I try to keep most politics out of the blog, but occasionally there are things that directly affect not just our friends in the wine industry, but those of us buying the wine.
We all enjoy buying wine in Kentucky, as the prices certainly can't be beat. Well, HB 166 proposes raising the liquor tax by 6%, to an overall total of 17%. A distributor told me today that right now, before this tax increase, we are already paying 53% in taxes – whether on a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer. 53% ! That's crazy! In fact, it's one of the highest in the nation. So imagine adding another 6% on to that. In order to make money, our favorite retailers are going to have to raise prices.
Take that one step further – a tax increase like this is going to greatly hurt all of our favorite retailers here in Northern Kentucky. Border stores, like those here and in Louisville, will feel the pain of having to raise prices. It's bad enough that everyone is being forced to raise prices here and there because the dollar is bad and imports are now more expensive. Now we're going force them to raise prices from within the state?
I've long known Kentucky's wine and liquor laws were a bit backwards and, in many cases, appear to be left over from Prohibition. Heaven knows, it's next to impossible to ship anything in or out of this state. This is just one more example of hurting ourselves and employing the 1930s-era mentality of taxing the sinners.
Let's look at coal for a minute. We don't mine coal here in Northern Ky, but we don't see the money from the coal taxes either. About half of the money from coal taxes stay in the counties that mine the coal. Do the work, reap the benefits. Representative Steve Riggs believes it should work this way with alcohol taxes as well. Last year, alcohol taxes provided $115 million in state revenue. Riggs has proposed an amendment to HB 166 that keeps the money from the tax increase in the wet counties. After all, if HB 166 passes – without the amendment – then those dry counties reap the benefits from the money we're all spending.
Of course, ideally, the bill won't pass at all. Maybe the dry counties will be so upset by the amendment that they'll vote against the bill. My fear is that they'll get rid of the amendment, pass the bill, and the dry counties will reap the benefits of my – and your – dollars. We don't want the bill to pass in any form.
There are so many other ways to raise money other than taxing something that is a) already overtaxed, b) brings in business from neighboring states, and c) singles out certain people within the state.
Hey, I know! Why don't we build a casino in one of the buildings Columbia Sussex has bought, waiting for a casino. We're constantly losing that money to Indiana. Instead of continuing to tax the rest of us, how about finally passing a casino bill and making money that way.
I'm not really cheering on 59% in taxes on a bottle of $14 wine.
Feel free to write our local congressmen. Happily you can just send them an email – I did. You can also view the letter from Liquor Direct's Kevin Keith. Finally, you can just call our legislature at 1-800-372-7181. My own letter is after the jump.
George Bush wasn't exactly a fan of fine wine, and his staff tended to serve the wrong (read: super expensive) wine at the wrong time (read: economic collapse). The Obamas, on the other hand, enjoy a nice glass of wine. In fact, their Chicago home reportedly has a wine cellar that holds up to 1,000 bottles.
According to Forbes, the Inaugural Luncheon served a 2007 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc (est $30) and a 2005 Goldeneye Pinot Noir (est $50). Duckhorn is also responsible for Goldeneye.
The one that surprised me, however, was a NV Korbel Natural Sparkling Wine (est $14). Really, I think they could have stretched their wings a little on that sparkler. Even staying domestic, they could have gone for a reasonably priced Chandon, Domaine Carneros, or Gloria Ferrer and still easily stayed under $50 a bottle. Personally, I don't like to skimp on my bubbly.
Thanks to the economy, sales of wine are dropping like flies. Obviously, Kevin & I can't support the wine-economy alone. But the wine industry is hoping that having wine drinkers in the White House will make a positive impresssion on those of you hesitant to spend your money on wine.
I'm not really the New Year's resolution type. Rather, I make them every year and every year I forget about them shortly thereafter. But I thought I'd give it another shot this year:
1. Get fit. I don't want to say "lose weight" but I do want to get healthy. In that spirit, I'm returning to my Autumn '08 strategy of giving up beer and dessert so that I can keep wine.
2. Get my side business actually working. There's a little ad over in the column. That way —>.
It mentions home tastings. I've never really announced it here on the blog, but I do offer this service and it's a heck of a lot of fun. I'd love to do it more often.
3. Figure out my day job. Since working with technology and wine does not seem to be an option for me here in Cincinnati, I need to figure out what to do with myself. Do I want a "real" job or continue as a freelance social media consultant? Is there even a "real" job out there in social media?
4. Figure out if any of the local print rags might want a freelance wine columnist. Anyone with tips on how to do that, please let me know!
5. This is the big one. I'm going to order the study guide, study for, and take the test for my Certified Wine Educator's certificate. Its not much, but since any test gives me a panic attack (no joke), it's a big deal for me.
Do you have any food and wine related resolutions? Restaurants you have to try? Foods you want to discover?
Let us know in the comments
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