Some random ramblings while wondering about the current temperature in Hades with the election of a Republican U.S. senator in Massachusetts and our beloved black and gold just one game away from a Super Bowl berth:

What Are They Thinking?
Seems those industrious yet reserved citizens of Maine don’t have much to worry about these days.

The Maine Legislature passed a law that requires wine shops and specialty stores to hang curtains blocking the view through their shop windows. Is it about aesthetics? Hardly.

They don’t want children who may unwittingly walk past the shops to see wine tastings. And we all know what horrible things go on at a wine tasting. Any child seeing such goings-on will of course be scarred for life.

This is not the first time the alcohol laws in Maine have driven lawmakers and bureaucrats to invoke odd solutions to non-problems. At one point recently, a winery in Maine was actually told by a state liquor inspector to become a … (wait for it) … brewery.

Seems another brewery had a licensing problem, so the only solution that made sense and was fair to all parties in the eyes of the inspector was to tell Winterport Winery that they should purchase beer-making apparatus in order to keep their liquor license.

Maine, just in case you were wondering how all this really got started, was the first state in the nation to enact a Prohibition Law, back in 1846. And they are still living that mistake with a dizzying array of convoluted court rulings and old laws still on the books.

Makes you glad you live in an “enlightened” place, doesn’t it? Enlightened, at least, when it comes to adult beverages.

Along Those Same Lines
The state of Colorado has threatened to shut down that state’s largest liquor store, DaveCo Liquors in Thornton.

The state claims that the owners of DaveCo violated state laws because the same family owns a liquor store in Highlands Ranch. Colorado does not allow one family to own more than one alcohol outlet.

First of all, why should the state care if they do or don’t have some common ownership? Secondly, according to DaveCo’s attorney, it’s not true that the two stores have common ownership.

A court-appointed arbiter will hear both sides and make a decision.

Just When You Thought…
With the breakdown in the world economy and the lagging sales of high-end wines from Bordeaux, it finally looked as if there would be some pricing relief for thirsty consumers.

The Bordelaise were doing some significant price retrenching as demand last year slipped, and there is a lot of product out there on shelves and in warehouses looking for a home.

Now, up step the Chinese, who have suddenly developed a taste for grand wines from French châteaux. The French expect that orders for the en primeur wines will be almost literally flowing into the offices of wine traders in Bordeaux. En primeur are recent vintages of higher-priced wines that will be released in two or three years but are sold to customers now and held by the winery until the release date.

Right now, more than $800,000 a day in orders are being taken by the premier Bordeaux wine trader, Wine Index, from the Far East and China. The reason for the incredible ramp-up in orders: the upcoming Chinese New Year, the Year of the Tiger.

Based on these sales and all indications of a new appreciation for fine wine, you can expect the Chinese to be very serious buyers and consumers of great wines from now and well into the foreseeable future.

Odd, Isn’t It?
So the demand for fine wine goes up in one part of the world, and you would think that would cause doors to open for another part of the winemaking world. It doesn’t seem so.

Australia (what happened to these guys?) has an oversupply of 100 million cases of wine, according to a new report released conjunctively by Australia’s four main industry organizations.

The report further states that 17 percent of Australia’s vineyards are uneconomical. Couple that with the fact that the oversupply of Australian wine worldwide is 75 percent of the current total production, or the entire amount of annual exports to Great Britain, the largest market by far for Australian wine.

What the four industry groups propose is to entirely restructure the Australian wine industry, making drastic cuts to every segment.

Meanwhile, there is a movement afoot in the Land Down Under to disrupt the imports of the largest-selling white wine in Australia, which is New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

Does anyone in that nation/island see potential solutions, which are two-fold: make better, more interesting wines and plant more sauvignon blanc for their own citizens to consume?

Probably way too simple.

Incidentally, the prime minister of Australia’s official wine cellar list has been released, and it’s full of whites –– not just any whites but viognier and New Zealand sauvignon blanc.

One wine-and-food writer called the cellar “grounds for treason.”

Again, work with me here: If we are a wine-producing nation and if we have a glut and have a preference for some other country’s white wine and the prime minister is a living example of the problem, then the solution can’t be too difficult, can it?