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Editors Note: since this category's inclusion, the rules for interstate wine purchases in the USA have finally "mellowed."

Meanwhile, see below for more on what all the fuss was about leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court decision, which finally struck down Prohibition-era wine laws that had - up until 2005 - prevented interstate wine sales...

There are many local laws and restrictions that govern the sale of alcohol both on and off line. Some laws are aimed at protecting youth from alcohol. Some regulations govern the way wines can be produced, the amount of alcohol and the use of additives in the wine making and bottling processes to safeguard consumers. Many target foreign wines to protect the grape growers and wine producers.

Many laws are in place to protect an appellation or guard a regional reputation. Familiar ones are that sparkling wines not from the Champagne region of France may not call themselves champagne and that a merlot that was not grown and bottled in Bordeaux cannot claim the regional name. The winegrowers in California's Napa Valley are protected against other's use of their regional name on wine labels. These Appellation contrôlée (AC) laws are strictly enforced in Europe and have generated quite a bit of friction between old world and new world wine makers. Wines such as California and New York State Champagnes make EU winemakers see red.

In America, federal regulations that restrict wine shipments between states have spawned very vocal consumer protest.

The Internet has added a spin to the controversy: shoppers nationwide are accustomed to the convenience of online ordering and shipping. Meanwhile, the rules are clouded by some states - but not all - having reciprocal shipping agreements. Join the fray as the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America shout 'protect our youth!' while consumers argue for free wine trade from Maine to California....

More about wine laws & regulations around the Web:

Free the Grapes!
- Consumer groups and wine associations team up to do battle in a position statement and summary, an automatic letter generator to local legislators, background information, news and updates, and a free e-newsletter.

Direct Wine Shipments - One stop browsing for U.S. rules and regulations for interstate wine shipments, a state-by-state rundown of who ships where, a separate directory of state enforcement agencies, an extensive FAQ, and links to breaking news and developments.

Australian Wine & Brandy Corporation - Production and Exporting - This is the place to find anything to do with wine regulations in Australia. It has detailed sections on the plain English labeling act, food standards, wine production, levies and more...

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