Wegmans offering glass of wine

Pilot program at Allentown store could expand to two others in Keystone State.

I was having lunch with a few friends at the Wegmans in Allentown several months ago when somebody jokingly said it would be good to have the meal with some wine.

I guess the idea is on the minds of many diners now that the grocer 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.

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.

Allentown is one of the “testing sites” for the wine-by-the-glass feature. It was not immediately known if the Wegmans in Lower Nazareth Township or Hanover Township, Northampton County, would get the machine. Company spokeswoman Jo Natale said other stores being eyed for the machines could be Downingtown, Chester County, and Warrington, Bucks County.

Wegmans sells wine through its restaurant liquor licenses, which also allows the grocer to sell six- and 12-pack beers.

Jeff Metzger, publisher of the food industry trade magazine Food World, said Wegmans’ wine-by-the-glass feature is just another piece of the chain’s effort to break the typical “supermarket” template.

He said Wegmans has been known for “innovating new ideas” in the grocery and food service industry.

Wegmans and other chains like Whole Foods are becoming strong contenders in dining as well as groceries. Wegmans already has its popular Market Café with dishes like sushi, pizza, steak and Thai food. The Allentown store is taking that a step further by adding signs suggesting wine-by-the-glass pairings, officials said.