As the U.S. Congress works feverishly to ban the direct sale of wine with H.R. 5034, Virginia is actually liberalizing its liquor laws. For more details, navigate to this Washington Post article; but in general, the state plans to allow consumers to sample spirits in their 330 Alcohol and Beverage Control stores.
We will leave the question on why the state operates liquor stores in the first place to a later date, but will applaud this decision. Its about time. Allowing someone to taste a product before forking over $50+ dollars; what a novel concept. Now the state isn't being altruistic about giving consumers more choices. As with most government business, this decision begins and ends with the state's deteriorating fiscal situation. The theory is that consumers will purchase more products and thus pay more in taxes, if they could only sample the product beforehand. Yes, in general, that is true. But so is the reverse; there are several spirits I have purchased only to dislike -- if the tasting option had been available, I would have gone elsewhere. Consumers should benefit from this increased use of market forces; if distributors plan to allow consumers to sample a product, it better be good.
We look forward to the date when we can walk into our local Virginia ABC store and sample 1.5 ounces of spirits. For those across the river, don't expect the Puritan Maryland General Assembly to follow suit.