The alcoholic beverages
Virginia is awesome and you know why ? Because we can find wine and beer at the regular grocery stores ! If you are french or virginians, you must be : ‘of course’. If you are from Maryland or Utah, you must like : ‘what ?’. All states are not equal.
Let's dig a bit
Planning ahead is the golden rule
Each state decides how to regulate the alcohol selling : where, at what time and taxes. A few examples. In Utah, where we landed at first, only low alcohol beer was sold in grocery stores. To get anything else, including wine, you would have to go to a liquor store. Needless to say that it is weird to go to these stores : this is not about getting an art substance like in a french specialized liquor store, this is about selling regulated substances : the stores are sad and basic and you feel like an addict getting your dose. In Virginia, we get wine and beer in regular stores but to get Vodka, Grand Marnier, Rum, you have to go to an ‘ ABC Store’ with ‘ABC’ standing ‘Alcoholic Beverage Control’. These state operated stores have the monopoly to sell spirits in 17 stages… It took me 2 years to realize that these stores are liquor stores…
There is also regulation of the sales hours for each alcohol type. For example in New York, you cannot buy spirit on Sunday morning. In Utah, restaurants and bars cannot serve drinks after 1am and you cannot get a drink without food. In Maryland, all types of alcoholic drinks cannot be sold in chain stores… There are also some counties that prohibit totally selling alcohol, even beer. Too long to explain, look at the links below.
I did not drink before. Now that I am in the US, I do. Why ? Not only wine is expensive and complicated to choose but the beer options are just great ! There are many brands : the big widespread ones but also all the local breweries that provide quality diverse options at really competitive price. Plus by consuming local beer or at least not giant corporation beer, you almost feel like supporting the alternative economy. Most of these local breweries have welcoming bars and restaurants gathering local artist and events. So I would highly encourage you to check on the local brewery options while travelling.
Coming back on wine. I do like wine but it is hard to choose as my french references are totally useless and the advice from american are, most of the time, not valid for a french taste. Wines are not sorted by castle but by type of grapes. Who does that really ? We tried going american wine as buying local is what we should do. But you will see pretty quick that a basic american wine is at least $15-20 while a good french wine in France would be in the $10-15. And at that price level, we got it totally wrong many times :(.
The good news is that with such market prices, there are a lot of international wines available. You can find great argentinian, australian, italian and spanish wines and a few stores have great selection of not too expensive french wine. Yes you can do it.
So based on that
No need to import french wine, you will find what you need. Beware the local regulation to not go dry...
List of dry communities in the USA