Wines sales in Mississippi grocery stores? Mississippi lawmaker thinks now is the time

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, November 25, 2020

One Mississippi lawmaker might make a toast to COVID-19 if he is able to finally pass a bill allowing some wines to be sold in grocery stores and other retailers.

District 25 Sen. Walter Michel told WLBT News that he plans to introduce a bill when the Legislature convenes in January to allow the sale of wines with higher volumes of alcohol in grocery stores.

Although Michel has introduced similar bills before without success, some advocates believe the COVID-19 pandemic could help pass the bill this time.

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Elliott Flaggs, the chair of the Looking for Wine Mississippi coalition, said being able to buy wines in the grocery store has become an issue of safety, reducing the number of stops shoppers have to make. Fewer stops means consumers do not have to risk exposing themselves to the virus at multiple stops.

Currently, grocers can sell light wines, but no beverages that contain five percent or more alcohol by weight.

Flaggs said a recent poll shows that 74 percent of Mississippi residents are in favor of wine sales in grocery stores.

Forty other states and the District of Columbia currently allow grocery wine sales, according to the Washington Post.

Many package store owners, though, are opposed to the measure, saying it could drive them out of business, and argue that grocery stores would sell the cheaper wines local mom and pop establishments rely on to drive revenue.

 Flaggs said if the bill doesn’t pass, he said Looking for Wine will consider moving forward with a ballot initiative, much like the one that recently passed allowing for medical marijuana. And like that measure, he believes an initiative to allow grocery store sales would pass.