Pa. to Sell Wine in High-Tech Supermarket Kiosks

Soon you may be able to pick up a bottle of Chianti during a trip to the grocery store

Pa wine kiosk

If you live or play in Pennsylvania, you know how much of a pain it is to buy liquor. For beer you have to go to a distributor and for wine or spirits it’s the state store.

But a new pilot program may make picking up a bottle of wine a little easier.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board plans to roll out 100 wine kiosks in supermarkets across the state.

The kiosks are basically huge vending machines that will drop your favorite chardonnay or merlot into your cart. It will hold up to 500 bottles of the most popular wines in varying price ranges, officials say.

Buying the wine, however, will be a little more complicated than picking up a bag of chips.

In order to verify that the purchaser isn't underage or drunk, the user will have to go through a number of checks.

First, they will be required to swipe their ID. That information will be sent to a call center in Harrisburg, where a PLCB rep would pull up a video link to visually verify that same person is buying the bottle.

The buyer would then be prompted to breathe towards a sensor built into front of the machine to determine if they had been drinking.

If they pass the tests, the buyer can pay with a credit or debit card. But if they fail any of the requirements, it’s a no go.

Officials stress that preventing sales to minors and those who are intoxicated is their most important concern.

A custom-built prototype of the kiosk is set to arrive in Harrisburg just after the New Year. It is being built by Conshohocken-based Simple Brands, L.P.

Officials say they will put the machine through the motions and if all goes well, they hope to deploy them around the capital in May or June and eventually throughout the state.

Pennsylvania would be the first state in the nation to sell liquor via a vending machine when the program launches.

The PLCB says the kiosks are meant to complement stores and help consumers. There are currently no plans to expand the program into spirits.

Two Northeast Philadelphia supermarkets are slated to employ the machines. Montgomery County would have the most in the state with 17. Chester and Bucks Counties would have 11 each, nine in Delaware and three in Berks.

The locations could change depending on if there is a large public opposition a particular spot.

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