How the Brooklyn Wine Exchange Became a Beloved Neighborhood Wine Shop

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Have you spotted any trends in the wine retail world?
In New York, the trend seems to be retailers now selling what has been in the past referred to as "restaurant wines." This means that shops are more likely to sell wines that pair well with food from actual family-owned wineries, and not "fantasy" brand wines produced in a factory and sold with clever packaging. The other big trend that we are extremely happy about is that point ratings from wine publications do not drive sales in New York City like they do in other parts of the country. I can't even remember the last time a customer asked us about how many points a particular wine received.

What are characteristics of the better shops in NYC?
The best shops are those that, like Brooklyn Wine Exchange, hire people with serious wine and food knowledge. Former sommeliers, wine directors, cooks, and bartenders. A cashier can ring you up, but what can they tell you about the wine? We have found tremendous success in creating a team of people who truly love and appreciate what they are selling. And we find that similar dynamic in the other wine shops we love.

What types of wines are getting New Yorkers excited, and what are becoming unfashionable?
Because of our supreme access to imported and domestic wine in the city, we often see mini-trends and fads come and go that may never reach other parts of the country. For us, Loire Valley red wines and the wines of Jura have taken off like crazy, mostly because they are such great food-pairing wines. We have noticed huge interest among our staff and customers for Greek wines, as well as Spanish wines from Galicia. The wines that have become less saleable are those "retail brand" wines that have been doctored and synthesized to taste big and rich and, ultimately, quite boring.

What other offerings do you have: newsletters, classes, winemaker dinners, etc.?
Our customers receive a twice-weekly newsletter via email that helps them stay up-to-date on class schedules and specials. The Learning Center, where we feature our weekly free classes, is really the heart of the store. We watch our neighbors attend these classes and build friendships, business relationships, and more just from attending. They sit together, learn, taste wine and experience a connection not just to the wine, but to each other and the neighborhood as well.



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