Oh-oh-oh, Oh-oh-oh, I Love Sangria Wine

Good grief.  And I thought the TABC was bad.

In Virginia, serving sangria could land you in jail 

Serving the traditional Spanish beverage of sangria could land you in hot water in the southern state of Virginia, but lawmakers were debating Thursday whether to legalize the tapas bar favorite.

“We have a code in Virginia that says no distilled spirit may be added to wine or beer prior to a customer’s order,” Kristy Marshall, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control agency, told AFP.

“A lot of restaurants like to pre-mix a drink in the morning and have one big batch to serve throughout the day. It’s the pre-mixing that makes it illegal,” Marshall said.

Violating the code, which dates from 1934, a year after the end of the Prohibition Era, when alcohol was banned in the United States, is a “class one misdemeanor, punishable by a 2,500 dollars fine and/or 12 months in jail,” Marshall said.

And from today’s Chronicle:

Since 1934, the state has prohibited mixing wine or beer with spirits. Frances McDonald, vice president of La Tasca Spanish Tapas Bar and Restaurants, found that out the hard way when his Alexandria location was cited for violating the sangria ban in 2006 and fined $2,000.

McDonald and managing partner Shana McKillop appealed their case to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board on Thursday before going to the Capitol to urge legislators to pass a bill legalizing the red wine, liqueur and fruit concoction.

What’s a tapas restaurant without sangria?  Heresy!  Although it appears that if you’re ever actually in Spain, you should avoid sangria served at tapas bars like the plague.  Hmm.

More importantly, what was the impetus behind such a law back in the 1930s?  Anyone have any idea?  Mixing spirits with spirits…maybe.  Maybe.  But mixing wine and spirits?  Was there some kind of dangerous Kir epidemic in 1930s-era Virginia, where people were abusing their wine cocktails and causing untold damage to persons and properties? 

And why has Virginia taken so long to repeal such a strange law?  Then again, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code has an entire section devoted to “Offenses Related To Bingo,” so I guess we can’t really throw stones.