Massachusetts wine shops worth seeking out

Massachusetts is a state coveted by wine retailers: with strong tech and finance as well as other industries, major research centers and the jet-set destinations of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, it’s fair to say there’s a large population interested in wine. However, the state is one of the hardest for retailers to ship wine into. Fortunately for the locals, this lack of external competition doesn’t lead to a poor selection and high prices; some of the state’s wine shops offer some terrific wines and, even reasonable prices can be found. And as of last year, there’s no sales tax on wine (and beer and spirits) in the state, so that helps stretch the consumer’s wine dollar seven percent farther than other states. When I’m traveling, I always love to check out the local wine stores; here are a few that I have visited in my wanderings in and through the state in the past year.

The Wine Bottega, 341 Hanover St, Boston.
This terrific, small shop seemingly ripped out of Brooklyn and placed in the North End has a “manifesto” for “real” wine and is a points-free zone. The well-curated selection of the delicious esoterica of the wine world makes it a great stop for cru Beaujolais, wines of the Loire, sherry and more. Offers 10% discount on mixed cases as well as 15% on solid cases. Definitely worth a stop if you’re in the North End but they also ship.

Vintages, 53 Commonwealth Ave, Concord, MA
Owner Eric Broege clearly doesn’t get tired of talking customers out of obvious, big name wines in this well-heeled town because he doesn’t stock many. Instead, he offers lots of enticing wines from small Italian growers as well as some great domaines and estates in the Loire, Burgundy, Jura, Germany and the Left Coast. He has a small selection of craft beers too and even a few box wines from vignerons stashed beneath the counter. If every town in America had a shop like this, the nature of our wine discussion would be a whole lot different.

Gordon’s, 894 Main St., Waltham, MA
A bigger store, the list prices on some items appear to be a very full markup. But case purchases receive a 20% discount, which really gets your attention. I bought a mixed case of wines here while driving by last winter and was happy with the selection (including a few bottles of the rare Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas, possibly one of the best two best white wines from Spain). One note: if you see a wine such as the Marcel Lapierre Morgon on the store’s website that might make you want to stop off of 95, call first to make sure it’s in stock. Good craft beers too, some at super-low prices.

The Brown Jug, 1 Jarves St., Sandwich, MA
The Cape, for all its charms and attractions, remains surprisingly underserved by good wine stores. Through the thicket of package stores selling beer, plonk and lottery tickets on the Cape, the Brown Jug in Sandwich (pictured above) stands tall as the best that I have found. They have Vouvray etched into the plate glass window at the front of the store; inside, there are quite a few enticing selections ranging from Chablis to Domaine Huet and several Spanish wines from importer Jose Pastor. Good craft beers too. And several epicurean delights at the sister shop next door.

If you live in Massachusetts or go there a lot, which are some of your favorite stores and why? What do you think of the selections and prices in the state?

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14 Responses to “Massachusetts wine shops worth seeking out”

  1. I’m a Western Mass girl and love Table & Vine in West Springfield–the place is huge and the staff are great! as for prices, its always nice to get away from NYC $$$ on occasion!

  2. Two favorites on the South Shore:

    Pembroke Center Liquors – The exterior belies the extensive, wide-ranging selection of wines from all over. The wine buyer, Holly Dunlap, is knowledgeable and passionate. Prices are friendly and bargains can be had; generous case discounts available. Holly will assist in tracking down and ordering hard to find wines. Craft beers too. My daughter lives nearby so it’s a handy stop for me. In the new shopping center at the junction of Routes 14 and 36 in Pembroke Center.

    Long Ridge Wines – While the selection is smaller than Pembroke Center Liquors, it offers many wines that you don’t see elsewhere. Thus, you can find new wines to become your next favorites. Attentive, helpful staff. For those who can afford it, many high-end selections. In The Pinehills, exit 3, Plymouth.

  3. The fact that you didn’t mention Bin Ends, Federal Wine & Spirits, & dare I say it, Urban Grape, are proof positive you don’t live here, my good doctor. Next time you’re in town, I’ll be glad to take you on a tour.

  4. I second Dale’s note on Urban Grape to start. Other favorite wine stores of mine are Vino Divino (they have edited the selection for you) in Newton and Vino Italiano (specializing in Italian wines – go figure) in Waltham.

  5. The Spirited Gourmet in Belmont has a killer selection, both super-cool obscure stuff and great values.

    They may be out of it now, but they either have or had white Chateau Musar (in addition to red), which I think represents the wine buyer’s approach pretty well.

  6. I understand that we just opened our doors last Monday but I think that our shop is worth the mention. I opened up TerraVino in Brookline, MA with a sole focus on wines that are natural, organic and biodynamic. Not only is out inventory 100% ‘green’ but out whole build-out is as well. We strived to create this sustainable business model that tells a story about the wines, the shop and myself. Hope you pop in next time you are around. Love the blog by the way!!!

  7. Thanks for these tips! As I mentioned, it’s not meant as a comprehensive list, so thanks for adding your thoughts.

    Dale, thanks — sounds great!

    Chris, thank you and good luck!

  8. The dreadnaught of New England wine retailing is on Washington Street in Newton. Marty’s will never be hip–they cater to the jug wine crowd as well as the connoisseurs–but if you are looking for serious people selling serious wines, there’s no contest.

  9. Kind of pretentious for Terra Vino to write in to try to be included with these long and hard established shops. Everyone has to pay their dues, so take a chill and build up your business, And if you are luck enough to stay in business and have unsolicited recognition, then it will all be the more rewarding.

  10. These Massachusetts wine shops are gorgeous. Can’t wait to come out for a visit and see what the Right Coast is doing that we’re not doing here on the coast of California.

  11. One that no one has mentioned might be the very best of them all — The Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville.

  12. In terms of pricing and selection, no one has Rapid Liquors in Stoneham beat. Sure there are “prettier” stores out there but Rapid has everyone beat consistently in all price ranges.

  13. Berman’s Wine & Spirits has in in Lexington since the end of Prohibition. We specialize in wines from smaller producers that have personality, character, and great quality at a reasonable price – especially from France and Italy.

  14. Frank has it right, Rapid Liquors in Stoneham is the best wine shop I have visited. They do what only Costco does (as far as i know), in that they don’t do case discounts. Their everyday prices are just 15-25% cheaper than every other store around. Why shop at a “pretty” store and have to buy a case to get the right price when there are stores that don’t rip you off when you only need a bottle or two? Rapids has a great selection, won’t win any beauty awards, but I like knowing that I am always getting the best prices on anything I pick up there.


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