Seventy-eight years ago today, prohibition, the national ban on the sale, production and transportation of alcohol that was in place from 1920 to 1933, was repealed. Thus making today “Repeal Day.” Over the last few years we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in this very interesting time in American history. Speakeasy-style bars, classic cocktails with hand-cut ice cubes and the popularity of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire are all evidence of this trend. I have to admit, it’s hard to resist the romanticism of getting dressed up, going to a dimly-lit, subterranean gin joint and knocking back a sazerac while vintage jazz plays in the background.
Prohibition, obviously had some negative effects on American culture: organized crime grew rapidly as mafia groups got into the bootlegging business; the economy suffered as government funds were allocated to enforce prohibition; and it virtually destroyed the fledgling U.S. wine industry as lower quality grape vines with thick-skinned grapes that could be transported more easily replaced quality grape vines causing many winemakers to leave the United States for other wine producing countries or to get out of the wine business altogether. Also, ironically, alcohol-related deaths soared as Americans drank more than they ever had before prohibition. Read the rest of this entry »