Tennessee grocery stores may soon start selling wine

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 9/26/2013 6:50 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - If state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey's prediction is true, then grocery stores will soon start legally selling wine off the shelf.
Ramsey told reporters a bill will be approved this next session and that's not sitting too well with the owner of one of the oldest liquor stores in Chattanooga.

Steve Gilbert is the owner of Dodge City Liquors and he believes a bill passed by state lawmakers to approve the sell of wine in supermarkets will cause area liquor stores to loose up to 20-percent of their sales.

"Take 20 percent off your pay and what's that going to do? So you know it will effect a lot of us. Most of us small and medium size stores. It's going to effect us," Gilbert said who also believes a loss of 20-percent in sales could lead to liquor store owners laying of employees.

Current law prevents grocery stores from selling any alcoholic drinks stronger than beer. But now that it looks like state lawmakers are more likely to change the law this up coming session, some wine drinkers say they don't mind buying it from the the local supermarket.

"Well it would be much easier since you're there shopping for your groceries and go ahead and choose your wine. One stop for all," said Glenda Perich of Chattanooga.

But wine connoisseur beware, Gilbert said you most likely won't find the best selection of wines at a supermarket.

"They're probably going to pick the top 10 or 20 cheaper wines. And that's going to be it. I got a $900 bottle of wine in here. They're not going to have the $30, $40 or $60 bottles of wine," Gilbert said.

He also made the argument that there's no guarantee supermarkets will hire wine experts to sell their bottles.

"There's a real education into knowing your wines. The clerks most likely are not going to have that type of expertise so we can accommodate them a whole lot better than a grocery store could," Gilbert said.

Only time will tell how this all plays out among state law makers casting the votes. Many lawmakers reportedly received a backlash from their constituents after the failure of this years bill in the House.
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