Bottle Stoppers

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Last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned New York's restrictions on wine shipments, the state legislature changed the law so consumers can order directly from out-of-state wineries. But the New York State Liquor Authority seems to be dragging its feet in implementing the new law. On Friday The New York Times reported the agency initially insisted that package carriers accustomed to using hand-held computers for deliveries fill out a paper form when they deliver wine:

"No one has ever come up with as convoluted a signature gathering and reporting requirement as the State of New York originally proposed," said Steve Gross, director of state relations for the Wine Institute, a trade group of several hundred wine growers that has been involved in the talks with New York officials over the issue….

The form requires the delivery person to fill out by hand the name and address of the shipping company, a license number of the shipping company and a number assigned for the particular delivery, as well as the name of the winery, a shipping number for the winery, the winery's license number and the winery's address. Then the deliverer must fill out the name and address of the person receiving the shipment as well as information describing the kind of identification presented, and the time and date of delivery. The signature of the recipient is also required.

[A Liquor Authority spokeswoman] would not comment on the form, other than to say, "we have to adhere to the law."

But the law that went into effect in July does not appear to require such paper documentation. It does "require a recipient to sign an electronic or paper form or other acknowledgment of receipt, as approved by the authority," as well as present identification establishing that he or she is 21 or older.

[A UPS spokewoman] said that getting the signature and identification was already required. "All of the other states will accept our procedures and verification that we do."

Apparently UPS and New York's booze bureaucrats have come to an understanding. On Friday the Liquor Authority announced that UPS had been approved as a wine carrier.