Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wine Wednesday: Ironstone Vineyards Obsession

We interrupt our recaps to bring: a return of Wine Wednesday, and a brief rant on the liquor laws in my new state.

I don't think it's telling you too much to say that Econo Boy and I have relocated to the Boston area. (We're American academics, it's sort of inevitable.) There are many things I like about our new home, including the beautiful wine and liquor store that's literally just around the corner (time from front door to wine shop: 3 minutes).

But I cannot stand MA liquor laws! We can't have anything shipped here, taxes on alcohol are through the roof, and to combat underage drinking, some stores only take a MA driver's license as proof of age. I look young, I'm always carded, and I'm OK with that. I respect that there are strict penalties for selling to teenagers. But at 27 years old I hardly expected to have a bottle of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc nastily snatched away from me by a very unpleasant woman at a Costco in Waltham, with the snotty announcement that it would be ILLEGAL to sell to someone offering another state's driver's license as proof of age. Yeesh.

Fortunately, our corner wine store is much friendlier, and didn't bat an eye at our out-of-state licenses. They also stock a wide range of unusual wines, including this one that Econo Boy and I opened the other night: Obsession, from Ironstone Vineyards, made from the Symphony grape (a hybrid of Muscat and Grenache Gris).

Image from

I've started making a point of trying anything that looks "weird," and a grape I'd never heard of in a Riesling-shaped bottle, selling for $9, caught my attention. The wine was juicy, with lots of tropical fruit (pineapple, mango, and even a hint of starfruit), and had a clean finish. It was clearly thoughtfully made. But to be honest, it was a bit sweet for us -- I think we needed a spicier dish than the fairly tame stir-fry we were eating to really stand up to its sugar. I'm not sure if I'd buy it again, but if you like sweeter wines, this one is worth a look.


LPC said...

At least you aren't in Pennsylvania, with the "bottle shops" and beer sold in paper bags at hotel bars.

Julia (Color Me Green) said...

every state's got their quirky liquor laws. i'm sure you'll get used to it in time, except for the whole not being allowed to buy wine with out of state license wtf??

Bride in Exile said...

Julia, that's true -- every state I've lived in has weird liquor laws. In Colorado it's "nothing with over 8% alcohol in grocery stores." In MA, only 3 stores in every chain can have a liquor license. In NJ, grocery stores couldn't sell alcohol at all! I think the Costco thing just got under my skin. That and not being able to have wines shipped from the winery, that's kind of a drag.

LPC, you're right, Pennsylvania definitely wins the "weird liquor laws" contest!

Laura said...

HAHAHAHA, I lived in the Boston area for 8 years and I'm itching to get back....soon! I feel you on the weird liquor laws because I was a lowly college student there with a PA license and no luck because I look 12. BUT you have to remember this is a state with more institutions of higher education than any other and so they have a little bit of a hard time with the extreme number of barely (or not at all) "of age" kids trying to buy for the weekend parties with all sorts of outlandish forms of ID. Just count yourself lucky that you didn't move there when it was still illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays! That required a trip to NH if you ran out of booze Saturday night.

CaitStClair | A Peachy Bride said...

Ugh. That reminds me of when I tried to by a 6-pack for my dad in Texas. Fortunately, I took my cousin with me. First, they didn't want to take my out of state license but I finally convinced them. I say no thanks to a bag and my cousin informs me that it's illegal to go without one. Seriously?! Ok, fine. Waste the paper. So then I climb in the car and put the beer in the back seat. AGAIN my cousin has to inform me that's illegal and it has to go in the trunk. Fine, whatever.
But you want to know the best part about all of this? My cousin wasn't even 21 yet. Way to go Texas!
Oh, and Colorado's gas station and grocery store laws were actually even stricter, nothing over 3.2% ABV. That may have been changed last year when they started allowing Sunday sales though. I'm not really sure.

Bride in Exile said...

Laura, you're of course 100% right about the underage drinking problem. I'm sure that's why stores are squirrely about getting a MA driver's license -- it's just so much easier to fake an obscure out-of-state license than one the clerks look at every day.

Cait, your story about the Texas 6-pack cracked me up! And I think you're right about CO and 3.2%, I don't know where I got 8% from.

Anonymous said...

You should report the customer service person to the Costco manager, because his or her actions were not a result of Mass. liquor laws, but stupidity and arrogance.

Your drivers license, whatever state, is valid in any other state, so it should serve as an adequate ID for age purposes. I have never heard of an out of state license being turned down for such purposes, and I worked for several years in a liquor store.

But you are right. I'm a Mass resident, and the laws are archaic. We should be able to have wines shipped. Call it that Puritanical spirit! Happy marriage.

Bride in Exile said...

Anonymous, that's just what my husband said -- that our driver's licenses were, legally speaking, valid proof of age in any state. The checker's response: "No, they're not." (How very informative and helpful.)

We mentioned the incident to the checker in the regular section of the Costco (we're members) and she reiterated, quite sincerely, that it was a MA state law that only MA IDs were acceptable. I think this is a Costco company policy, but they've schooled their employees to spread the notion that they're just following state law.

Regardless, I don't think I'll be doing much of my wine shopping at Costco once I do have a MA driver's license. I respect the need to avoid selling to teens, but I don't care for being treated like a criminal.

Ellie said...

I see you Massachusetts weird liquor laws and raise you Maryland's.
We have no-ship laws as well, plus the alcohol taxes are really high; and the kicker - you can't sell beer or wine or liquor in grocery stores (or Costco, etc.) anywhere in the state. (With three exceptions I can think of.) Additionally, in some counties the liquor stores are run by the county government; plus you can't sell liquor on Sundays and in Baltimore you can't sell any alcohol.
We fortunately have two liquor stores right around the corner, so the not-selling-in-grocery stores thing isn't so bad; and it's only annoying on Sundays...
I just got back from a summer in Michigan and Maryland's liquor laws now seem painfully puritanical, and the no-ship law is particularly bad now that I've found a bunch of great Michigan wines I would love to have shipped to me!

Bride in Exile said...

Isn't that the worst part of no-ship laws, Ellie -- not being able to get favorite wines from small wineries, I mean? I really wanted to buy a bottle of a special wine we tried in Sonoma a while back, but it's not nationally distributed and we couldn't have it shipped from the winery. Curses!

The really annoying thing is, apparently those no-ship laws keep getting struck down as unconstitutional interference with interstate commerce (or something to that effect -- I'll have to ask my lawyer genius SIL). And yet, states keep passing them. ::sob:: why??