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If you had to pick a wine shop (this goes for price, selection, customer service and storage quality) in the greater DC area, which would it be? I have most consistently gone to CW over the past couple of years with visits Magruders, Schneiders of Cap Hill, CC Wine & Spirits, Pearson's & Circle.

I found the Magruders to have good prices on certain bottles (i.e. Allegrini Palazzo della Torre for $14.99) but not very good customer service. CW has nice a Bordeaux and Burgandy selection and good weekly deals, but it gets so cramped there sometimes. Pearsons has a very friendly and knowledgeable staff, but their prices are very high. CC Wine & Spirits has some occasional good deals in their Monday Post ads, but the store always seems dirty to me. I have not been to Wide World of Wines, but have heard good things about them...especially their Champagnes.

Edited by alan7147
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we probably buy 90% of our wine at CW and deal with Pepe who usually steers us in the right direction - its close to our house, albeit not as close as Ch Ch Liquors but we haven't been back since some arrogant little twerp there insulted my wife and daughter - pity, as I love their beer selection

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If I could only shop at one store it would be Wide World on Wisconsin. The staff, is as knowledgable as you can find, the selection is light on California wines, but one of the best Bordeaux, Rhone, Aussie, Champange, Spanish selections in country.

The free Saturday tastings are all done out of glasses, no plastic. Also, the wines that are tasted can range in price from the low teens to over $100. Also unlike Pearson's, CW, or Schneiders it is an easy store to browse, with a low pressure friendly staff. I could go one, but I am drinking a free bottle of '04 Amon Ra that was left over from last Saturday's tasting.

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I live near MacArthur Beverages, and have been shopping there more frequently, now that they take Amex, my credit card of choice. It's easy to browse there, and their inventory is huge--especially France and Italy. Their consultants are very knowledgeable and friendly. The time to shop there is when they have sales. There's almost always a tasting on Saturday afternoon.

Rodman's in Friendship Heights has a very eclectic selection from around the world, and seems to focus primarily on lower-priced wines. How was an $8 pinot noir from Roumania made by a winemaker from Burgundy? Not bad. Lots of stuff from South America, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, even Russia. I just wish it wasn't so cramped--it's a challenge to browse, but I almost always find interesting things there. The two guys who run the wine dept. have been there for years, and are very helpful. They've tasted most of what they sell and can talk about and compare various wines you may be considering.

I also like Paul's, across the street from Rodman's, which has good sales, although their selection is smaller than some other places. They will always match other stores' sale prices, if you can quote them. They have tastings on Friday evenings and have very good mixed case discounts.

Arrowine in Arlington is an occasional stop for me. Doug Rosen is very passionate about wine. If you've seen Mondovino, he's very much in the Neal Rosenthal camp, and hates the "international" style, fruit-forward wines that I happen to like, though he sells them. I like Doug, even though he refers to fruit-bomb Aussie Shirazes as "pancake syrup". They have good e-mail sales. I don't buy much there because they don't take Amex. I love their cheese and deli department.

I also go to Total in McLean, Magruder's, and Wide World of Wine.

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I really like Tony and Mike at Cleveland Park Wine & Spirits across from the Uptown Theater. No pretention, always something interesting open to taste, lots of good values, and lots of interesting, esoteric, boutique-ish wines. They do quite a few interesting wine dinners as well.

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I can't see limiting myself to one store, except I'm trying to limit myself to just my allocation lists (it isn't working). I really enjoy the selection and service at McArthurs and Schneiders. Potomic Wine in Georgetown is where I go to get wine for Passover, and the Wine Specialist has some interesting things, but they are very pricy. However, one should never complain about prices in DC until they have tried to shop for fine wines in Montgomery County.

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DC has a large number of good stores. Of the ones mentioned, I shop Mcarthur's and occasionallySchneiders.

Tony and Mike are neighbors in Cleveland Park and I love their eclectic approach. They champion small independent distributors which I love. I also like Circle and Mr. Kumar. He has a good palate and their selection is well balanced with the exception of Germany and Alsace. They also have some great spirits as well.

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Indeed, Kumar is great -

Next time you are in there, get him talking about his garden - he has an amazing green thumb!

I also like the Vineyard VA in McLean - good ol' Jim Arsenault is running the show and has an amazing knowledge of wines and what is cool, tasty, hip, affordable, etc.....

