Wine is more popular than ever in the US. It recently overtook beer as the most consumed drink in the country and as a whole the US consumes more wine yearly than any other country…lushes that we are. For that reason, wine retailers are popping up all over the place, both on the internet and in your local neighborhoods. With all of the options out there, its hard to decipher where the best place to purchase your favorite wine selections may be.
The truth is that it comes down to the kind of person you are. If you are looking for that personal experience, where you can form a relationship with your local wine guy, then you probably want to find a good local shop. There are many throughout the county, Zachys in Scarsdale being the most well known. But you also have Grapes in White Plains, Dodd’s in Millwood, Suburban in Yorktown, and Mt. Kisco Wine & Spirits up here in Mt. Kisco among many others.
The problem is that many of these wine shops are no longer just shops. The massive beverage depots are more and more prevalent, like the Westchester Wine Warehouse, Stew Leonards and BevMax in Port Chester. You will find a ton of selection at these types of retailers, but you may not get the same one on one attention as the little wine shop around the corner. Of course those little shops will typically be more expensive because they don’t carry the selection or inventory of the larger places. So you can chalk up the premium you’re paying to the hand holding you receive in purchasing your wines.
If you are looking for the best deals out there, forget about the physical stores and hit the web. There are many wine retail sites and flash sites that are selling wines significantly lower than in stores, sometimes really close to cost! The reason is many times they don’t have to take inventory, or because they aren’t paying rent for a physical store front so they can work on tighter margins. Many websites will offer wonderful service as well where you can receive advice and recommendations… but others are as inexpensive as they are because they employ order takers rather than a staff with a working knowledge of wine.
You also need to remember to take shipping costs and delivery time into consideration when ordering online. So be sure when you find your favorite wines on a particular wine retail website to check on the shipping rates. Most will offer free shipping on certain bottle totals, but not all do. If not, it can really add to the per bottle cost when it’s all said and done.
So the moral of the story? You probably want to do both! If you know what you want and are looking for the best deal, then hit the web or one of those mega wine warehouses. But if you are looking for some coddling in your wine decision, then check out your local shop and see if your local wine guy or gal knows what he/she is talking about. Take a recommendation or two to test it out. If he can read your palate, score! If not… you can always email me here and I can see if I can help you make some well suited wine selections.
What’s your favorite wine shop in Westchester? Let us know!
5 thoughts on “Where To Buy Wine: Online or at Your Local Wine Shop?”
I have yet to be impressed with a wine store (or their staff) since moving to the US, but that is also because I am so used to buying straight at the wine maker’s in Germany. Shipping charges in the US are insanely high and deter from buying wine online. It is tricky.
I agree about the shipping charges, makes it very tricky indeed. However depending on the store I have see some pretty knowledgeable folks at the smaller stores…but it’s certainly not the norm. Thanks for the comment!
Yes, you’re right. I have by now met some knowledgeable staff, but it is not the norm…
I like Vintology in Scarsdale. If I had my choice between them and Zachys, it would be Vintology. Why? Real service and well selected wines. Size definitely does not matter here, quality does. You should check them out.
I tend to agree David, I would probably take Vintology over Zachy’s excpet that Zachy’s Saturday tastings are pretty impressive. Lots of great wines and zero pressure to buy. Vintology’s inventory is a tad lacking too but I think the staff there is fantastic. Thanks for the comment!