Wine Talk

Snooth User: John Andrews

You can't do that in New York ...

Posted by John Andrews, Dec 23, 2008.

Apparently, it is illegal to sell wine gift bags in the same place as you sell wine. Does this sound as absurd to you as it does to me?

http://www.9wsyr.com/news/local/sto...

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Replies

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 23, 2008.

Thanks for the heads up.
I guess I am not selling gift bags anymore!

I love our state's freakishly charming laws. It is truly ridiculous that wine gift bags are not considered wine accessories like corkscrews and glasses.

I wonder where the SLA stands on the dreaded scourge that's sweeping the nation's bottle shops: wine glass charms!

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Reply by Adam Levin, Dec 23, 2008.

What exactly legally distinguishes a gift bag from a brown paper bag?

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Dec 23, 2008.

Have you ever heard the phrase "gift baggin' it"?

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 23, 2008.

Adam - the problem is that the stores don't sell brown paper bags...

By this same logic, this probably prevents stores from rewarding people for bringing their own bags.

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Reply by gr, Dec 23, 2008.

Okay, I've got the solution: locate directly on a state border (CT would be closer to the City, but PA would go for middle-fingering two idiotic state laws in one fell swoop), then sell wine in NY and bags in the other state.

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 23, 2008.

Or do what Costco does in NY (with a teeny liquor store next to their superstore)... and open a separate store right next door to sell bags.

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Reply by RachelNYC, Dec 23, 2008.

Or just put a bow on the bottle...

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Reply by John Andrews, Dec 23, 2008.

So what happens if (when) NY State passes the law that grocery stores can sell wine. Does that mean that they have to get rid of their gift bags? I see a new opportunity ... 'Wine Gift Bags'r'us".

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 23, 2008.

Well, as it stands right now, grocery stores CAN sell wine... if they stop selling anything not wine related. I would imagine that this new law would by allowing grocery stores to sell wine would mean that all wine shops could sell wine bags.

Take a look at our friends at: http://www.giordanowines.com
All their items with food aren't available in NY.

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Reply by fibo86, Dec 23, 2008.

@ Mark is there some American slang that gift baggin means something completely different?
(have to ask as we have lots of slang here and it can mean many things)

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Reply by fibo86, Dec 23, 2008.

All that aside is this a new law or old? and what other crazy laws do you have re: alcohol?

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Reply by Philip James, Dec 23, 2008.

I just read this story today - and couldnt believe it. Its almost as bad as the Kentucky law which states that unaccompanied chickens cannot cross the road

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 24, 2008.

I think Tennessee still has the best silly laws including:

No driving while asleep.
It is forbidden to sell hollow logs.
Women may not ask men out on dates.
You must not use a lasso to catch fish.
Frogs may not croak after 11pm.
No eating ice cream on the sidewalk
It is illegal to take unfinished pie home - all pie must be consumed on the premises.
A $10 permit is required to panhandle.
A house with more than 9 or more women living in it is considered a brothel.
You cannot hunt from a moving automobile, but an exception is granted for shooting whales .

And, of course, in Lenoir City, TN: you must fire a gun out the window of your car at every stop sign as a warning to oncoming carriages.

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Reply by Philip James, Dec 24, 2008.

OK, those are fantastic!

At Oxford University, when you first turn up you need to sign a declaration stating, amongst other things, that you promise not to drive sheep through the library, nor to raise demons on the grounds!

I presume both of those things are legal in NY State wine stores?

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Dec 24, 2008.

Totally legit in NY state wine stores.

In fact, I plan on doing both this afternoon.

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Reply by gr, Dec 24, 2008.

While driving them through the store may not be technically illegal, I don't believe you're allowed to keep sheep in most portions of NYC...

Some alcohol-specific state law examples for our friend from Down Under. In many formerly Puritan states in the northeastern US corridor, there are remnants of Blue Laws, such as:

- Wine and liquor are sold only in State- or Commonwealth- (in the case of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, two of the prime offenders here) owned stores (yes, a state monopoly). Several other states used to do this but have backed away from it (Ohio, for example). Yes, this means there's a hefty tax on wine and liquor in PA. Yes, that means I periodically go to Delaware or New Jersey and shop in bulk. Yes, if I were caught they would, at least, require me to pay the missing PA taxes and a fine.
- The PA "Wine and Spirits Shoppes" (the name for the state store in PA) do NOT sell beer. You have to go somewhere else for that.
- It's also not legal to ship wine direct to consumers in PA (which may be on the way to changing: arguably, this is protectionist behavior favoring PA wineries over out-of-state ones, and the federal government's been at least bandied about as having relevance because it oversees interstate commerce). You CAN ship wine to consumers, but it arrives at the state store of their choice (or nearest their home, or something) where they pick it up and dutifully pay the tax. RBoulanger could fill in the details on this better, though, since his company has PA out-of-state wine sales license 00000001 (or however many digits they are).
- It only recently (within the last five years) became legal to purchase alcohol on Sunday in PA. It was possible to buy beer in some places, but only if that place was also a restaurant and had the appropriate carry-out license.
- ... but very few PA state stores *are* open on Sunday - there's only one that I can think of in Center City Philadelphia (Chestnut between 12th & 13th; also probably the state store with the widest and best selection).
- The places that have those carry-out licenses aren't allowed to sell by the case, only by six packs.
- Although you can buy as many six packs as you like at the carry-out joints, you're only allowed to walk out the door with two at a time. No, there is apparently no "per customer" limit, just that you can't exit the premises carrying more than two six packs. Perhaps they were worried I would throw out my back?

I thought I had a longer list than this... surely, RBoulanger could offer a few more up...

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Reply by gr, Dec 24, 2008.

Oh, also, fibo86: Mark's "gift baggin' it" is a reference to "brown baggin' it", or keeping booze in a brown bag so that it's not immediately obvious what you're drinking. People do this to get around open container laws. (And it's tacitly accepted by police in most place: they've got better things to do than arrest you for sitting on your stoop to drink rather than inside.)

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Reply by Philip James, Dec 24, 2008.

I spoke to the owners of my local wine store an hour ago, they were still displaying wine bags for sale. I mentioned the Rochester instance to them and they said they wouldnt take down their display, but they were interested in hearing as much as I could tell them about the background.

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Reply by Eric Guido, Dec 27, 2008.

If this is illegal then I can already think of two major wine retailers that are breaking the law.

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Dec 29, 2008.

@fibo -- yep, gr hit the nail on the head. "brown baggin' it".

I figure if Santa Claus were caught breaking the open container laws, he'd be drinking alcohol out of a fancy gift bag. Although, some of the gift bags I saw this holiday season make me wary of the whole business. Brown bags are downright classy next to some of those tacky bags.

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