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I moved here a couple of months ago from NY and I have yet to find a wine store that has someone who is enthusiastic about Gruner Veltliner and Reislings. Most stores I have been to have, say, four reislings and one or two GVs.

I had a favorite wine store called "Nancy's Wine for Food" ; Nancy was advised by the guy who wrote "The Wine Avenger" which is only about 100 pages and is pretty funny, by the way. In any event, I miss it and look forward to finding an enthusiast at a wine shop (it's not CW; I've tried) or at a restaurant. Thanks!

Edited by MeMc
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I moved here a couple of months ago from NY and I have yet to find a wine store that has someone who is enthusiastic about Gruner Veltliner and Reislings.   Most stores I have been to have, say, four reislings and one or two GVs.  

I had a favorite wine store called "Nancy's Wine for Food" ; Nancy was advised by the guy who wrote "The Wine Avenger" which is only about 100 pages and is pretty funny, by the way.  In any event, I miss it and look forward to finding an enthusiast at a wine shop (it's not CW; I've tried) or at a restaurant.  Thanks!

John Wabeck at Firefly was pouring some nice Gruner at his wined down happy hour recently.

edited to add: And welcome to DR.com MeMc.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I moved here a couple of months ago from NY and I have yet to find a wine store that has someone who is enthusiastic about Gruner Veltliner and Reislings.  Most stores I have been to have, say, four reislings and one or two GVs.

I moved away from DC about 10 months ago, but unless things have changed significantly, you should be able to find a good selection of rieslings at these two stores:

Schneider's

MacArthur (carries Terry Thiese selections)

Both stores post their wine selections online. Circle (on Conn Ave south of Chevy Chase Circle) has a decent selection of new world rieslings as well; not so great a German collection though.

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I've been shopping for wine at the retail level more frequently these days (I buy a lot off of wine mailing lists direct from small production wineries, like dinwiddie) since I have fallen hard for Brunellos and Italian wines in general. I usually head to MacArthur's but I also like Circle. CW is usually too crowded and cramped to my liking. I keep meaning to head to Schneider's or WOW on Wisconsin, but I keep forgetting to get there. Cecile's Fine Wine in Mclean is good too. I just recently went to Arrowine for the first time and I liked it well enough.

Up in Howard County, I can recommend Jason's on Rte 40 and Decanter in Hickory Ridge.

I only ever shop at the Total Wine-owned Corridor Wine in Laurel (close to my home) for cheap wines. Otherwise I avoid it like the plague.

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Hi, everyone. New member here -- posting for the first time and glad to be part of this group.

I'm surprised to see that Bell Wine & Spirits on M Street hasn't been mentioned. The staff is very helpful (especially Bo) and the selection is pretty good. It also doesn't hurt that it's practically across the street from my office, making it the most accessible wine shop in town.

Hands down, the best place in this area (I'm extending the DC area to include Annapolis) is Wine Cellars of Annapolis on Forest Drive. For those of you within easy driving distance, or those who are willing to travel to Annapolis, I promise this place will be worth the trip. They specialize in smaller producers from around the world and the inventory changes all the time. The folks at Wine Cellars have taught me so much about wine and have developed my appreciation for lesser-known affordable wines from all over the world.

Along with its fantastic staff, what sets Wine Cellars apart from the others is a willingness to open lots of wine and let you TASTE it before you buy. Every Saturday, they host a complimentary tasting focused on a region or a grape or a style -- and they always have a dozen or so bottles open for customers to sample.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It really is a fantastic place. And, no, I am not affiliated in any way. I just spend a frightening portion of my income there. :P

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Welcome Lola. Sounds like a great place. Care to share the names of some of your favorites?

Thank you for the nice welcome, Joe!

Oh -- there are so many wonderful wines Wince Cellars has introduced me to. Let me think...for whites, I'd have to say Ken Forrester's Petit Chenin, Lawsons Dry Hills Sauvignon Blanc, Moreson Chenin Blanc, Yalumba Viognier, Alice et Olivier De Moor Chablis Rosette...

For reds, Domaine du Dragon, Los Planos Grandes Vinos Y Vinedos Syrah, Summers Merlot, White Cottage Risa Cab, Bacio Divino Proprietary Red...

