by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte)
It seems to me that this campaign has gone down to the wire with no one discussing what is obviously the most pressing problem facing the nation (or at least me), namely the future prosperity of the wine industry.
It seems to me that the candidates should be more forthcoming on some of the subjects that are of such importance.
So if someone wants my vote (and that of the all-important wine industry block), I would suggest the following proposals:
Reduce wine taxes. No. Eliminate wine taxes. That would cause people to buy more of what is certainly a health – benefiting product (you only have to look at the 50% of the studies on the subject to know that this is the case) and less of those other products (e.g., soda) that don’t contain any alcohol. It would certainly help my bottom line as well.
Get rid of the TTB. That’s the Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates wine. God, how I hate to submit a wine label for approval. It’s like playing roulette in Vegas. You submit the same label twice. Once it’s shot down for some bizarre reason. The next time it sails right through. Well, I guess that’s something of an exaggeration, since nothing sails through the TTB. Actually, I’ve heard that the TTB, due to manpower shortages, is starting to approve wine labels without even taking a look at them, just issuing a warning against your doing anything unlawful in your label. So I guess that probably speeds up the approval process, though I’m not all that certain even of that. But junking the TTB altogether would be a better solution all around.
While you’re getting rid of the TTB, do the same for the 50 alcohol control boards that make life miserable for everyone in the industry. I can’t begin to imagine how many well-intentioned vintners have committed some felony or another as they have tried to move their goods into some state or another. If eliminating all 50 is too radical, let me nominate Georgia for the state deserving to be the first one to be led to the chopping block. That’s based solely on my being peeved at having to fill out a multi-page application including such pertinent information as my mother’s address and phone number.
Also, I would expect all candidates deserving of my endorsement to come out firmly against the neo-prohibitionist idiocy that is sweeping parts of the country.
Finally, I would expect that any viable candidate should be forthcoming about his wine habits. In this regard, I’d have to give Romney credit for letting us know where he stands (doesn’t drink), though I’d have to give him a demerit for, well, getting the answer wrong.
Already knowing what Romany’s personal habits were when it came to drinking, I decided I would investigate Obama’s habits and preferences. I would say right out of the box that I think most politicians would rather be caught photographed with their mistresses than with a glass of wine in their hands. How would that play in Detroit? No, beer seems to be the drink of preference (at least for photo-op purposes) for presidential candidates (unless, of course, you’re Romney).
At any rate, I plugged “Obama wine” into Google to see what would come up.
At the top of the Google page, it said “About 367,000,000 results”. I really thought I’d hit the jackpot. I would never have guessed than there were a third of billion hits concerning Obama and wine.
Sadly, the results were disappointing. The first hit was a link to the Obama for President website, but I found nothing there about wine.
The second hit was a bit more interesting. Apparently, the White House used to release information concerning the wines served at state dinners, but ceased the practice after it got some unwanted publicity concerning the high-priced wines it was serving. I can’t believe it. You would think any presidential candidate interested in winning the wine-industry vote would want to parade the list of fine wines he serves.
The third hit made much the same point, but it actually had a picture of Obama with a wine glass in his hand. I don’t’ know how the White House press office let that happen. I’m sure it later got air-brushed into a glass of beer, but I guess I don’t’ really know that for sure.
The fourth hit was the most interesting. Entitled, “What wines do the Obama’s drink? We need to know!”, it in fact shed some light on this important but neglected subject. After noting that Obama has a 1000 bottle wine cellars (contents undisclosed, but a good start nonetheless), a staple at the Obama house turns out to be, of all things, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay. How could he? Even I would rather drink beer.
The rest of the post wasn’t as much of downer. They even served an Golden Eye Pinot Noir, which certainly shows they have some taste.
After that, I wasn’t up to going to the next 366,999,996 (if I did my math right) hits, but you get the idea.
As far as I know, Obama hasn’t endorsed any of the above proposals that would win my vote. But then again, neither has Romney.
But, like so many Americans, I want a president I can identify with, even if I can’t think of a good reason why. And I’d feel a whole lot more comfortable sitting down and having a glass of wine with Obama than with Romney, if only because his not even taking a sip while I guzzle away would make things a little uncomfortable.
So there you have it. A vote for Obama. But Romney still has time to propose abolition of the TTB, so maybe it’s not too late after all. Of course, I vote in California, not Ohio, so why should he care?