Without Tears — and Now Without Booze


HALF EMPTY: A Moscow vintner surveys his remaining legal stock

The joy of Russia is drinking, and without drinking we cannot be," said Prince Vladimir, ruler of the state of Kievan Rus in the 10th century, as he chose Christianity for the state religion over teetotal Islam. Never has Russia indulged her joy more than over the last five petrodollar-rich years, with alcohol from any land available to complement the fabulous abundance of domestic vodkas, at prices ranging from affordable at kiosks to exclusive at rare wine boutiques.

But the joy abruptly ended on July 1. Citing the need to control alcohol quality and tax collection, the...

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