There are just SO MANY! I'm looking forward to the Fattorio Paradiso tasting this Saturday...

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I know that this is slightly off of the topic that I started in relation to DC wine stores, but as far as buying wine online I really like Wine Exchange...good prices and selection. I have them ship to my office since I live in Bethesda and you all know how shitty MD is when it comes to getting wine via mail.

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I'm surprised to see that Bell Wine & Spirits on M Street hasn't been mentioned.  The staff is very helpful (especially Bo) and the selection is pretty good.  It also doesn't hurt that it's practically across the street from my office, making it the most accessible wine shop in town.

Once a month, the guys from Bell's would do a complete tasting at the Borders books on L Street. Do they still do that? I went once to an Alsace tasting. For little plastic cups, it was done pretty well.

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Good list. A couple of comments (since you asked): Cicrcle has a good selection but Kumar is not concerned about temperature control. We had a "discussion" after I brought several bottles back that had been heated and he initially resisted replacing them. Later I noticed he had purchased a chiller in which he keeps some of his higher end wines but the store is still quite warm so be careful about buying bottles that have been on the shelf for a while. I don't find the staff that knowledgeable about wine. Schneiders is quite good about opening bottles for you to try and if Rick Gunderson(co-owner with his brother) is in the house sometimes you get the chance to taste something special-a 70 year Armagnac comes to mind. Terri is also a good guy to talk to about wine, I been generally pleased with his recommendations. Pearsons also will open wines to try-ask for the email price (and get on the list-lots of everyday wines at good prices). I would not recommend having out of region wine delivered in Maryland as I know of deliveries that have been confiscated. DC is fine as the city has more important issues than determining whether you are exceeeding your limits and now VA ok as well. MacArthurs good but wait for the sales; their staff overall may be the best in town as far as wine knowledge. CW good-get the online coupon for great discounts on all the items they sell. Magruders was much more competitive before they moved to their new location. VA has several good stores and half the sales tax of DC, I just don't get out there much. Arrowwine has an excellent reputation, again get on the email list. In fact, almost all the stores have regular emails with sale information and specials so that's a good way to get the best prices.

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Up that way for business yesterday, I stopped in at State Line in Elkton, MD. From the outside, this roadhouse on a divided highway looks like the "Budweiser and Jack Daniel's Emporium", but inside there's a fairly decent wine store. Good prices and decent selection, but nothing to truly recommend it. However, the Belgian beer selection is of note-- an entire aisle full, including some hard-to-find stuff.

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If you like Aussie wines, Wide World of Wines in Glover Park is unsurpassed. And the staff is very friendly and helpful. Since Heritage India--just up the street--is one of our favorites, we usually combine a trip to WWOW and a dinner at Heritage.

Living in Silver Spring, the most convenient wine stores--fagettabout Montgomery County--are Circle and Paul's. I've been going to Paul's more and more, as they have internet specials and always give me very fair prices. I've gotten some terrific Spanish wines there of late--Parker 90+ in the $10-15

range.

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If I could only shop at one store it would be Wide World on Wisconsin.  The staff, is as knowledgable as you can find, the selection is light on California wines, but one of the best Bordeaux, Rhone, Aussie, Champange, Spanish selections in country.

The free Saturday tastings are all done out of glasses, no plastic.  Also, the wines that are tasted can range in price from the low teens to over $100.  Also unlike Pearson's, CW, or Schneiders it is an easy store to browse, with a low pressure friendly staff.  I could go one, but I am drinking a free bottle of '04 Amon Ra that was left over from last Saturday's tasting.

I agree. Eliot and Hugo never steer you wrong.

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Not in DC but one of my favorites is the Winery on South Washington Street in Old Town, Alexandria. Owned and ran by Jane Cahill with assistance from her sister and mother at times. Jane has been in business for about seven years now and has a good knowledge of wine and her prices are within reason.

There is always a dog or two and a cat around making for a very relzxed buying experience and/or tasting.

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I believe the shop is called "Unwined." Useful little shop, as long as the madding hordes of cars jockeying for parking spaces this close to Staryucks doesn't drive you away.
Yes, it is Unwined (too much pre-Thanksgiving wine when I wrote that). For the most part, I find it far more friendly than Rick's, but Rick's has a wider selection. Fern Street Wine and Gourmet is another decent little wine store, but the parking there really sucks.
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What about Cecile's winecellar in McLean, or is it now finewine.com? I haven't been in a while but it used to be pretty good.

