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Bigger wine bottles could be coming to Florida

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Thanks to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, Nebuchadnezzar may come to Florida—the wine bottle size, not the king of ancient Babylon.

Current law generally makes it illegal to sell wine “in an individual container holding more than 1 gallon.” A typical bottle is 750 milliliters, roughly a fifth of a gallon.

Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, last week offered an amendment to a booze-advertising bill (SB 388). The amendment, adopted without objection, repeals the bottle-size law.

It would allow wine bottles of all sizes, including the “Nebuchadnezzar,” which hold 15 liters, or the volume of 20 standard wine bottles.

The bill would even allow the mammoth 50-liter “Sovereign”—the equivalent of a whopping 67 standard wine bottles.

“This bottle is quite probably only produced by Taittinger, who in 1988 created (it) for the baptism of the largest cruise ship in the world, named the ‘Sovereign of the Seas,’ ” according to the BigBottles website.

“This is about individual liberty,” Brandes said in a text message. And 50 liters is a lot of liberty.

His language also would place “the regulation of cider-bottle size on equal footing with beer,” he said.

And it would repeal a state law that requires diners to order and consume a full meal—”consisting of a salad or vegetable, entree, a beverage, and bread”—before they can take home an opened bottle of wine.

Call that one the “Pinot to go” provision. (“Merlot to go”? “Take-away Chardonnay”?) It’s the continuing legacy of the late Senate President Jim King‘s 2005 measure that first legalized carry-out wine.

“Ultimately, in Florida, we trust adults to be adults and we don’t need laws that force us to eat our vegetables before enjoying a glass of wine,” Brandes said.

The Senate bill is now ready for the floor. A House companion (HB 423) doesn’t have provisions similar to Brandes’.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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