It’s not hard to find a wine store throughout the five boroughs—there are hundreds of ’em. But only a select few encompass the hard-to-find features that make the best liquor stores truly great. What are the hallmarks of an assuredly epic wine store? Helpful staff members eager to share their practiced-but-not-preachy knowledge; an impressive selection of vinous (and spirituous) bottles ranging in country, varietal and price point; stellar consumer education programs featuring frequent (and free) in-store tastings, monthly newsletters and organized classes. We found the best right here in New York City, perfect for when you don’t have time for entire drinking day trips. You’ll know exactly what to order the next time you visit the city’s best wine bars.
Best wine stores in NYC
Astor is a bona fide wine megastore. Offering plenty of walking space between its vino-verdant shelves, Astor is a tranquil respite from the crowded chaos of lower Manhattan where you’re able to peruse thousands of potables, both common and obscure, from around the world. And if you like what you taste, speak up: Astor offers a 20 percent discount on any wine and a 10 percent discount on any spirit that’s poured the day of the tasting.
Tastings info: Free in-store wine and spirits tastings are held daily—just check the website for exact times.
Not only will you have access to over 2,500 international labels at this centrally located wine emporium, you’ll also be able to sample a smattering of vintages via an enomatic machine, an automatic wine dispenser, so you can try before you buy.
Tastings info: Drop in for free daily tastings—just check the website for times.
This Upper East Side bedrock has been enabling thirsty New Yorkers’ habits since 1934. Today, the vinous oasis houses more than 3,000 bottles and boasts some of the finest customer service in the borough. But if you can’t find that limited edition Slovenian Pinot, let the clerk know—the shop offers a thrice-daily shuttle between its Park Avenue storefront and its Brooklyn warehouse, which shelters nearly 7,000 labels.
Tastings info: Free in-store tastings are held Monday through Friday from 3-5pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 2-4pm.
As you walk through the narrow entryway of this intimate Tribeca gem, it’s easy to become distracted by the timeworn grape-growing maps canvassing the walls. But as your eyes begin to refocus, you quickly become enraptured by its expansive wine and spirits offerings, which include everything from biodynamic wines to vintage amaros.
Tastings info: Free in-store tastings are held daily at varying times.
This 2015 neighborhood newcomer with both traditional and offbeat varietals is a welcomed addition to Clinton Hill. The astute yet approachable staff are always happy to direct you to your libation of choice, whether it’s a Bordeaux blend or a Brooklyn-based artisanal whiskey.
Tastings info: Follow the shop’s Twitter for times of frequent in-store tastings.
Appellation is your one-stop shop for all wines organic, biodynamic and au naturel. Unsure of the difference between the three? Just ask owner Scott Pactor. He’s often in the shop and always delighted to discuss the tenets of low-to-no intervention farming and winemaking.
Tastings info: In-store wine and spirits tastings are held on Friday and Saturday evenings at varying times (just check the website for the latest).
A rolling-track ladder is a solid indicator of a good wine shop. Slope Cellars uses one to reach a wall-to-wall collection of global bottles, marked by an impressive assortment of French wines as well as a broad selection of $12-and-under offerings. Look for organic and local wines marked with a star.
Tastings info: Free in-store two-hour wine and spirits tastings are typically held Thursdays through Sundays (there’s a calendar on its website).
This Upper East Side wine standout has been tugging at New Yorkers’ heartstrings for over 20 years, and for good reason—it’s cheap and convenient. Not only does Garnet house an awe-inspiring selection of wines between $10 and $25 from nearly every viticultural region in the world, it also offers free delivery anywhere in Manhattan with a minimum purchase of $50.
Tastings info: Stop by for free in-store wine tastings every Friday and Saturday from 3-6pm.
Smith & Vine has perfected the art of wine sales. Alongside its well-curated offering of $12-and-under bottles, this Brooklyn beacon offers wine six-packs to go and regular happy hours where various types of wines and spirits are available at discounted prices. And when you’re done with your purchase, head up the street to Stinky BKLYN for some Taleggio to to go with that Pinot.
Tastings info: Free in-store tastings are often held Thursday through Saturday—check its Twitter for times.