Monday, July 19, 2010

Should Wine Kiosks Make You Smile?

Want to buy wine in Pennsylvania, there is a new way a wine kiosk. Two Giant supermarkets have added large wine vending machines as part of a trial run to put 100 throughout the state (NPR link). To get the wine purchasers have to swipe their state ID and smile for the camera to be id checked remotely by a state worker. On top of that you have to blow a breathalyzer to show you have no alcohol in your system.

Why can't you just put wine in shopping cart and check out? Because the state has a monopoly on wine sales and hard liquor (it looks like you can buy a six pack in a independent grocery store). Maryland has somewhat similar rules, except you can actually buy wine, but only at independent stores (so no two buck chuck).

So does this kiosk make economic sense. I'm guessing probably not. Although it's interesting the company that makes the kiosk provides them free of charge in exchange for advertising space. The grocery store might attract more people, since it cuts down on a trip to another store to get your bottle of wine or two for dinner.

The only people that are losing are the wine loving citizens of Pennsylvania who still have few options as to where to buy their wine. Ben Franklin would clearly be opposed.

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rjgitter said...

Isn't it ironic that PA was the home of Ben Franklin who is alleged to have said "Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy." (I have also seen the quote using beer as well but never have I seen it for lite beer or white zinfandel. That must tell us something.)

OK, maybe technology will improve, but I note they have only 53 choices of wine. This might sound odd to some, but that really is not a lot. I would be surprised if they had more than 3 or 4 Australian shirazes. Well, I have been known to buy Yellow Tail, Lindemann's, Layer Cake and others. Other people prefer Greg Norman, Jacob's Creek, or Little Penguin. We won't all be able to get what we want. Yet, on my home tonight when I stop at the Kroger's I can get all of those and more. In other words, 53 wines is not enough choice.

Bob Gitter

kate said...

This whole thing depresses me. The best place to buy beer around Pittsbugh is an hour away in Ohio.