As the Senate works on a new COVID-19 relief bill, WineAmerica, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that lobbies on behalf of the wine and spirits industry, is encouraging specific legislation that would provide needed economic relief for your favorite wineries, craft spirits producers and even restaurants as the pandemic drags on and virus-related restrictions continue to disrupt the adult beverage industry.
Among other things, WineAmerica is asking Congress to do the following:
-- Enact a permanent extension of the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (H.R. 1175/S. 362), which now has bipartisan support from 75 senators and 347 representatives. A permanent extension of the current federal excise tax rates would provide certainty amidst economic instability. Many craft beverage producers struggling to remain solvent during the current crisis fear what a significant increase in excise tax rates on Jan. 1, 2021, will have on their businesses.
-- Support the RESTAURANTS Act, which creates a revitalization fund for eligible food service establishments to keep workers employed, maintain operations and meet financial obligations. The legislation authorizes the Department of Treasury to provide grants to eligible food and drinking establishments for payroll, benefits, mortgage, rent, utilities, maintenance (including construction of outdoor seating), supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials), food, debt obligations to suppliers and any other expenses deemed essential by the secretary of the Treasury.
-- Create temporary tax incentives that encourage consumers to return to on-premise dining and drinking establishments once public health officials determine it is safe to do so. Examples include reinstating the expanded business entertainment tax deduction and creating a new temporary travel tax credit equal to 50% of any expense for meals, lodging, recreation, transportation or entertainment while traveling away from home within the U.S.
-- Encourage the administration to work with our trading partners to simultaneously suspend tariffs on beer, wine, distilled spirits products and our supply chain partners, and reduce trade barriers on the agriculture and food sector. Tariffs are taxes on our business operations, and the elimination or reduction of those tariffs would maintain the health of our businesses and global supply chains, support American jobs and help American consumers.
These are just a few of the steps Congress is considering that WineAmerica believes would bolster the overall hospitality industry, including restaurants that are now operating at severely reduced capacity in many parts of the nation. Restaurants have seen a dramatic decline in wine, beer and spirits sales due to capacity and social distancing guidelines.
Of course, you could do your part and dine out, order a bottle of wine or a cocktail, and provide some needed financial support to an industry that has been slammed by the nearly nationwide shutdown of large parts of the hospitality industry.
Wines are rated on a 100-point scale. Wines are chosen for review because they represent outstanding quality or value, and the scores are simply a measure of this reviewer's enthusiasm for the recommended wine.
Anna de Codorniu Brut Rose, D.O. Cava, Spain ($12.99) -- In the galaxy of impressive sparkling wines, this beauty from Codorniu stands out not only for value but also for its utterly pure fruit aromas and its compelling deliciousness. Fresh ripe strawberry and cherry flavors, an attractive mousse and the soft, seductive mouthfeel will be hard to beat at this price. Rating: 90.
Flora Springs 2017 Merlot, Napa Valley ($35) -- Napa Valley merlot from a top-notch producer continues to be one of the greatest values in a land where value is in short supply. This beauty from Flora Springs shows impressive depth, with layers of blueberry, cherry and blackberry fruit, a hint of graphite and just the right touch of oak spice. Drink now or cellar. Rating: 93.
Anaba 2019 Grenache Rose, Sonoma County ($30) -- Pale onion-skin in color, this dry rose from Sonoma is a surprise on the palate, showing impressive complexity and crisp acidity that refreshes and whets the appetite for another sip. Notes of citrus, stone fruits and tart apple linger on the finish. Rating: 92.
Tongue Dancer 2018 Pinot Noir, Pratt/Putnam Vineyards, Sonoma Coast ($49) -- Winemaker James MacPhail strikes again, this time with an impressive pinot noir from the Sonoma Coast's Pratt and Putnam vineyards. Richly textured and complex, this vintage shows bright raspberry and cherry notes with a subtle touch of wood spice and firm but nicely integrated tannins. Rating: 92.
Jean-Ernest Descombes 2018 Morgon AOC, Beaujolais, France ($23.99) -- One of the most reliable and complex of all the cru Beaujolais, this example from Descombes runs true to form. A note of violets on the nose pulls you into the glass seductively, where it delivers sweet red fruits, a juicy texture and soft, supple tannins that make for easy summer sipping. Rating: 90.
Follow Robert on Twitter at @wineguru. To find out more about Robert Whitley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Email Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.