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A trio of D.C. wine bars are offering discounts tonight, but you have to do a little homework first. Midnight is the deadline to submit comments to the U.S. Trade Representative on the Trump administration’s proposed 100 percent tariffs on hundreds of goods from the European Union, including wine. If you can show your bartender at Estadio, Maxwell Park, or Primrose proof that you sent in a comment, they’ll give you 20 percent off your wine order.
Last week, City Paper reported on the potentially devastating impact the tariffs would have on the local wine industry. Experts shared that the attempt to deliver a gut punch to Europe is actually threatening American small businesses and jobs in addition to pricing out American consumers from enjoying a robust variety of wines.
The Trump administration’s move stems from a May 2018 ruling in which the World Trade Organization found that the European Union unfairly subsidized aircraft manufacturing to the tune of billions of dollars. The subsidies put France’s Airbus at a better competitive advantage than U.S.-based Boeing.
“It’ll put me out of business because I’m a French wine bar,” Primrose owner Sebastian Zutant says. He, along with Maxwell Park owner Brent Kroll and Estadio owner Max Kuller, printed out special versions of their wine menus that will be on display tonight and maybe even longer. They show what their wines currently cost and what they would cost should the U.S. go through with the 100 percent tariffs. Estadio’s menu also includes a third price—how much the wine will cost with the 20 percent discount.
In their projections, all three wine bar owners opted to double the price of each wine. Kuller thinks that’s a conservative estimate. “It’s hard to say exactly what they would end up at,” he says. “It would more than double, but we’re not trying to fear monger.”
Kuller, who calls today “wine tariff reckoning day,” is frustrated that the tariffs are tied to an aviation dispute unrelated to his industry. “I do think it’s clear that the powers that be have no real comprehension or real regard for how badly this would affect not just wine importers and distributors and restaurants and bars, but also communities.”
He says it’s been a tough topic to broach with customers, especially because the ask is a little more complicated that putting a signature on a petition. Those who submit comments have to write a thoughtful letter.
“It’s hard for us to tell how much each one of these comments matter, but we have to believe they do,” Kuller continues. “It would be a catastrophic thing if these tariffs go through. It’s not an easy thing to unwind once it’s done.”
Kroll was the first to roll out a menu depicting both prices, seen below. “This is a way to say, ‘You like our bar? Here’s what it would look like’,” he says.
Primrose, 3000 12th St. NE; (202) 248-4558; primrosedc.com
Maxwell Park, 1336 9th St. NW; (202) 792-9522; maxwellparkdc.com
Estadio, 1520 14th St. NW; (202) 319-1404; estadio-dc.com