Pennsylvania Has Wine in Grocery Stores!


The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is rolling out wine vending machines in grocery stores across the state, starting with two in the Harrisburg area. Each machine holds 1,000 bottles of 53 (count 'em) different wines, which you can buy if you swipe your driver's license to prove you're 21 or older, look into a camera monitored by a liquor control board employee to prove you are the person you say you are, and breathe into an alcohol sensor to prove you are not intoxicated. The machines, which operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (but not on Sunday), accept credit cards and provide information about each of the wines.

Sadly, as a native Pennsylvanian I can testify that these  pernsnickety machines, despite their limited selection and arbitrary requirements, count as a major step forward in convenience for consumers in the Keystone State, who heretofore could not buy wine in the supermarket at all. Furthermore, in the last decade or two the state-run outlets that sell wine and liquor, which used to resemble Soviet grocery stores, have noticeably improved in terms of hours, inventory, and service. But the better Pennsylvania's liquor and wine monopoly gets at serving its customers, the more it undermines its raison d'etre, which is to discourage drinking by making it harder and more expensive. If the state's system operates just like a customer-friendly business (and it still has a ways to go on that score), what's the point (aside from raising revenue and employing state workers, which would justify a government monopoly in any industry)?

Last year Katherine Mangu-Ward noted that Virginia's governor wants to privatize liquor and wine distribution in the Old Dominion.

[Thanks to Josh Miller for the tip.]


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  1. “and breathe into an alcohol sensor to prove you are not intoxicated”

    You can’t buy booze drunk???

    Now there’s a logical regulation!!!

  2. Finally.

    In the meantime, more Smokin’ Betty’s happy hours!

  3. Living in the state of Anheuser-Busch, I’d never seen an ABC store until I lived in Ohio. Then I was informed that the state did not sell Myer’s Rum. There wasn’t a bottle to be had in the entire fucking state. My journey to libertarianism had begun.

    1. Maybe so, but you can buy beer at a drive-thru. Man, I miss those.

    2. Here in Florida we have some excellent wine and spirits stores, but one of the best places to get wine is Publix grocery. They usually have baskets of sale wines by the door for $5 – $7. I’ll pick a couple samples up each month and we’ll try them as a table wine. If one turns out to be particularly good we go back and pick up a bunch for cheap. We’ll often pick up on trends before the prices move to follow – it is fun to see people paying $30 – $40 for a wine you picked up for five bucks.

      Of course, we have also had quite a few bottles of pure swill too. But hey, it’s an adventure!

  4. …which can easily be circumvented by minors by borrowing/stealing someone else’s license.

    Also, bringing a dog with you and making him breathe into the alcohol sensor should be enough to defeat the other feature. Well, unless your dog is drunk too.

    1. “look into a camera monitored by a liquor control board employee to prove you are the person you say you are, “

      1. right, because if the gov’t empoyee is really in a room somewhere not being monitored they will actually pay attention.

      2. They would do better with facial recognition software.

  5. Tip: Don’t use the wine vending machine in front of anybody you hope to seduce. Unless it’s a kid. They feel safe around mimes.

  6. As a fellow citizen of the commonwealth, I can assure you that this is some kind of trap. There will be state troopers waiting nearby these machines to get you for something. Mark my words!

    1. And I just figured out what it will be: Public lewdness for fellating the vending machine.

      1. that you exhale through your dick

        1. One of us doesn’t know the definition of fellating, and I’m not ruling out that it’s me. But above there is a picture of a dude preparing to fellate the wine dispenser.

          But I could be applying sinister motives to this. It could be as simple as the PA Liquor Control Board saying to Pennsylvania citizens, “You want grocery store wine? Fine, get on your knees and blow our vending machine and you can have your fucking grocery store wine.”

          1. Fist of Etiquette, I admit post fail and bow to your expertise on fellating 😉

  7. We also sell beer at 1 supermarket, statewide. baby steps, baby steps. Maybe the free market will work after all

    1. Yeah Wegmans! I think Sheetz got a ruling to allow sales from a convenience store in Altoona too!

      I can’t wait to fart in one of these stoopid machines.

  8. Great, so now the government will have a record of what you drink.

  9. Wine in a grocery store?

    Just 3.2% beer here (Ks).

    1. Texas sells wine at grocery stores (depending upon county) and relies upon grocery employees to conduct the transaction.

      California grocery stores offer twin packs of 1.75l store brand vodka right next to the mega packs of toilet paper.

      1. Safeway Select scotch.

  10. Don’t you people realize that 6 million people died in Illinois last year because liquor, beer, and wine are available at private retail businesses 7 days a week?

    1. Even more telling is the number of people who have died from availability of Dihydrogen Monoxide. Can you believe this dangerous chemical is in our water supply? It must be banned, for the children.

  11. Suckers! My local supermarket has a huge selection of wines and beers.

    1. And I can purchase them while drunk.

      1. You can make purchases 24hours a day seven days a week 😉

  12. Great, now they want a DNA sample to buy wine.

    Perhaps the state will next “have a look at your teeth” to make sure you aren’t a tweaker when you want to buy Sudafed.

