Wine from a box has become passé. How about from a high-tech kiosk tricked out with a wine list that would make a sommelier proud? In a state test that could have national implications, Pennsylvania has decided to make wine available in grocery stores – via vending machines.
Pennsylvania residents have long had to buy wine at state-owned liquor stores. The vending machines make it possible to pick up a bottle of wine along with milk and eggs at the supermarket – far more convenient than making a special trip. If the policy takes off statewide, expect a boost to the whole category, with marketing implications.
Customers can use debit or credit cards in the machines. Using a touch display, the consumer chooses from as many as 90 kinds of wine, pays, swipes a valid ID card, and blows into the breathalyzer. The sale is approved remotely.
Eight states and one county in Maryland sell alcohol through government-run stores. If the Pennsylvania test, currently being conducted in Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg, proves successful, the wine vending machines could be rolled out across Pennsylvania and potentially to other states.
The wine vending machine may not have the same technological sophistication of Coca-Cola’s Freestyle drink mixing vending machine, or the quirkiness of the vending machine that rewards consumers with free ice cream, but it could be just the thing for a busy shopper who wants to make one less stop on the way home to Happy Hour.