It’s been a while since I railed against the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Not that they haven’t deserved a good railing in the interim, I’ve just been busy with other topics, and the PLCB has been busy raiding PA bars at great taxpayer expense and with no justifiable reason, so they’ve been dealing with plenty of bad press anyway.
But this week, something got published that I had to rail against. Because, quite honestly, the news is an embarrassment for Pennsylvania taxpayers whose hard-earned cash is going to help fund a government that is supposed to be controlling wine sales in the state, but instead is taking a puke all over customer service and adding almost no value to the average PA consumer.
This news comes by way of Lew Bryson’s excellent blog Why The PLCB Should Be Abolished (hey, at least you know where he stands), recapitulating a Scranton Times-Tribune blog article by David Falchek. In said blog post, Falchek describes a friend’s encounter at a PLCB wine & spirits store in which a PLCB employee denied the existence of Cabernet Franc.
Not the existence of a particular bottling or brand of Cabernet Franc. The employee denied the existence of Cabernet Franc itself.
Yes, I am totally serious, and No, I have not been drinking…
What might be more fascinating than the arrogance and lack of knowledge in the case of this PLCB employee is the irony that Cabernet Franc might be the most promising red variety being cultivated for wine in PA.
Falchek’s article quotes the exchange like this:
PA resident: “I’m looking for cabernet franc.”
PLCB store employee: “Well, there is no such wine.”
PA resident: “Yes, there is. I’ve heard of it before and I just read about it in the paper.”
PLCB store employee: “Well, it was either wrong or you misread it. There’s no such wine.”
What. The. FU*K?!???
You mean all that time I was drinking Cab Franc, I was in the Matrix or soemthing? Shit, that’s trippy!
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that I opened a wine shop in San Francisco, or New York, or Chicago. One day, you come in looking for a Virginia Cab Franc, or a Bourguiel, Chinon, or (if you’re feeling well-to-do) some Cheval Blanc. And I not only tell you that you can’t have any, I deny the very existence of Cab Franc wines entirely.
Here’s a simple question:
How long would you expect my store to last after that sort of blunder, in a free market?
I wouldn’t give it six months.
And yet, the PLCB stores are allowed to exist in a manner that is chasing the air travel industry in terms of reducing customer service to laughable levels – a state of affairs enabled only because they operate in a monopolist, protected environment.
Time for the PLCB to die? Yeah, I think so. And securing that death would be simple – let them compete on the free market.
I wouldn’t give them six months.
A glass of that imaginary Cab Franc, that is.