Food, beer, and bags in NY wine stores – a plea in the NYT

wine hangs The budget battle in Albany looms on the calendar–and with it a decision for a possible overhaul of New York wine retail law that would expand wine sales to supermarkets. (See backgrounders here and here.)

In an op-ed in yesterday’s NYT, wine shop owner Marco Pasanella makes the case that he and other independent shops should be allowed to expand to have more than one location and be able to sell bread, cheese, microbrews, and, yes, recyclable bags, which they are not allowed to currently sell. I’ll drink to that! In fact, it is absurd that this corollary is not in the proposed reform legislation and should be corrected immediately.

I stopped by Pasanella & Son last week for a book signing. It is a handsome shop with an antique Fiat on the floor; the wine selection is excellent. The staff did a fantastic job setting up the event and it was great to see so many people, particularly from the neighborhood turn out. In his op-ed, Marco says that the staff at a local shop will remember a customer’s name. In fact, one woman there that evening told me that the staff member actually remembered which wine she had bought on her previous visit when she couldn’t. Bet that won’t happen at D’Agostino.

Also check out their clever and popular free wine and movie nights, Sip ‘n Cinema!

If You Sell Wine, Then Let Me Sell Cheese” -NYT op-ed
New York City wine shops, a map

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11 Responses to “Food, beer, and bags in NY wine stores – a plea in the NYT”


  1. Marco Pasanella is right: his store ought to be considered a store, not a source of the forbidden and shameful–which is the intent (and often the effect) of all the restrictions laid on wineshops and liquor stores. Let him sell what he wants if the state’s going to let grocers sell wine. The essential inequity here is one reason wine retailers oppose direct-shipping from out of state. Who can blame them? What consumers are asking for–and everything state legislators propose–threatens their livelihood.


  2. That’s one of the charms of a local wine shop such as Marco’s. It’s those efforts like remembering a name and wine which will allow independent shops to weather supermarkets carrying wine. I hope his requests are added to the current legislation. I looked at the Sip N’ Cinema night and it looks absolutely fun–I don’t know any supermarkets that do that.


  3. I am always amazed that selling wine has all these wacky rules that you’d think we were talking something horrible and not something that adds to discourse and enlivens a meal.
    Marco sounds like a man with a plan that will zoom right along, what I didn’t know when I’ve written in past posts that the N.Y. law was only one way(helping super markets) How can any rational person think that bags,cheese, bread, crackers or what have you are some voodoo in a wine shop.
    Tyler who do we need to squeeze, all my family is up north and I’ll even send a missive or 5.
    This is Bullshit!


  4. Yet another example of Dysfunction Nation. Legacy absurdities (State Priority on Alcohol regulation) such as the 21st(?) Amendment are just one of many aspects of common sense and simple fairness that we are apparently incapable of handling. We as a nation are burdened and hobbled by antiquated agendas perpetuated by money and special interests at the expense of a fair, mature and functional society. This is not the only manifestation.


  5. Yet another example of Dysfunction Nation. Legacy absurdities (State Priority on Alcohol regulation) such as the 21st(?) Amendment are just one of many aspects of common sense and simple fairness that we are apparently incapable of handling. We as a nation are burdened and hobbled by antiquated agendas perpetuated by money and special interests at the expense of a fair, mature and functional society. This is not the only manifestation.
    OH! You’re my new favorite blogger fyi


  6. It is absurd that small wine shops are so strictly limited in what they can sell. If they were able to sell more items and perhaps offer small tasting events, people would frequent the shops more and the independent shops would be less likely to close due to competition from grocery stores.

    According to a winery owner we spoke with last week, there are a number of small wineries in New York who oppose allowing grocery stores to sell wine. They believe this will force the independent shops to close. These small wineries depend upon selling their wines to independent shops. If the independents go out of business, that will hurt the small wineries – so no one wins. Legislation needs to be passed that will make the wineries, stores and consumers all winners. However, I am not going to hold my breath….


