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Friday, August 22, 2014

Wine group gives NH a thumbs-up for making it easy to buy beverage

The lobbying arm of the wine industry puts New Hampshire at the head of the class because we make it easy to find and buy the fruit of the grape.

“No state treats wine consumers better than New Hampshire, given its laws that provide outstanding access to wine and its laws that provide wine lovers with great convenience,” said the American Wine Consumer Coalition in its report, “Consuming Concerns: The 2013 State-by-State Report Card On Consumer Access To Wine.” ...

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The lobbying arm of the wine industry puts New Hampshire at the head of the class because we make it easy to find and buy the fruit of the grape.

“No state treats wine consumers better than New Hampshire, given its laws that provide outstanding access to wine and its laws that provide wine lovers with great convenience,” said the American Wine Consumer Coalition in its report, “Consuming Concerns: The 2013 State-by-State Report Card On Consumer Access To Wine.”

New Hampshire got an A-plus grade and was ranked the No. 1 state in the group’s list.

The coalition group liked the fact that wine isn’t limited to state liquor stores but can be bought all over the place and even shipped to consumers; it liked our lack of blue laws; and it liked the fact that you can bring your own bottle into restaurants.

Massachusetts, by contrast, got an F grade, since it forbids wine from being sold in grocery stores and won’t allow it to be shipped. The Bay State also limits bring-your-own-bottle to restaurants that lack a liquor license.

Vermont and Maine both got C grades.

A Washington Post report that drew attention to the study noted that five other states also got an A-plus grade, but that New Hampshire wins, because unlike the other A-plus states we don’t tax wine.

The article made a common error, however, thinking that New Hampshire’s high per-capita sales of alcohol means we drink a lot: “Granite Staters down 19.6 liters of wine per capita each year, the highest consumption rate of any state and second only to the District of Columbia,” said the Aug. 15 story.

As everybody here knows, much of the New Hampshire’s liquor sales go to out-of-staters drawn by that very lack of tax. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission estimates that about 50 percent of its store sales are to out-of-staters, although it’s hard to know if that figure holds for wine sales at grocery stores and convenience shops.