Top five wine shops in Manhattan

1) Crush Wine: Best wine tastings. Fine dining wine served in fine dining setting with great stemware. When you buy here, there’s no fear of bringing the same bottle to a party as your buddy from across town (Prom Night nightmare for the wine fan set). Search for these wines, and they’ll only come up on Crush’s site. Strong for small producers and values on collector quality wine. Best for French, German, interesting California. Not much Pacific Northwest (a lot of those wineries work with direct sales). Organization of store by grape is a bold and valid choice.  As a bonus, staff look and act like something out of “High Fidelity.”  Grand Cru wine geeks.

2) Le Dû’s Wines: Owner has best palate in the Village. No duds, no Yellow Tail. Wonderfully deep in French. Great price range. Just getting to know them.

3) Sherry-Lehmann: Greatest depth and breadth in fine wine, especially Grand and Premier Cru French. Where to go for Margaux, futures, big names and to run into really rich people. If you happen to need a bottle of white Port for ten bucks, they have that too.

4) PJ’s Wine: Some exceptional values and rarities. Once found an obscure Muller Thurgau here at a steep discount over one other place in town that carried it. Same wine served in Alto. Delivery at 100 dollar mark (versus 150 most places), so remote location isn’t a problem. Wonderful selection of Spanish wine that surpasses the expensive East Siders.

5) Union Square Wines: USQ has a pretty amazing marketing device in its new tasting machines. We’ll see how it holds up. The new Barnes&Noble of wine.


5 Responses to “Top five wine shops in Manhattan”

  1. Food Fan Says:

    I’d note that Crush has shifted away from the under 15 dollar category and nearly abandoned the under 20. You have to do a full knee bend to find these “bargain everyday” wines now and they don’t show much interest in handselling them. Ask for 20 and under and you’ll get started at 22. Yes, they’re bargain bins around the store, but they’re not very exciting.

    Even worse, the look of the store and the feel of the tasting room are in serious decline. On my last three visits, the store was stacked with boxes for fulfillment orders, and the staff was completely distracted by taking them. The once beautiful shop now looks more like a warehouse. I guess the internet and telephone business is more lucrative–Sherry-Lehman does most of its business this way– but it’s sad to see the instore experience become so marginal.

    Even more disappointing is the decline in the once jewel-like tasting room. It now serves as the de facto headquarters for the Geek Squad of laptoppers doing the online orders. This distracted crew makes anyone wishing to taste wine feel like he’s breaking into a computer cluster in the middle of a particularly intense online gaming session.

    I’m shifting my business to Chamber Street and Moore Brothers, two stores that value value and respect the retail experience. Sorry to say, I’d vote crush down a few notches on your list.

  2. tigerdog Says:

    I’d add 1) Italian Wine Merchants on 16th Street off Union Square and 2) Vino on E. 27th, just for their deep and exclusive commitment to Italy and their fruitful rivalry. Same goes for 3) Tinto Fino and Iberia–though its only competitor is the encyclopedic but deep in Spain PJ’s. Finally, there’s 4) Burgundy Wine Company in Chelsea. The latter claims also to sell Oregon wines in the Burgundian style, but I haven’t seen any.

    Don’t know about other super-specialized shops in the City, but I’d like to hear more. I can’t imagine a Austrian/German-only place could thrive here, though perhaps attached to a Danube or a Wallse it could.

    Of course, we’ve long had a New York state only wine shops, but I just can’t get that excited about the offerings.

    A final note. USQ wines at Fresh Direct are a vast improvement over Best Cellars’ selections. And the liquor options are at least as good. Yes, the prose isn’t as witty as Wesson’s but the wine is more pleasing to this palate.

  3. tigerdog Says:

    Moore Brothers gets the axe after a recent order with too many funky bottles. I’m back to PJ, Chamber Street and USQ in a rotation pattern. Jean Luc Le Du will be put to the test in a few months when my unsung bordeaux arrive.

  4. tigerdog Says:

    USQ’s free Saturday tastings are giving it more of an edge. Lots of food and booze. Not the Simpsons Comic Book Guy level of knowledge of a Lyle Fass, or the Simpsons Comic Book Guy look of Crush’s sales force, but a fun way to spend a no obligations Saturday. Two tastings series I’m interested in are 1) Burgundy Wine Company 2) Rosenthal Wine Merchants. Neither gets much publicity. Both bring in great wines.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Just placed an order with CSW at the end of July. They were moving soon and started a 20% off sale on August 1st. My order was processed ahead of that date, but they gave me the full discount anyway. Great unprodded hospitality and customer relations! I hope they find a new space soon.

    I also hope the euro goes in the tank, because it’s getting harder and harder to stay under my 20-buck bottle limit, even when I stick to unsung regions and grapes. 12 is the new 10 buck bottle and pretty soon 25 will be the new 20. And American producers are doing nothing to take advantage of their currency advantage, which should allow them to exploit a huge price gap. If European wine prices are up 50%, couldn’t American wines exploit the spread just a bit to improve their Price to quality ratio?

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