Wal-Mart to install wine machines

The retailer will put kiosks in its Pennsylvania stores by working around strict state laws.

By Kim Peterson Dec 9, 2010 4:52PM

Wine © Stockbyte/PhotolibraryWine bottles from a vending machine? Interesting idea. And Wal-Mart (WMT) is all over this one, at least in parts of Pennsylvania.

The retailer has received a green light from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board to put wine kiosks in stores across the state, CBS Pittsburgh reports.

The machines will reportedly have more than 50 varieties of wine. But before you buy, you'll need to swipe your driver's license and puff into a Breathalyzer.

The machines are already drawing some fairly ridiculous concerns, according to CBS Pittsburgh. One resident worried the machines would make it easier for underage people to get wine. Teenagers are clamoring to get their grubby paws on a pinot grigio, you know.

"I don't think it's a good idea, because I think it's too tempting for younger people," the resident told CBS.


 Post continues after video:

Another resident wondered why Wal-Mart wouldn't just sell wine the regular way instead of having a machine "where you put your cards and things in it." That's because Wal-Mart isn't allowed.

Wired puts it all into perspective. You can't buy wine in a grocery store in Pennsylvania. You have to go to state-owned stores instead.

The vending machines allow wine to be sold at Wal-Mart and other supermarkets because of a technological work-around: A state employee monitors the vending machines with a video camera.

A customer shows ID, breathes into the Breathalyzer and faces the camera, writes Charlie Sorrel. The state employee checks the ID and Breathalyzer results and approves the sale.

"Clearly these laws aren’t meant to protect the people," Sorrel writes. "Rather, a state monopoly on booze is a clear money-spinner for the local government. Still, the work-around is admirable, in a high-tech, convoluted fashion, which is exactly the kind of work-around we like."

The chairman of the Pennsylvania liquor board describes the machines as "developed for the average consumer who wants a nice bottle of wine with their steak and seafood."

Dec 10, 2010 10:37AM

You have to admire the way Wal Mart wrings the last dollar out of a market. However if the voters in that state want to buy wine with their groceries, why not just change the law?


If the voters  don't want this, then this is a perfect example of gov't bureaucrats thinking they know better than the people and the gov't  is not listening to the voting majorities' voice.  Which is disturbing to think about what that implies.

Dec 9, 2010 8:58PM
Any, did you not read where the author said the ridiculous comment came from CBS Pittsburgh?  If you are going to criticize, at least read the article.  Not skim and assume.
Dec 9, 2010 8:31PM

Teenagers are not interested in bottles of wine to get drunk.   They are interested in hard liquor and beer.  Furthermore, every single sale will be monitered by a state employee anyways, so what is the problem??


But what I do not understand is the breathalyzer test?   Why would someone need to be sober in order to buy wine?  There could be a different person driving, so the excuse that we do not want drunk drivers is not valid.  Furthermore, do you blow into the same hole as everybody else?  Or do you use a straw?  What if they run out of straws?

Dec 9, 2010 8:08PM
To Anynamethatwillsave: I agree with the author. I do think it is ridiculous. In order for the underage person to get alcohol, they would have to slide a fake id, match the looks and age of the fake id, pass a breathalyzer test, plus look over twenty one, plus look inconspicuous as they stand at the dispenser in the store.  The likelihood that this will increase underage drinking, I think is very low. Youths that want alcohol aren't going to get alcohol this way, they will find other ways.
Dec 9, 2010 9:39PM
I guess their customers won't have to struggle with the screw caps on the bottles.
Dec 9, 2010 8:45PM

This is not a new concept.  There are already supermarkets in PA that have installed these.  I work at one.  You blow into a round knob on the machine from up to 12 inches away.  You never touch the machine.  There is absolutely no way an underage person can purchase from this machine because half of the overage people cant.  The machine is not perfected and still has major problems.  It has a camera on it at all times from the PLCB. This article is nothing more than filler between the major news articles of the day.

Dec 9, 2010 7:47PM
Is it just me, or does anyone else find it both biased and rude for the author to label the concern of underage drinkers as "ridiculous"?  Underage drinkers attempt to get alcoholic beverages in other stores by using someone else's ID, and get away with it.  No reason this will be any different.  It's a perfectly valid concern and it's a put-off for the reader to be told what they're "allowed" to be concerned about if they don't want to be thought of as "ridiculous".  
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