Myth vs. Fact
There are many myths about direct shipment that are perpetuated by the special interests opposed to it.
Here are some of those myths, along with the real facts behind the myths:
MYTH: Minors use direct-to-consumer wine shipment to obtain alcohol illegally.
FACT: Multiple national studies, evidenced youth behavior, and other states’ experience show that this argument is baseless.
One argument against direct shipment is that it allegedly undermines the State’s ability to police underage drinking.
Advocates of this position claim that minors, who have easy access to credit cards and the Internet, will use direct shipment as a
means to illegally obtain wine. Multiple national studies, evidenced youth consumer behavior and enforcement data from 35 states show
that this argument is without merit.
MYTH: A consumer can legally buy wine at auction and bring it into Maryland.
FACT: An individual is prohibited from bringing more than one bottle bought at auction at a time into Maryland and no more than two a month.
Maryland generally prohibits the importation of alcohol into the state except under very specific circumstances.
In order to legally bring in wine bought at auction, an individual must fall under one of several exceptions to this prohibition.
The primary exception only applies to individuals or entities that obtain a commercial license to import alcohol. Distributors
with such licenses are free to buy wine at auction and import it into the state. This exception, however, does not help the average
individual who buys wine at an auction. Such individuals must try to fall under a second set of exceptions which allow consumers to
import wine for personal consumption.
MYTH: An individual can visit another state or country and bring any wine they want back into Maryland for personal consumption.
FACT: Under Maryland law, consumers are ONLY allowed to legally bring one quart of wine into the state at a
time and not more than two quarts during any one calendar month or one gallon if coming from overseas for personal use.
Maryland employs a legal framework that generally prohibits the importation of alcohol into the state.
The principal exception applies to businesses with a commercial license or permit, which are strictly regulated and
not available to general consumers. The second set of exceptions gives consumers a very limited ability to bring
alcohol into the state for personal consumption.
MYTH: Direct-to-consumer wine sales will hurt Maryland retailers.
FACT: Wine shipping is an entrepreneurial opportunity for those retailers that want to take advantage of it; for the rest, it is irrelevant.
Maryland is one of a few states that prohibit chain store sales of beer and wine, which means that a Maryland liquor licensee must a) be a Maryland resident; b) not have a liquor license in another state; and c) only hold one liquor license in their name. As a result of the franchise exclusion, Maryland liquor stores have only one option for expanding their bricks-and-mortar business: going online.
MYTH: Maryland’s Direct Wine Seller’s Permit already allows consumers to access unavailable wines, making the Direct Wine Shipper’s License unnecessary.
FACT: The Direct Wine Seller’s Permit precludes commonly requested consumer behavior, has an overly convoluted application process and does not meet the reciprocal standards of other states.
One of the primary reasons for shipping wine is gift-giving, whether for a wedding, job well done or the holidays. Under the current Direct Wine Seller’s Permit system whereby wineries ship to wholesalers that deliver to retailers, a gift giver would have to coordinate with their intended recipient which retailer is most convenient for them, thereby spoiling any element of surprise. The gift would be delivered to the retailer, and either the retailer or gift giver would have to notify the recipient to pick up the package. Additionally, only American wines would be available as gifts because retailers are excluded from the Permit; retailers in other states are the only readily legal source of imports not available in Maryland. No other traditional gift requires the gift giver to go through such an arduous process.