Sour wine: A consumer group gives the Pa. monopoly an F

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Apologists for Pennsylvania's government liquor monopoly keep pushing "reform" instead of privatization, but there's new proof that more incremental change is not enough.

The American Wine Consumer Coalition, in a comparison of state policies for wine buyer friendliness, graded Pennsylvania an F. Released last Wednesday, the report, based on a national survey of 1,000 wine consumers, said, "Pennsylvania wine lovers suffer under some of the most onerous wine laws in America."

No one needs to remind Pennsylvanians of how their system, rooted in the post-Prohibition era, fails compared to the grown-up approach taken by other states. The report faulted the state for its total government control, "depriving Pennsylvania wine lovers of the benefits of free trade and the better selection and pricing it allows."

It also deplored Pennsylvania's prohibition on wine being shipped directly to consumers from wineries and wine retailers, and it criticized the state for not allowing the purchase of wine in grocery stores and other retail outlets not run by the government.

Sure, some supermarkets in Pennsylvania have separate stores within them run by the state Liquor Control Board, but that's typical of what passes for "reform" in Pennsylvania -- half-measures in limited locations thrown as a sop to consumers who only want to be treated as adults.

The nine states that earned an A from the wine coalition have true, direct and widespread sales of wine in grocery stores -- which Pennsylvanians can only dream of.

This F for the state liquor monopoly, along with a national rank of 48th, is no surprise. It's more evidence that the state-store worker unions and the Democratic legislators who defend the system are out of step with not only the times but also consumer desires.

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