  7. Mr. Pasanella is 100% correct. In arguing against the current NY State proposal to allow wine sales in supermarkets, most of us are totally ignoring the pandora’s box that proposing the expansion of wine sales has opened. There are many NT laws that have been on the books since 1933 that must be changed or else the supermarket proposal will never become law…NY retailers must be allowed to own multiple stores; must be allowed to sell whatever a supermarket can sell – like cheese, gourmet items, prepared foods, recyclable bags,etc and there is a litany of other laws that currently restrict what can and cannot be sold in wine stores. If wine is to be sold to supermarkets in NY, then we have to change not one, but about a dozen laws regulating wine sales in NY, that have been on the books since 1933. Good luck accomplishing that in Albany. This proposal was DOA…it is sad that I have yet to see a very good in depth analysis that negates even the remote possibility that the current proposal passes…ain’t gonna happen! Once we take into account the number of rules, laws and regulations that would have to change in order for the current proposal to be equitable and constitutional, I just don’t see the will or the way – knowing how Albany works – to allow wine sales in NY supermarkets.


  8. Being that my parents, own a wine and liquor store, I am NOT in favor of this legislation. Allowing supermarkets to sell wine would result in many small retailers and mom-and-pop stores to shut their doors, leaving those business owners out of job. Whereas regardless if the new legislation is passed, supermarkets will be able to stand on their two feet. Wine and Liquor stores have already various legislations against them – no beer, no cigarettes, etc.

    My parents have been in this business for over 20 years, and it is all they own and know. It is really distrubing to be that something that they have built from scratch with great passion will be gone, and they will be left with no line of work. Please vote against supermarkets selling wine.


  9. In the pre-cell phone days, I sent my newly 21 year-old daughter to “our” liquor store to pick up some wine for dinner.

    As she stood bewildered before the wall of reds, Danny, the owner, came up to here and asked her if she needed any help. In explaining her plight, she mentioned her parents and red wine. Based on those scraps of info, Danny figured out who our daughter was and sent her on her way with a bottle of one of our favorite mid-range Cabs.

    Let’s see a Wal-Mart greeter pull that one off.


  10. The question of wine for sale in supermarkets is now dead – for the time being, but in the aftermath the consumer will be the one to pay for this political jeopardy – as always. Since the powers that be that paid the lobbyists to ensure that this budget proposal would never pass are probably closely affiliated with the governing body of our State Liquor Authority we are now in the middle of a tit-for-tat political war being waged between the old (the SLA and monopolistic state laws that ensure the profitability of a very few of the state’s largest liquor and wine Distributors) and the nouveau without money (Albany and the Governor). Soon after the budget proposal was publicly quashed the State Liquor Authority’s offices were raided by the Fraud Squad. Seems that some individuals were using their authority to sell liquor licenses without the pre-requisite hearings, investigations and back-handers that are presently the rule. Strike one for the Nouveau without Money side. Beginning May 1 the Governor will increase the taxes on wine and spirits. Strike two for the NWM. On May 1 every licensee with a wine and liquor license will be required to run an inventory report and then pay a “floor tax’ on every gallon of juice in inventory. Strike a home run for the NWM.
    What a shame all those opposed to giving the individual the right to choose where they buy their wine, and their cheese, and their baguette didn’t look to the consequences of their protectionist actions.
    I own a boutique wine store and would have loved to be able to serve my customers with an array of produce hat they have every right to buy from me. Would discount wines stores and their like have disappeared? Possibly? Would more boutique stores have opened – those willing to remember their customers’ names, their likes and their dislikes? Probably. Would we have seen a rise in taxes, duty, floor tax? I doubt it.
    Since the age of Prohibition the laws surrounding the sale and distribution of wine and spirits in NYS have been protectionist and unconstitutional. Changing laws like these will not be easy and casualties will ensue, but isn’t that why we fought a revolution?


  11. This is a great idea that would ensure that teens could easily obtain wine, as well as the beer & cigarettes that thier friends already sell them when they go to the supermarket. Congrats on a bill that will not only drive small business owners out, but will help ensure that we maintain our high teen DWI death rate!


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