  13. Thankfully, I’m less than 10 miles from the Delaware border where wine selection is tops and the prices 30% lower. Proudly following in the footsteps of smuggler John Hancock.

    1. Total Wine for the motherfucking win.

  14. Who makes these decisions? The people of Pennsylvania, or an entity wholly unaccountable to the wishes of the citizenry?

    1. Yes, their democratically elected representatives (by which I mean, the latter option).

  15. Louisiana and Nevada are the only two states in the nation with liquor laws worth emulating.

    Texas is okay, but the whole can’t buy beer/wine before noon on Sunday has tripped me up. I have to schedule my grocery shopping around that sometimes, which is inconvenient. The no hard liquor sales on sunday rule is crap, too.

    1. I live in Florida, and I can buy booze at 7 a.m. on Sundays. Try again.

      1. Louisiana wins because I can buy booze at the gas station. Gimme 20 bucks on pump 2 and a fifth of Jack.

        1. I…I can’t beat that. You drunkard.

        2. Don’t forget the drive-thru daiquiri shops (in LA) and as long as the straw is not in the daiquiri it’s not an open container.

      2. In Florida, counties regulate times of alcohol sales. You live in a fine county. I can’t purchase alcohol until 12 PM on Sundays in my county. Leads to the inevitable flood of beer sales by dudes in Bucs jerseys before the early game.

        1. Pardon me, I meant purchases, not sales.

    2. Iowa is another good one – we can buy beer, wine, liquer, pre-made drinks any where, any time…

  16. Pennsylvania’s budget shortfall aids drive to privatize liquor stores

    While efforts to privatize Pennsylvania’s 621 state liquor stores have circulated for years, some say the budgetary realities the state is facing could be the pressure that finally forces the issue.

    But the success of such a push could depend on which candidate next occupies the governor’s…..tfall.html

  17. When wine is outlawed, only outlaws will have wine.

    So will they do an instant background check to see how much wine you have bought within the last week? And then will they keep the record of that check and transaction?

    What about the notorious “wine tasting event loophole?”

    So many questions – this dangerous activity simply cries out for reasonable regulation!

  18. For all the other crap you have to put up with, at least Illinois has decent booze laws. My local supermarket has an entire aisle devoted to wine and beer, and there are two liquor stores within easy walking distance.

    Of course, I don’t drink, so… fuck Illinois after all.

    1. No – Illinois has okish liquor laws. The fact that brewers can only distribute through liquor distribution oligarchs is shameful. And it does annoy me that I can’t buy on a Sunday morning, since that’s the best time to do grocery shopping. But in spite of it all, we get pretty good alcohol.

  19. What, no urine test?

  20. I perused one of said machines at Wegmans last night. If you can get past the almost-parodic Big Brother camera and are a big fan of Yellowtail, these machines are probably a godsend. For the rest of us, they just serve to make the state stores look better by comparison.

  21. My wine is in a bucket. In the closet.

  22. Pennsylvania is a horrible place.

    1. Spending time in Pennsylvania is how I got over my self loathing being a Southerner.

      1. For all the South’s faults, at least the people are polite and the accents are pleasant. Not so in PA.

        1. You sure do have a purty mouth warty.

    2. Sharing a border with Ohio does that to you.

  23. a breathalyzer????? FOR FUCKS SAKE PEOPLE.

    I understad it’s an improvement. BUT FOR FUCKS SAKE PEOPLE!!!!!!

  24. Great, now an employee that doesn’t know shit about the product they’re selling can be rude to you on a screen instead of in person!

  25. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is rolling out wine vending machines

    Mangu must have cried in her pillow when she found out you scooped her on this story.

  26. Read the linked article. The LCB will install 98 machines state-wide. Sorry, Reason, there are more than 98 grocery stores across PA.

    Thus, Harrisburg is once again picking winners and losers in the private sector. This is not “a major step forward” — this is business-as-usual in PA.

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for vending machines at any non-unionized grocery store (be it Wal-Mart or mom-and-pop corner stores), or at any store over 1 hour from a border.

    1. Both of the current machines are in non-union stores (Wegmans and Giant Carlisle).

      But yeah, as a recent resident of PA, this place needs to fix its wine and especially its beer laws.

  27. I’m still surprised by how restrictive alcohol laws are in various places in the country. I grew up in New Orleans, so I thought it was normal for bars to stay open as late as they wanted, for Daquiri shops to have drive throughs, and for beer to be sold by street vendors directly to people on the street in the Quarter. Later I moved to Baton Rouge where you couldn’t buy Wine or Liquor on Sunday (unless it was a glass at a restaurant apparently). Bars still can’t open on Sunday.

    1. I was born in, and have lived most of my life in California, where the liquor laws are also fairly liberal (in the original sense of that word). When I was much younger, people would talk about legalizing marijuana and treating it “just like alcohol.” This made reasonable sense to me, as a relatively untraveled Californian. But in later years, I took some trips out of the country, and to cities in several other States, and I came back thinking that treating the weed “just like alcohol” might not be that great a model for pot legalization. Even the hamfisted treatment of alcohol in PA is better than prohibition, but not by a whole lot.

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