Editorial: Wine issue boils down to democracy

Wine. It’s been around for centuries. It’s used in many recipes for cooking. It can be paired with dishes to create a more delicious dining experience. A glass of wine has no more or less alcohol content than a 12-ounce beer or a shot of whiskey, for that matter.
Jan 12, 2013

Wine. It’s been around for centuries. It’s used in many recipes for cooking. It can be paired with dishes to create a more delicious dining experience. A glass of wine has no more or less alcohol content than a 12-ounce beer or a shot of whiskey, for that matter.
So why shouldn’t it be available in grocery stores to home cooks, connoisseurs or basically anyone who enjoys a glass?
That’s the question before the Tennessee General Assembly as it begins its 108th legislative session this week. But it’s nothing new, but past efforts have not made it out of committee.
But with the measure attached to a referendum – requiring approval from voters – this year may be the one where we see the issue of whether to allow wine to be sold alongside beer in grocery stores across Tennessee on ballots.
Arguments for and against allowing wine to be sold in grocery stores were heard Friday on the front page of The Democrat. Both sides have pretty convincing arguments.
Many city leaders in Mt. Juliet, which saw package liquor sales overwhelming supported by voters in November, believe the measure would pass statewide if brought up for vote.
“It’s clear with this last vote that package liquor stores passed overwhelmingly,” Mt. Juliet Vice Mayor James Maness said. “I don’t see how selling wine in grocery stores is any different.”
On the law enforcement side of government, however, things are seen differently.
Mt. Juliet Public Safety Director Andy Garrett said in Tennessee the state government regulates such things. He said teenagers are not allowed in liquor stores, and there might be an increase in shoplifting if wine was sold in grocery stores.
“Anytime you change the quality of life in a city, it puts a burden on the police department,” he said.
And in the business community, there remains still another argument.
Brooke Porter Hawkins is the owner of Market Basket Wine and Spirits in Lebanon. The business has been in the family for more than 20 years. She’s concerned about the possibility of wine sold at the grocery store.
“We are a small, family-owned business,” she said. “It could hurt our wine sales up to 30 percent.”
Hawkins said profits from her store stay in the state, but large grocery stores in the area are based in other states.
“We give back to our state in jobs, charitable donations and more than $200,000 million in taxes,” she said.
Though the issue for some seems to be a no brainer, there remains arguments to the contrary that might not be considered until heard. There are, in fact, several layers to this argument.
Ultimately, it’s our belief democracy should prevail, and the issue of whether to sell wine in grocery stores should be brought before the people in the form of a vote.
But just as any issue or person appearing on a ballot, careful consideration should be given before casting a vote.
After all, no one can make an informed decision without all the facts.

 

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