New York City, the land of delicious bagels, street cart hot dogs, and thanks to archaic regulations, ubiquitous liquor stores. But not all wine shops are created equal—many specialize in organic or biodynamic, have storied histories, or are hidden neighborhood gems known for great prices on special vintages. Head uptown for the long-standing institutions generations have relied on to stockpile their wine fridges. Go downtown and across the East River to find interesting bottles from smaller producers or those experimenting with growing techniques and unusual grapes. Here are eight shops worth making a special wine run to.
Acker, Merrall & Condit (160 W. 72nd St): Built in an era of Italian marble floors, this Upper West Side shop opened in 1820 and stocks over 2,000 premium wines, with dozens of $12 or less vintages. In addition to the store, they have a warehouse filled with thousands of bottles so if you’re looking for something specific, call a day or so ahead.
Ambassador Wine & Spirits (1021 Second Ave): Nestled in the shadows of Midtown East’s office high-rises is the last place you’d expect a wine and liquor shop focusing on rare & little-known bottles. Ambassador hand-picks every bottle of their impressive collection, and the real treat is to head downstairs into their cellar.
Astor Wines (399 Lafayette St): One of the most famous shops in all of New York City still has exactly what it’s known for: bottles upon bottles of wine from almost everywhere in the world, in almost every style, at almost every price point. The staff is as knowledgeable as ever, and it’s always easy to find someone to help you pick out what you need.
Garnet Wines (929 Lexington Ave): Upper East Siders know to get off the 6 at 68th Street and stop by neighborhood stalwart Garnet. The store stocks bottles from pretty much everywhere, with one of the best collections of affordable wines on the entire island.
Kit’s Underground (Columbus Circle): Attached to one of New York City’s busiest subway stations is the last place you’d expect to find a wine shop, but there’s Kit’s Underground in the TurnStyle market. Every bottle gets an in-depth handwritten description, with more than half of them being under $20.
La Vid Wine & Spirits (315 Avenue of the Americas): A city that never sleeps definitely has wine shops open late, but few stock novel bottles made from unique grapes or in unusual locations like you find at “open until midnight” La Vid. The extra bonus is the free delivery.
Uva Wines (199 Bedford Ave): The hippest street in Brooklyn is remarkably home to one of the most easygoing wine shops, Uva. They focus on biodynamic and organic wines from small producers at affordable prices, with a staff on-hand that can walk you through the options. Plus, everyone in the neighborhood loves their frequent buyer card.
Union Square Wines (140 Fourth Ave): Union Square Wines boasts a still rarely seen, the-future-is-now, 48-bottle Tuscan technology contraption for tasting wine, a machine many novices and experts utilize to pick out which of the 2,500 bottles filling the store are best for tonight’s dinner.