No more bub­bly for beam­ing brides-to-be Jo­line Gu­tier­rez Krueger

Albuquerque Journal - - FRONT PAGE -

He wanted the sounds of corks pop­ping, of crys­tal clink­ing, of bub­bles fizzing, of toasts and thanks and tears when a woman fi­nally says yes to the dress.

He wanted cel­e­bra­tory sounds. In­dul­gent sounds.

And so it seemed per­fect to Ja­son Jones, owner and gen­eral man­ager of Ann Matthews Bridal, to serve a bit of the bub­bly to his cus­tomers once a bride-to-be and her squad agree upon the per­fect wed­ding dress for that per­fect day with her per­fect match.

“It’s a spe­cial oc­ca­sion,” said Jones, whose busi­ness has been a bridal in­sti­tu­tion in Al­bu­querque for 17 years, 12 at the cur­rent lo­ca­tion on Alameda at Coors NW.

“Choos­ing a wed­ding gown is a mo­ment to re­mem­ber. It’s like no other shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s some­thing to be cel­e­brated. Toast­ing the bride with Cham­pagne makes a lot of sense.”

But it didn’t to the folks at the state Al­co­hol and Gam­ing Di­vi­sion. To them, Jones, his staff and his im­bib­ing bridal par­ties were a just few bub­bles away from a felony.

“We get this call from their lawyer say­ing we bet­ter not do this any­more or we’d all be put in jail,” Jones said. “But they couldn’t tell us what law we were break­ing.”

But there is a law. Un­der state statute (60-7A-22, for you le­gal types), it’s a vi­o­la­tion of the Liquor Con­trol Act for any per­son with­out a liquor li­cense to sell, serve or per­mit the con­sump­tion of al­co­holic bev­er­ages in his or her pub­lic es­tab­lish­ment or pri­vate club. It is also a vi­o­la­tion for any per­son to con­sume al­co­holic bev­er­ages in any pub­lic es­tab­lish­ment un­less the es­tab­lish­ment is li­censed to sell and serve al­co­holic bev­er­ages.

Vi­o­lat­ing the act is a fourthde­gree felony pun­ish­able by up to 18 months in prison. Which is quite the buz­zkill. But how could this be, Jones won­dered. Why would New Mex­ico be against a sim­ple act of cel­e­bra­tion within the con­fines of a pri­vate busi­ness? Where was the love?

For years, movies and TV shows have made sip­ping bub­bly while se­lect­ing a wed­ding dress seem as cru­cial as a bridal veil, a nec­es­sary nicety to wet the whis­tles of the gag­gles of gig­gling women coo­ing over con­coc­tions of lace and charmeuse.

But not ev­ery bridal salon — in fact, not most — of­fers sparkling wine salutes, among them Kle­in­feld Bridal, the Man­hat­tan shop made fa­mous by the TLC cable show “Say Yes to the Dress.” Pa­trons there are al­lowed only bot­tled wa­ter.

Jones be­gan the sparkling wine toasts in Fe­bru­ary 2017, pur­chas­ing a sup­ply of crys­tal flutes — no cheap plas­tic coupe glasses for him — and a case of New Mex­ico’s own Gruet sparkling rosé for a nice pink touch.

There was no over-serv­ing, he said. No serv­ing of the un­der­aged. He and a staff mem­ber ob­tained server per­mits — the same stateap­proved li­censes waiters and bar servers need to dis­pense booze in restau­rants and liquor es­tab­lish­ments.

“Ev­ery­body’s happy,” he said. “It looks great in pho­tos. It was just a neat day for ev­ery­body.”

Jones said he sus­pects a dis­grun­tled brides­maid — be­cause if we’ve learned any­thing from shows like “Bridezil­las,” there’s al­ways a dis­grun­tled brides­maid — re­ported his prac­tice to the Al­co­hol and Gam­ing Di­vi­sion, which re­sulted in a visit by an in­ves­ti­ga­tor, who Jones said did not ap­pear very con­cerned about the mat­ter.

“I didn’t think much of it, didn’t hear any­thing more for an ex­tended pe­riod of time, so I fig­ured case closed,” he said.

But in Au­gust a se­cond call ad­vised Jones that the agency’s at­tor­ney had or­dered him to stop serv­ing the sparkling wine toasts. So Jones put a cork in it. But he ques­tions why other busi­nesses are al­lowed to serve al­co­hol in small amounts to clients — up­scale hair and nail sa­lons, limou­sine rentals and lawyer’s of­fices af­ter win­ning a big case for clients.

“It seems like the Al­co­hol and Gam­ing Di­vi­sion picks a chooses who it goes af­ter,” he said. “Why is it com­mon sense to leave one busi­ness alone and go af­ter the other?”

But Ber­nice Geiger, spokes­woman for the state Reg­u­la­tion and Li­cens­ing De­part­ment, which over­sees Al­co­hol and Gam­ing, said none of those busi­nesses is serv­ing al­co­hol legally.

“There are no ex­cep­tions in the law for small amounts of al­co­hol,” she said.

Jones said he thinks some­thing needs to change to re­sume this small bit of cour­tesy, done re­spon­si­bly, pri­vately and in the spirit of love.

Un­til then, brides will have to set­tle for sparkling cider and well-wishes.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

Wed­ding par­ties at Ann Matthews Bridal in North­west Al­bu­querque used to re­ceive a con­grat­u­la­tory toast of Gruet sparkling rosé af­ter the bride-to-be chose her wed­ding gown, but state statute says that lit­tle sip of bub­bly is a felony of­fense.

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