How To Shop For Wine Safely During the Coronavirus Outbreak

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You’ve stocked up on food staples, queued up what to watch on Netflix, and now, you’ve only got one thing left to do: figure out how to safely get wine during the coronavirus outbreak. Well, wash your hands and listen up from the appropriate social distance, because there are still plenty of safe ways for you to have that glass of pinot.

Is It Safe To Go To Liquor Stores?

Like shopping for groceries during the coronavirus outbreak or any other sort of public activity, buying alcohol from a store comes with some risk. Being in a crowded place — like a liquor store during peak hours — poses a greater possibility of coming in contact with someone who is infected and contracting the novel coronavirus. As person-to-person contact (through the transmission of infected respiratory droplets) appears to be how COVID-19 is primarily spreading, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended gatherings over 10 people be canceled or postponed for at least the next few weeks. Limiting the number of shopping trips you make is likely the best option. And yes, that applies to liquor stores as well.

When you do go shopping, be mindful of what you touch and give fellow shoppers as much space as possible. And, in case it hasn’t been drilled into your brain already, don’t touch your face and wash your hands once you get home. If you want to be extra cautious, wipe down any bottles, cans, or products with non-porous surfaces you bought with soap and water or disinfectant.

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Can I Get Wine Delivered To My House?

Unless you live in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Utah, chances are good you can have wine shipped to your doorsteps. (Those three states are the only ones that specifically prohibit direct-to-consumer shipment of alcohol, per the National Conference of State Legistalurres’s page on the direct shipment of alcohol in the United States. Apologies to all Alabamians, Oklahomans, and Utahns.)

While many states have some restrictions on what kind of alcohol can be shipped directly to consumers and how — Delaware requires orders to be processed and shipped through licensed wholesalers and Rhode Island allows alcohol to be shipped but only when purchased on-site — most states allow beer and wine to be shipped straight to you.

Are Wine Delivery Services Safe?

As with food delivery safety, liquor drop off comes with some hypothetical risk as well. There are a few key things to keep in mind to keep yourself and those around you safe: Limit contact with your delivery person, utilize contact-free drop off when possible, and wash your hands. Wiping down deliveries like you would items from the grocery stores will also help reduce your risk of interacting with the virus.

Popular liquor delivery service Drizly is implementing certain precautions in order to keep customers and drivers safe per their website. While contact-free alcohol deliveries can’t be guaranteed as in-person confirmation is often required for legal and safety reasons, Drizly is encouraging things like outside delivery drops, contactless ID scanning, and eliminating the need for customer signatures.

If you’re able to avoid the store entirely, you won’t be lack for choice when it comes to wine delivery. There are wine subscription and wine delivery programs like Usual Wines, Vinebox, Winc where you can spend some of this self-isolation finding your new go-to wine. Favorites like Rosé All Day and Cupcake wine can be bought through third-party sites like Big Hammer Wines and Wine.com.

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Have Wine Makers Been Impacted?

While wine availability may depend on where you live, major wine makers are still producing but with more caution. "We have made many changes to our business over the past few weeks," Anna Bell, vice president of marketing at Barefoot Wine, tells Bustle over email. "While we are quickly adjusting to real-time changes affecting how and where consumers are able to engage with us, we continue to work closely with our suppliers, distributors, customers and sales teams and appreciate all of their extra efforts to ensure our fans are still able to access and enjoy Barefoot during this time." Molly Davis, vice president of marketing for Apothic at E. & J. Gallo Winery, spoke to Bustle over email and also emphasized the up-to-date changes Apothic is making to ensure consumer and worker safety.

"We continue to work with our environmental health and safety teams to provide a safe workplace for our production and sales team members who are unable to work remotely," a representative for Gallo, which owns both Apothic and Barefoot Wines, told Bustle over email. "We have made many adjustments to our business, including increased sanitization measures and social distancing and we are providing additional resources to support our employees who are unable to work remotely."

Like many other major wine makers, both Apothic and Barefoot are available to order on Drizly or through the The Barrel Room. So, you'll still be able to sip your favorite (or most $10) wines at home.

Are Liquor Stores Considered “Essential Business”?

In states that have shuttered nonessential businesses and closed schools, some places are still allowed or required to stay open during COVID-19-related closures. Health and medical facilities are, of course, still open, and grocery stores and restaurants aren’t required to completely shut their doors. Additionally, liquor stores, in most states, are staying open.

In Maryland, according to the Baltimore Sun, convenience stores and liquor stores are exempt from nonessential business shutdowns. While wineries and distilleries must close, they can still offer pick-up and delivery services. Per the Seattle Times, some stores that sell liquor and cannabis are staying open during shut-downs though that comes with a couple of caveats. “Liquor stores that sell food” and “workers supporting cannabis retail and dietary supplemental retail” are deemed essential per Washington state’s nonessential business shutdown.

Pennsylvania has closed its liquor stores amidst shelter-in-place ordinances for a significant portion of the population, as reported by Business Insider. However, doesn’t appear to be the trend in other states. Also, beer and wine are still available at grocery stores.

In other words, you’ll still be able to sip on your sauvignon blanc while enjoying virtual happy hours. But please, quarantine and drink responsibly.