News In Brief

And now you can buy wine from the vending machine…

Daryl Paranada Aug 9, 2010

These days, it seems you can buy everything from a vending machine – DVDs, iPods, and of course, good, ol’ fashioned candy. Well, now you can add wine to the list. Wine lovers in the state of Pennsylvania can buy their favorite red or white at vending machines. The Keystone State is the first in the nation to try wine kiosks.

A few wine-popping machines are being tested at supermarkets, where consumers will have the chance to purchase wine ranging in price from $7-23. The machines hold 700 bottles, which will be temperature controlled.

Machines were introduced at grocery stories in some Pennsylvania cities earlier in the summer, and if they are a success, more will be added statewide.

The machines are the brainchild of Simple Brands, a company based in Conshohocken, Pa., and its CEO is banking on the appeal of convenience. After all, Pennsylvania has some of the most stringent liquor laws in the nation. Before the kiosks, wine lovers hoping to take a sip at home had to buy their liquor at state-owned stores.

But how exactly does the wine get from machine to your hand?

Apparently, a customer chooses their wine on a touch-screen display, swipes their ID, blows into an alcohol sensor (you never touch the breathalyzer, though) and looks into a surveillance camera. A state employee at a call center then remotely approves the sale if the purchaser is the same person on the ID and passes the breathalyzer test. The whole process is supposed to take 20 seconds. Really?

The machines aren’t without controversy, as you might imagine. Local wineries in Pennsylvania have complained that the machines don’t support the local industry (none of the wine offered is Pennsylvania wine). And, oh yeah, there’s the whole Big Brother aspect. Not to mention other potential pitfalls.

Nevertheless, if the test goes well, the company plans to eventually roll out more machines across the U.S. Cheers!

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