates the wine-tasting paperwork still has job security.

Merry Christmas Mike! You bring joy, laughter and football enlightenment throughout the year.

10
by White Rose Duelist :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:05pm

That is the nicest thing I've ever heard said about morbier. The second nicest was that it tasted like feet. I refuse to try a cheese whose name is basically "death".

57
by Whatev :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 7:08am

Nonsense. Morbier is the best. It's not even a blue, there is neither mold nor anything else unsavory involved in its production, so I cannot see any reason why anybody would think it tasted like feet.

11
by smk73 (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:06pm

That was a long, long, longgggg setup to get to an AJ Smith joke.

12
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:08pm

"Chargers Wine" gets my vote for best ever Tanier article.

50 years from now, I hope I'm opening up a collection of best humorous essays of all time, and there's Charles Lamb's "A Quaker's Meeting," and Thomas De Quincey's "The English Mail-Coach," and Tanier's "Chargers Wine."

14
by Overrated (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:13pm

Surprised you were able to ship it to Maryland because it's illegal there, too.

17
by Hurt Bones :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:26pm

No longer. Effective July 1, 2011, mail order wine shipments are now legal in Maryland.

19
by Dr. Previously Tasted Wines near Temecula (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:29pm

Shipping wine to Maryland just became legal on July 1st!

28
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:46pm

Oddly enough, it's legal in Virginia....but only from certain states. Total Wine & More and BevMo liked to brag that they could get me any beer from anywhere, until I asked for Alaskan. Apparently importing beer from Alaska (and a few other states) to Virginia is illegal.

29
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:50pm

How is this constitutional? Isn't this regulating interstate trade in the most obvious of ways?

32
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:06pm

A question I've asked myself many, many times.

Not being a lawyer or constitutional scholar, I don't know the answer for sure. My guess is it has something to do with the fact that each state and/or locality is allowed to control its own booze laws and distribution rules, and that applies to purchases made out of state as well.

I know in a lot of cases it may be technically legal but its just too much of a hassle for a vineyard or merchant to ship to a given state, because they have to put through paperwork and get approved by that state's government and often pay state sales tax on any product shipped to that state.

33
by Travis :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:27pm

Pretty much.

From the conclusion of Granholm v. Heald (2005), which struck down Michigan and New York bans on direct shipments of wine:

States have broad power to regulate liquor under §2 of the Twenty-first Amendment. This power, however, does not allow States to ban, or severely limit, the direct shipment of out-of-state wine while simultaneously authorizing direct shipment by in-state producers. If a State chooses to allow direct shipment of wine, it must do so on evenhanded terms.

34
by apk3000 :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:28pm

I assumed alcohol is actually considered a controlled substance of some sort. I'm not sure how MD's new law affected this, but in Montgomery County, MD, the county is also the only legal wholesaler/distributor. All bars/restaurants/stores have to buy their booze from the county's distribution centers.

36
by sjt (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:36pm

Ah yes, good old Montgomery Co. After a lifetime of living in CA it was quite a shock to walk into the Safeway in Rockville and not find a single bottle, box or can containing an alcoholic beverage in a regular supermarket. I wandered around for a good 10 minutes wondering where the hell they hid all the booze.

I have to say though, I enjoyed their county stores, which were reasonably well stocked and priced, a lot more than the situation in New York City.

42
by Alaska Jack :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:05pm

You're missing out! I just finished a six pack of Alaskan Winter Ale, brewed with spruce tips. It was excellent.

- aj

43
by dryheat :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:07pm

Feel free to send me some Smoked Porter if it's still available. I promise I won't turn you in for conspiring to violate blah blah blah.

20
by Floyd (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:33pm

In Maryland, you can have it shipped to a liquor store and pick it up there.

Maryland is still the best booze state in the region by far, even with the new 3% extra sales tax on alcohol and the restrictions on getting wine thru the mail.

That's one of the reasons MD has stayed a one-party state - politicians know enough to keep the booze cheap. The extra 3% was the first new alcohol tax since the 1950s.

15
by Dean :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:18pm

To hell with the Walkthroughs about video games and comic books. Charger Wine is the best walkthrough in years. I literally snarfed. And if that's not too much information, I'm a bit under the weather, and all the carbonation cleaned the sinuses out a bit. If it didn't burn so bad it might have been beneficial!

