Numerous attempts at reform have been turned back by special interests intent on keeping their slice of the pie. So simply stocking Chianti and cabernet on supermarket shelves is not an option under the state’s post-Prohibition liquor laws. The liquor board has tried to be more consumer-friendly in recent years, including opening 19 full-service state stores in supermarkets. The board touts the kiosks as another step toward modernization – “an added level of convenience in today’s busy society,” liquor board Chairman Patrick Stapleton said in a statement.
Not everyone is swallowing that line. Craig Wolf, president and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, questioned the machines’ efficacy in preventing sales to minors.
Keith Wallace, president and founder of The Wine School of Philadelphia, described the kiosks as well-intentioned failures with limited selections and overtones of Big Brother. “The process is cumbersome and assumes the worst in Pennsylvania’s wine consumers – that we are a bunch of conniving underage drunks,” Wallace wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press. “(Liquor board) members are clearly detached from reality if they think these machines offer any value to the consumer.”