Doggie bags for wine bottles

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The heart-shaped cards have been delivered by now. The $50+-a-dozen roses as well. According to a national survey, American men will spend, on average, more than $130 on Valentines Day, while far more sensible women will spend half that much.

And many of those Valentines Day celebrations will include a romantic dinner at a restaurant with a bottle of good wine, perhaps even champagne.

Since romantic dinners, by definition, involve only two people, and since most good restaurants sell quality wine and champagne only by the bottle, an awful lot of that wine and champagne will be left to the wait staff tonight. A waste of good wine and good money.

Perhaps by Valentines Day 2007 that will change across Kentucky.

A bill that has passed the Senate here with only two dissenting votes allows customers to take an unfinished bottle of wine home with them. Currently, it is illegal in Kentucky to have open alcoholic beverage containers in vehicles.

Senate Bill 56 requires that the bottle be resealed at the restaurant and put into a tamperproof container with a dated receipt. It is supported by the Kentucky Restaurant Association, and is similar to laws in 33 other states.

Since even a bottle of mediocre wine easily can cost more than $30 in restaurants and a top-quality wine twice or more that amount, this is solid legislation. A diner is less likely to over imbibe on costly wine at a restaurant if he or she knows the unfinished portion of the bottle can be taken home and enjoyed later.

In recent years Kentuckys antiquated, Prohibition-era liquor laws have been dragged slowly into the 21st century. We have some quality wines being produced in Kentucky to go along with our signature bourbon products.

And in our large cities and small towns, we have restaurants now of the quality usually assumed is available only on the east and west coasts, with wine cellars of distinction.

It is time to allow the customers of all Kentucky restaurants to buy and enjoy those quality wines and take home the leftovers.

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