Bizarre Alcohol Laws Restrict Selling Wines to Liquor Stores
The good news for Tennesseans is that Trader Joe’s has finally arrived in the Volunteer State.
The bad news for Tennesseans is that the state’s arcane liquor laws make it impossible to buy the low-priced gourmet store’s signature item, Two Buck Chuck.
The iconic California grocery store, which has exclusive, mostly healthy items at prices often far less than super markets, has expanded beyond the Golden State. Tennesseans have been exposed to it by friends and relatives and were thrilled when they learned one would be opening in south Knoxville near the busy West Town Mall on the heels of one already open in Nashville.
That is, until they learned that Trader Joe’s will not be allowed to sell Charles Shaw wine, the somewhat mysterious but wildly popular $2 wines affectionately known as “Two Buck Chuck.” (Californians are so hooked on it an that price that when then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed increasing the liquor tax that would have raised the price from $1.98 a bottle to $2.49, they nearly revolted.)
That’s because Tennessee only allows wines to be sold in designated liquor stores. In fact, the only thing in the liquor stores – which are independently-owned businesses, not state-operated ABC stores like they still have in some Southern states – is wine and hard liquor.
The stores are not allowed to carry anything else, period. No bottle openers, no corkscrews, no sodas or mixers, not even so much as cups.
The archaic philosophy behind this is to prevent people from buying, say, a bottle of Jack Daniels and then going out to the car and mixing a drink. As if anyone wanting to do such a thing would not have a Coke and a cup in their car anyway, or simply drive a block to a convenience store to get them.
But wait, I’m just getting started with Tennessee’s bizarre and arcane liquor laws. Grocery stores and convenience stores can carry beer but they can’t sell it on Sundays. And they can’t carry wine or hard liquor. So say you did want a Jack & Coke, you would have to make one stop to get the soda and another to get the JD.
It’s silly, it’s a waste of time and it’s also not doing the good ‘ol USA any favors in helping to reduce our dependency on foreign oil.
There’s another strange law involving bars and restaurants involving minors. If such a business allows smoking, it is designated a “21-and-over” establishment. That means minors are not allowed.
It’s not a bad concept on the surface, but that establishment could be a restaurant/bar, and quite a few people have been caught off-guard when they’ve taken their kids into what they thought was a family restaurant to watch their team’s sporting events, only to be told the minor cannot be inside the place.
I’m sure Tennesseans would gladly trade that privledge, tho, if they could simply get their Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.