60
by Shattenjager :: Sun, 12/25/2011 - 2:14am

I feel the same way about wine that you feel about video games.

18
by DSG (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:28pm

For most of the Walkthrough I felt like I was reading a parody of TMQ at his most pedantic. I was sad to realize that that wasn't the goal.

27
by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 2:16pm

I got the same feeling from his article in the NYT this week.

21
by Dean :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:38pm

I have to admit, I do wonder why the owner of the local liquor store wouldn't just meet you somewhere to enjoy it, or even drink it in the parking lot out of a paper bag?

22
by glengarry_leads (not verified) :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 1:45pm

my wine shop in Florida's got some repulsive-looking Dan Marino 2006 Chardonnay right this very second. because, you know, the profit margins on 5-year-old generic celebrity endorsed chardonnay are THROUGH THE ROOF, seeing as it's likely undrinkable. we sell a couple bottles a week and you can invariably work out who is going to buy it beforehand if you're paying attention.

ps the Applewood's a solid rec, but there's no way anyone's 'trying to get rid of it' right before Christmas, the stuff basically sells itself when the weather's cold and it ages very well. Morbier and the Poivre Vert do have spoilage issues though and i think everyone in the cheesemongering game (sic) has pushed it out the door from time to time. but there's really no such thing as good cheese to go with heavy-handed california Cabs, though. stuff's hardly wine at all.

39
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 4:41pm

I would think anything that goes with port would go with a big Cab. A blue cheese, or some other form of diseased cheese, perhaps.

47
by TimK :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:42pm

Applewood is a perfectly decent cheese, but over on this side of the Altantic is isn't called a smoked cheese anymore, because they don't actually smoke it, just use some flavouring or another.

A rich blue cheese, or a 9 month plus matured cheddar would go well with a red I think. Parmesan can also be eaten with crackers, if you get the less aged varieties and is nice and robust. I've found the wendsleydale with ginger to be an interesting cheese with light white wines.

35
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 3:35pm

Only resf firsy sentence biut answer is center circld should be square

38
by White Rose Duelist :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 4:40pm

Reading this comment makes me want to see Raiderjoe on an episode of Hollywood Squares.

40
by Dean :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 4:51pm

I thought about posting that he confused George Goebel and Brad Goebel but I figured I'd lose 99% of the readership.

41
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:03pm

It cam as no surprise that the wine was better the second time around, everyone knows that the Chargers usually suck in the autumn but are very good in december.

44
by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:12pm

I'm pretty sure that both the sale and eating of Oreos is a capital offense in France. One thing that they have right, they're vile little things.

45
by tuluse :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:16pm

Hey, there's a McDonald's in the Louvre, I think they lost all rights to banning of any foodstuffs because of that.

46
by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:27pm

It's one of life's finer pleasures, to order the McDonald's vin blanc in Paris and the McDonald's bier in Vienna.

48
by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 5:45pm

Just don't go to a BK in Rome and order a Whopper. They don't like that.

54
by akn :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 12:22am

It's okay, they got around the law by calling it a Royal with Cheese.

52
by Raiderjoe :: Thu, 12/22/2011 - 9:50pm

Nice cookies are nice and remind of France becafusr Nice in Franxe. Maybe get some Mice cookies ay supermarket tomorrow. Wash down with Sierra Nevada

58
by White Rose Duelist :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 10:03am

You're going to need a lot of Sierra Nevada to wash down the mice cookies. And perhaps a bit of morbier.

56
by BywaterBrat :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 6:01am

You get a lot of welll deserved praise Mike and Ive read you for an embarassingly long period of time, all the same this was one of my favorite pieces of writing in a long time.

59
by j dubs (not verified) :: Fri, 12/23/2011 - 4:24pm

Many vintages of Chargers wine, including the 2008, don't taste good until months after opening. So if you open a bottle in September, it's best not to drink it until December.

61
by specq (not verified) :: Tue, 12/27/2011 - 2:14pm

Altoona would like to thank you for the free publicity, but is beginning to pick up a bit of a stalkerish vibe from your columns lately...

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