JULIAN HITNER TORONTO WINE CONSULTANT

"For love of everything that is wine"

WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ONTARIO LIQUOR LAWS?

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As most wine enthusiasts have probably long realized, the province of Ontario possesses a good assortment of quite archaically-peculiar
– and seemingly ridiculous – liquor-related regulations, the origins of which (at least for many) appear to be traceable back to the era of Prohibition in North America.

For those who are interested in learning more about what some might call "Ontario's puritanical liquor laws," you have come to the right place!

CLICK BELOW FOR DIFFERENT SECTIONS:
-LAWS FOR BUYING/SELLING WINE (OR ALCOHOL)
-LAWS FOR DISPLAYING WINE (OR ALCOHOL)
-LAWS FOR DRINKING WINE (OF ALCOHOL)
-GENERAL CONCLUSIONS WE CAN COME TO

Click here for a copy of the Ontario Liqour License Act

LAWS FOR BUYING/SELLING WINE IN ONTARIO

  • Aside from L.C.B.O. stores (and any outlets that operate under their umbrella), no establishment may sell alcoholic beverages before 11:00AM --- in other words, a person does not have the actual self-deciding freedom to have a drink at a public establishment (for whatever reason) early in the morning.
  • At L.C.B.O. stores, there is no law against hiring persons that are eighteen years of age to sell liqour, even though they are not allowed to purchase liqour.
  • For private wine agencies, it is illegal to sell bottles in quantities of less than six (normally, bottles are only sold in cases of twelve) --- I have not been able to uncover a reason for this, though it might have something to do with protecting Ontario wineries.

LAWS FOR DISPLAYING WINE IN ONTARIO

  • Under Ontario law, it is illegal to carry in public unopened bottles (or cans) of alcohol; this means that a person always has to keep alcohol concealed in a bag (or in a jacket pocket) --- the reason behind this law? Seeing unopened alcoholic products causes people to go blind ... yes, that must be it.
  • Under Ontario law, it is illegal for establishments that do not have a liquor license to display (even beyond reach of the customer) unopened bottles of alcohol, even if they are not for sale to the public --- while such a rule may seem inconsequential, it does nonetheless mean that even high-end food stores cannot add to the aesthetic value of their establishments; I've often observed that such stores often display expensive bottles of olive oil behind their counters as a type of substitute. Ever noticed this?

LAWS FOR DRINKING WINE IN ONTARIO


  • Under Ontario law, it is considered unlawful to consume alcohol 'on the street' --- in other words, if someone wishes to take a walk around the block while enjoying a bottle of beer on a hot summer day, one would technically be breaking the law --- one more thing: consuming alcohol in a paper bag may not be considered legal, but it sure can be considered ridiculous.
  • On the subject of advertising, it is against the law in Ontario (as well as throughout practically all of North America) to show people (living or dead) engaged in the act of consuming alcohol on any advertisements, whether it be on television, in magazines, or on billboards --- the reason for this, according to regulation bodies, is that it promotes drinking among people underage (*by this logic, the theory then is that showing people not drinking in advertisements has a lesser effect on the minds of young people - fat chance*).
  • At L.C.B.O. stores, it is permitted that small (very small), free samples be given to customers; however these samples are only allowed to be consumed in a designated area, usually right in front of the table where the free samples are being given; in other words, one is not allowed to walk around an L.C.B.O.outlet with a free sample --- the reason for this stems from the fact that the L.C.B.O. does not have a license for people to walk around consuming tiny amounts of alcohol in its stores (*makes sense to me*).

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS WE CAN COME TO

Depending on one's own personal beliefs, I think I can speak for most people when I say that – as Ontarians – we are, quite possibly, just a little behind the times when it comes to our attitude toward wine and other alcoholic beverages. Nonetheless, the question remains as to why?

While I have no doubt that some people might disagree, I have the distinct impression that one of the main reasons for Ontario's strange liquor laws has to do with Ontarians' sort-of fear of losing control, as depicted in the image shown above. As a basis of comparison, the restrictions placed on alcohol could be viewed as not dissimilar from the existance of traffic lights --- without them, there would be chaos. Concerning the former, however, can it not be argued that the restrictions placed on the consumption of alcohol go somewhat beyond their necessity? After all, there are not traffic lights on every corner ... just where the general public thinks they are most needed.

Though perhaps the above is not the finest of analogies, I nonetheless do personally believe
– particularly as an enthusiast of wine – that our attitude toward alcohol in Ontario is rather pathetic --- pathetic!

Any thoughts? Write me!

ANY QUESTIONS?

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