How to Navigate Your Neighborhood Wine Shop: Confessions of a Wine Shop Purveyor


A few years ago twenty-something Adam Linet got sick of the desk job, quit, and embarked on a career in wine. Fast forward to now and he’s celebrating one-year of owning his own shop, Vino Fine Wine & Spirits, in Gramercy.

Adam sat down with me to share some behind-the-scenes insight on what he’s learned and to offer advice about getting the most out of shopping your local wine boutique.

BN: How do you choose what wines and liquors to carry?
Adam: I drink A LOT. That sounds like great fun, and it is, but it’s hard sometimes when I walk in at 11 a.m., and I have to give a rep the time and attention they deserve while I taste seven different scotches. I get palate fatigue, and I get tired. There are some days I’ve tasted 30 different bottles…and, yes, I do spit all day.

BN: What are your biggest challenges?
Adam: Besides bills? I ran into the question, ok, you’ve got four $15 cabernets from California, what’s the difference? When I found myself at a loss for words, I realized I’d rather just have one at that price point, one higher, and one that’s done in a different style. It took some time to figure out, but things are working more smoothly.

BN: You meet with producers from all over the world. Where’s the farthest visitor from?
Adam: Australia. It’s interesting…we get people who say, ‘My dad had a farm; we turned it into grapes 20 years ago. I’m the first-generation winemaker, or I’m an eighth generation winemaker, and we’re trying to get it into the New York market. We want to say thank you,’ etc.

BN: What do you love most?
Adam: I love coming here. I’m the boss, and it’s mine; I built something, and I’m very glad I did it.

BN: What’s your advice to “lay people” for navigating a local wine shop?
Adam: First question, do you trust your retailer? If yes, develop a rapport with them. If you tell them you like Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand, let them lead you to discover new things.

What definitely helps, too, is people take pictures of the labels of wines they like. Typically we don’t have the exact wine, because there are hundreds of thousands of wines in New York, but we can see regions, grape varietal, year, and recommend something similar.

If you don’t trust your retailer, it’s harder. Read. Do some research. Many stores are organized by grape or region, so pick out what you’ve liked and shop with a little trial and error.

Adam’s Top Picks (of the Moment) Under $30
1. Vina Palaciega Rioja Reserva 2006 (Rioja, Spain)
2. Luca Ferraris “Bric D’Bianc” Ruche¨ di Castagnole Monferrato 2010 (Piedmont, Italy)
3. Gilles Louvet “Bulles D’O” AOC Blanquette de Limoux (Languedoc-Rousillon, France)
4. Grand Enclos du Château de Cérons White Graves 2009 (Bordeaux, France)

Vino Fine Wine & Spirits
121 East 27th Street, NYC
Order online. Free delivery.

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