This week’s wine news: Utah makes it a crime to have wine with dinner, plus Australia restricts wine sales, and Italian wine thieves
• Utah drunk driving: Utah’s new legal drinking limit – the toughest in the country – will turn almost anyone who has a couple of glasses of wine with dinner into a criminal. How else to explain the state’s .05 limit, which translates to drinking two glass of wine for an ordinary sized man and one glass of wine for an ordinary sized woman? We’ve written about this before, part of the Neo-Prohibitionist movement to restrict drinking by focusing on health, and what’s more health-related than drunk driving? That it will criminalize legal behavior – “Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation,” said one ad opposing the law – doesn’t seem to bother them. Ironically, phone calls to the governor of the predominantly Mormon state, and Mormons aren’t supposed to drink, ran 9 to 1 against the law.
• Not just in the U.S.: Costco, the world’s largest wine retailer, not only has to endure our old pal the three-tier system in the U.S., but an Australian version as well. It can’t sell alcohol in the state of South Australia, even though it sells wine in three other Aussie states. I can’t quite figure out why, though there seems to be opposition from other retailers as well as more restrictive licensing in the state.
• Gotcha! Italian police have broken up a crime gang in northern Italy, but only after they stole 16,000 bottles of fine wine, worth around €100,000 (US$108,000), as well as €80,000 (US$87,000) worth of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and an undisclosed amount of Modea balsamic vinegar. Police launched Operation Wine and Cheese, as it was called, following a series of high-value food thefts between 2015 and 2016. The thefts are quite common in Italy, and especially for the pricey Parmigiano-Reggiano.