Spectator Jumps in Ring

The Wine Spectator, a magazine better known for raging debates about the relative merits of malolactic fermentation, steps into politics in the July 31 issue. On a dramatic black cover, the magazine proclaims Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South Carolina) as "Wine's Public Enemy #1."

Thurmond has drawn the Spectator's ire primarily for his support of labeling laws that emphasize wine's potential hazards without allowing the mention of the possible benefits of moderate consumption. He has also proposed a new tax on wine (which, according to the Spectator's figures, would add about 60 cents to the price of each bottle and would help fund government health organizations).

What's behind Thurmond's interest in wine? The Spectator posits possible motives ranging from genuine belief to personal tragedy to simple revenge. Thurmond is known for his embrace of diet and exercise. His first wife was an alcoholic, and his eldest daughter was killed by a drunk driver. And, finally, the magazine suggests that because South Carolina is a major tobacco growing state, he wants to spread the neo-prohibitionist pain.

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