retail news in context, analysis with attitude

In Pennsylvania, the Morning Call reports that the Wegmans in Allentown “has added a wine-by-the-glass feature at its Allentown store — one of the first in Pennsylvania with the service. The wine pours from a glass and metal vending machine bookended by wine glasses in the dining area of the store.”

According to the story, “The wine pours from a glass and metal vending machine bookended by wine glasses in the dining area of the store.

“Customers can purchase white and red wines with a prepay card at a cost of $6 to $10 for a 5-ounce glass. You can get a 2.5-ounce fill of wine for about half that price and a "sample" for $1 to $2. The Allentown machine is loaded with eight wines, including Hob Nob Chardonnay, Covey Run Riesling, Smoking Loon Pinot Grigio, Hob Nob Pinot Noir, Blackstone Merlot and Yellow Tail Cabernet.”

The offering is said to be a test, and other area Wegmans could get the machines if the test proves successful.
KC's View:
I actually wrote more than a decade ago about a similar system - made by Enomatic - that was being used at a San Francisco wine shop, and more recently I saw one being used in Sydney, Australia. I’ve been impressed each time, and wondered why the concept wasn’t getting more traction. It takes a forward-looking company like Wegmans to try an adapt it to the supermarket environment ... precisely because Wegmans doesn’t see itself being bound by traditional definitions.

Interestingly, there was a piece on Minyanville.com the other day speculating that “our favorite neighborhood wine joint may be the same place you buy soup and toilet paper. According to Napa Technology, wine lounges inside of mass market retailers are the new place to be. Retailers like Whole Foods, Wegmans, Harris Teeter, and Kroger have already found success in the trend. Many are taking it a step further and offering free entertainment, appetizers, and local musicians to create the ambiance of a real wine bar, complete with bar stools and stemware.

“In addition to a change of venue, you may start to see wine served in an entirely new way in 2011, as traditional wine bottles become an antiquated form of packaging. Napa Technology says the new trend in wine is tiny (think, mini-bar size) bottles.

“This new format allows consumers to dabble in pricier wines that they would otherwise not be able to afford in a full, traditional sized bottle. Likewise, you might soon notice a more impressive ‘by the glass’ list in your favorite eatery. Restaurants currently credit wine by the glass as accounting for 50 percent of total wine sales. Expect that trend to continue upward.”

Count me in.