That store is still pretty good. Nearby, check out The Vineyard - it's address is Old Dominion Drive, but it's right at Chain Bridge Road, in a small building with really crappy parking. Great wine selection; prices can be a little high on wines you'll see elsewhere, but they specialize in small-production stuff. Tastings Friday and Saturday. The store is also open on Sundays. They should be moving soon to slightly bigger quarters nearby.

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In today's Washington Post there is an article about 2 new wine stores in Vienna.

Around the Corner, Two Ways to Wine

I've been to both stores and find the selection at Out of Site wines more interesting. The owners are extremely helpful and it is a fun, little shop. Best Cellars seemed to have a lot more "household names"; however, they did have a fairly large section devoted to Austrailian wines. FWIW, I was surprised that they did not have a single Virginia wine in the store.

Has anybody else been to either store?

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Mine definitely isn't Bassin's. They undoubtedly have a great selection, but what is with the staff? I have gone there four times in the last year and never once has anyone on the floor asked me if I needed assistance, or even smiled or nodded in my direction. On my last visit, I was there 2 Saturdays ago near to opening time, and one of only a couple customes in the store. The 4 or 5 employees stood gathered near the computer in the middle of the place talking only to one another, trying to impress each other with the wines they've tasted recently. After that, they went into an extended discussion of a pornographic movie clip they'd seen on the Internet, in full hearing range of anyone else on the sales floor. I suppose that a lot of the money comes from people phoning in orders, but every time I've been a customer in that place, I've felt like I was trespassing.

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Mine definitely isn't Bassin's. They undoubtedly have a great selection, but what is with the staff? I have gone there four times in the last year and never once has anyone on the floor asked me if I needed assistance, or even smiled or nodded in my direction. On my last visit, I was there 2 Saturdays ago near to opening time, and one of only a couple customes in the store. The 4 or 5 employees stood gathered near the computer in the middle of the place talking only to one another, trying to impress each other with the wines they've tasted recently. After that, they went into an extended discussion of a pornographic movie clip they'd seen on the Internet, in full hearing range of anyone else on the sales floor. I suppose that a lot of the money comes from people phoning in orders, but every time I've been a customer in that place, I've felt like I was trespassing.
I've had the exact same experience, however at Wide World of Wines, not Bassin's. I buy probably 60% of my wine from Schneider's, 30% off mailing list, and 10% auction.
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If you haven't yet been to Ace Beverages on New Mexico Ave., you ought to make the trip. Joe Riley goes out of his way to provide super customer service to DR.com folks, and will special order anything you want that he doesn't already carry that is available through local distributors. And then he'll give you a great price. The shop is very crowded, but is easier to browse at Ace than at many stores, like Schneider's or Calvert Woodley where wine is stacked up to the ceiling.

n.b. Go when Joe is there--he's usually off on Wednesdays (except during the week close to a major holiday), and he is usually real busy on Saturday filling orders from caterers, so he has less time to chew the fat.

Also, the building he is in now charges for parking, and Ace doesn't validate. I usually combine trips to Ace with a visit to Balducci next door, which validates for free parking if you spend $10, which isn't hard to do there. Or look for street parking in the residential nabe across New Mexico Ave.

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If you haven't yet been to Ace Beverages on New Mexico Ave., you ought to make the trip. Joe Riley goes out of his way to provide super customer service to DR.com folks, and will special order anything you want that he doesn't already carry that is available through local distributors. And then he'll give you a great price. The shop is very crowded, but is easier to browse at Ace than at many stores, like Schneider's or Calvert Woodley where wine is stacked up to the ceiling.

n.b. Go when Joe is there--he's usually off on Wednesdays (except during the week close to a major holiday), and he is usually real busy on Saturday filling orders from caterers, so he has less time to chew the fat.

Also, the building he is in now charges for parking, and Ace doesn't validate. I usually combine trips to Ace with a visit to Balducci next door, which validates for free parking if you spend $10, which isn't hard to do there. Or look for street parking in the residential nabe across New Mexico Ave.

