Ready, Aim. . . Sip?

The news that the National Rifle Association has a wine club, known as the American Cellars Wine Club, caused quite a flurry, with some pushing (Yalumba, furious at being included, demanded its wines be withdrawn, and The Wine Club Directory canceled its recommendation) and some pulling (the NRA removed an open letter on its website from its vice-president, Wayne LaPierre, which explained how wine purchases “directly support” the group, before overhauling the wine-club home page, so that participating wineries were no longer listed upfront; listings, and Wine Spectator-style tasting notes—Beringer Cabernet: “licorice, chocolate, roasted herbs, sweet oak and various blue and black fruits”--were only available to members).
       Given that the NRA is noted for strident militancy, their reaction seemed a little surprising (though not quite as surprising as the image of “good ole boys” who “drove their Chevvies to the levee, drinking. . . Chardonnay”?). The company that handles the actual sales, Vinesse, in southern California, supervises a number of wine clubs, and also went a little quiet—their page for the American Cellars Wine Club doesn’t mention the NRA at all.
       Now there’s another story, according to The New York Times: 250 members of Congress belong to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, and are recipients of funds and hospitality from the Congressional Sports Foundation, a charity that supports research on wildlife and conservation, as well as  lobbying against gun control; members of the caucus have frequently introduced pro-gun legislation. Major donors to the charity are Remington, Winchester, Walmart (a major retailer of guns), and of course the NRA. Among the hospitality events where lobbyists, gun makers, and politicians mingled last year were the “Stars and Stripes Shootout” and “Wine, Wheels, and Wildlife.” Wine tastings are regular features of the charity, it seems, proving at last that wine has finally earned a solid place in American life. Assyrtiko and AK-47s, anyone?

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