Wine makers are pleased that evidence demonstrating the health benefits of moderate wine consumption continues to mount. Yet, as the New York Times reports, wine makers can't tell you about it.
The industry has long been handcuffed by state and federal laws that discourage promoting the benefits of wine, with some of those restrictions dating back to the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. . .Ann Althouse notes that winemakers have been reluctant to litigate in defense of positive wine labels or advertising.
"Yes, we'd all like to make hay of this, and we'll do what we can, but we are very constrained," said Michael Mondavi, founder and president of Folio Fine Wine Partners, a producer and importer of wines here.
As an industry that is closely regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, Mr. Mondavi said, "it is blatantly against the law for any alcoholic beverage producers to make any health claim regardless of the facts or the accuracy."
"Until that regulation is changed or modified in some way so that we can talk about the positive health aspects that are proven," said Mr. Mondavi, the older son of famed winemaker Robert Mondavi, "we have to sit on our hands and wait for others to pick up the story."
Others have not been so passive. Several years ago, the Competitive Enterprise Institute sued the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms for its de facto ban on positive health claims about alcoholic beverages, arguing that consumers would benefit from learning more about the helath benefits of moderate consumption.. (See the details of their case here and here.) The case was dismissed as unripe, but I would not be surprised if CEI took another shot.