Thanks for the tip. Good wine selection, great service -- and Balducci's next door -- sounds terrific! :(

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Also, the building he is in now charges for parking, and Ace doesn't validate. I usually combine trips to Ace with a visit to Balducci next door, which validates for free parking if you spend $10, which isn't hard to do there. Or look for street parking in the residential nabe across New Mexico Ave.

Very kind of you to mention us, Zora, many thanks. I should point out that, with the new parking company running the garage in our building, they are SUPPOSED to get us parking stamps (stickers?) to validate customers for 1 hour's worth of free parking. We expect to get those stickers this week. However, yes, we do have a nice neighborhood with parking spaces available if one is willing to walk one or two blocks.

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If you haven't yet been to Ace Beverages on New Mexico Ave., you ought to make the trip. Joe Riley goes out of his way to provide super customer service to DR.com folks, and will special order anything you want that he doesn't already carry that is available through local distributors. And then he'll give you a great price. The shop is very crowded, but is easier to browse at Ace than at many stores, like Schneider's or Calvert Woodley where wine is stacked up to the ceiling.

I second this. Joe was able to pick something out for me this weekend when I was going to a dinner party with a menu that was all over the place. Almost everyone who attended, but especially the hosts, remarked how wonderfully the wine matched the food. And his pick was well within my modest budget.

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The long awaited A.M. Wine Shoppe at 2122 18th St. NW is now open. They are run by the Cashions Eat Place people. Speck, Grappa, Italian wine. You know Cashions, don't you? They are on Columbia Rd. near where the Comet Liquor Store used to be, the Comet sign is at the Comet Ping Pong.

(Not just open in the morning)

De Vinos 2001 18th Street, at U Street. Friendly people, good beer selection.

Ansonia Wines, 1828 18th Street, across from Lauriol Restaurant (!). Burgundies. They have a real web site! Find out what they are tasting on Twitter (ansoniawines).

Why these two blocks are a wine hub, I don't know. Those who need more could always visit the nearby Cork wine store on 14th Street.

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Having mistaken it for roger coulon champagne, and it was the sole remaining bottle in roger coulon champagne’s place on the shelf at Cork, I returned a bottle of roger coulon coteaux champenois blanc to the store, complaining that it was flat, only to find out that this was actually still wine from the champagne region.

Unaware that anyone deliberately produced flat champagne, I hadn’t realized what the label was telling me. It resembled a bottle of champagne, down to the cork’s foiling, except when unwrapped, the cork was found clamped to the bottle with heavy metal, not wire, and difficult to ply loose.

My thought was that someone had tried to save it on the production line and failed. I only had a couple sips of the small amount I had poured into the flute. I hadn’t expected what I found, and the disappointment brought any conversation with this wine to an abrupt halt.

I was left with a fleeting impression of its taste, which had some complexity, and nothing muddled about it, with two or three distinct flavors revolving in their own orbits. Its body was thin, almost watery, and lacking the amplification of those flavors had the bubbles been there. It was close to what I would have found had I passed out with a magnum by my bed and woken the next morning to taste the dregs.

But I can’t really be sure, and I don’t know if it’s worth spending $40 or whatever it costs to find out more about this strange brew. There didn’t appear to be any in stock a week or so ago when I was back in the store, although I wasn’t hunting for it. there was a $71 bottle of gaston chiquet, don’t recall the vintage, that’s even better than roger coulon champagne. And cork is worth a visit for a lively bottle of schloss gobelsburg gruner veltliner ($19) that’s pretty spectacular. I have consumed enough of it that I am ready to let my secret out.

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For downtowners, I recommend the little wine shop in the Potenza complex at 15th and H. Same ownership, I think, as the Zola wine shop. The manager, whose name I am forgetting, is extremely friendly and helpful. Mostly Italian offerings including some off-the-beaten-track choices.

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On ‎7‎/‎27‎/‎2005 at 0:15 AM, zoramargolis said:

I live near MacArthur Beverages, and have been shopping there more frequently, now that they take Amex, my credit card of choice. It's easy to browse there, and their inventory is huge--especially France and Italy. Their consultants are very knowledgeable and friendly. The time to shop there is when they have sales. There's almost always a tasting on Saturday afternoon.

A nice appreciation of Ruth Bassin - A retailer’s legacy: Influencing Robert Parker and legitimizing California wines, by Dave McIntyre, online at washingtonpost.com on August 27, 2016, and in the print edition August 31, 2016.

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