Following my recent detour through the wine shops of Winnipeg, my business travels recently took me to New York City. With just a few minutes between meetings, I managed to steal away and check out some shops recommended by none other than Decanter and Brooklynguy. I even dropped in on a shop near my hotel. Here are some thoughts on those stops:
Beekman Liquors (500 Lex, btw 47th/48th): Located in very close proximity to my hotel, this was a drop in. I saw a sign and it said "WINE", so I really didn't have a choice. Over the years I have dropped in on a number of Manhattan wine shops, and this one seemed very similar - crowded, and packed to the rafters with wine. While the shop was difficult to navigate, the wine consultant was helpful and very knowledgeable. Definitely worth a visit if in the neighbourhood.
Pros: Knowledgeable wine staff, broad/deep selection.
Cons: Crowded, a bit run down, good stuff standing up on a warm shelf.
Crush Wine & Spirits (57th at Lex): Following a complimentary comment in Decanter, I have been meaning to drop in on this shop. A prime retail location, this store is definitely going for a hip, trendy feel, with some Bjork goin' on in the background. No one will ever accuse me of being hip or trendy, but I liked the format. The wines were well organized by grape, but the prices were not always marked and it was hard to read the labels with the bottles on their sides, as esthetics trumped reason. The staff were knowledgeable and helpful, tolerating my detailed inspection of every bottle in the store. A nice range of inexpensive to hedonistic, with a proper cellar at the back for the good stuff. I especially liked that they stocked a number of vintages of the collector items, making it possible to build out a vertical in some cases. Worth a visit!
Pros: A good range of carefully selected wines - top selling labels beside unique selections.
Cons: Hard to read the labels with the bottles on their sides.
Burgundy Wine Co. (26th St. W. btw. 6th and 7th): On a mission for Oregon Pinot Noir, Brooklynguy recommended I stop here. Somewhat out of the way, this was (as you can imagine) a very focused collection of wine - Burgundies, Oregon, and Rhone wines (not sure I see that connection!). Anyway, the guy there made great suggestions and the layout was attractive, with lots of space. While they did not have a cellar per se, the store was dark and the temperature was cool, so they are doing the right thing. The Oregon Pinot selections were rather limited that day, but I managed to walk away with two bottles. Worth a visit!
Pros: Excellent if you like Burgundy, Oregon and Rhone wines.
Cons: Don't go here for wines from elsewhere!
A quick comment on pricing. I did not have a chance to comparison shop, so I cannot tell you who has the best prices. Check the web, or perhaps some New Yorkers will leave some tips for the best prices in Manhattan?
Overall, I would shop at all of these places again, and I was successful in obtaining two bottles of Oregon Pinot - 2004 Cristom Marjorie vineyard.
A notable miss: It was also suggested that I check out Chambers Street Wines, but I will be back in three weeks...