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September 15, 2021

Self-serve wine tanks coming to a store near you?

One of the great reasons to visit Europe – or, heck, even the U.S. – is the prospect of buying your booze from a grocery store.

If wine is your bag, visit your favourite market down by Paris’ river Seine, grab a bottle alongside your baguette, meat and cheese, and you’re set. It’s a system that fosters one-stop-shop convenience.

But even the French have found a way to one-up themselves when it comes to wine distribution, and perhaps their latest innovation could soon be on its way to stores this side of the Atlantic.

Indeed, the latest modernization of France’s wine trade should be peaking the interest of international retailers and consumers alike. According to, French supermarkets have now begun allowing shoppers to buy their wine from a self-serve distribution tank.

Check out the accompanying image to the left to see how intriguing this product is, but the futuristic-looking wine vending machines, despite their Lost In Space  appearance, have reportedly been received as a “Hey, how did it take us until now to think of this?”-style consumer improvement.

The self-serve kiosks are simple: grocers place them in their stores with either 500 or 1,000-litre wine tanks inside. Shoppers come into the supermarkets with any refillable container – be it a jerrycan, empty water cooler jug or whatever – and fill up themselves much as they would at a fountain pop station. After they pour, the amount is measured, the cost is calculated, and payment is received right at the machine.

The reaction of customers to the wine dispensers has been shock at first, one French grocer has said, but they then “warm up to the idea, especially after a taste. They come back often.”

Now, a warm consumer reaction is nice, but it’s the numbers behind these self-serve wine kiosks that make their North American debut all but inevitable.

According to, the lowered costs to retailers of buying in bulk have been passed onto French shoppers, who can buy midrange-quality wine from the dispensers for only about $2 per litre.

Since many of Canada’s liquor distribution laws don’t allow alcohol to be sold by grocers and corner stores, there may be some hiccups as to when such wine vending machines can arrive here, at home.

But who’s to say provincial-run liquor stores across the country couldn’t adopt these as a means to stir things up and give short-term sales a significant boost?

Because, wine dispensers won’t stay exclusive to France for long. By the Consumerist’s measure, they could be hitting stores in the U.S., at least, within the next year.

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

(*Image courtesy:



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...