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Wine Vending Machines

Pennsylvania Introduces the Country's First Wine Kiosks

July 12, 2010

A rendering of the wine vending machine being implemented in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania, which has some of the most complicated liquor laws in the U.S., recently introduced the country's first vending machines for wine. That's right, wine. The bulky kiosks—about the size of four large refrigerators—have been planted in two grocery stores for a test run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which hopes that the new machines will make it easier for consumers to purchase liquor in the state. It doesn't seem that easy to us, though.

In addition to choosing a wine from a touch-screen display and swiping a credit or debit card, a potential customer also has to swipe an ID and smile for the camera. The sale won't go through unless a state employee in Harrisburg, the capital, verifies the ID belongs to the buyer. To top it off, the customer must also blow into an alcohol sensor to make sure he or she is not already under the influence.

Currently, wine and liquor can only be purchased for home consumption from stores owned by the state and staffed by public employees, so being able to purchase Gewürztraminer at the grocery store does seem like an improvement. Sadly, the machines can't be used on Sundays and holidays. Plus, there are some reports of people who are concerned about the Big Brother element of the machines. But, whether or not these wine kiosks will succeed depends on Pennsylvania's wine consumers, who might see them as a huge convenience compared to the limited options they've had until now.

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