Monopolies

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

State, province, or national exclusive controls over the sale, and occasionally production, of all alcoholic drinks have a long history. In india, the manufacture of the sort of wine drunk in the immediately pre-Christian era was a state monopoly. In countries such as algeria and, to a lessening extent, egypt, the state has controlled wine production as well as distribution. The administrators of many ancient civilizations saw the economic and social advantages of exercising a monopoly over the distribution of wine and beer (the only alcoholic drinks known in antiquity). State monopolies on selling alcoholic drinks have been features in many Scandinavian countries, Pennsylvania in the united states, and much of canada, although some of these monopolies were broken in the 1990s. The disadvantage for consumers can be a restriction of choice, and in many cases severe restrictions on where and how wine is sold, sometimes with all the safeguards and ignominy associated with the distribution of dangerous drugs. The advantage for producers can be that a sale to a monopoly represents a relatively high-volume order. The two biggest monopolies in terms of volume of wine sold are the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) in Canada, which sold about 135 million litres of wine in the 12 months to 31 March 2013, and Systembolaget in Sweden, which sold nearly 200 million litres in 2012.