Ambassador Wines & Spirits
1020 Second Ave.
at E. 54th St.
This East Side wine and spirits store is an impressive resource for those who either know their wines or want to become knowledgable. They also have a serious selection of spirits, notably single-malt scotches, sake, bourbon and vodka.
There is a broad and deep choice from the places you'd expect (France, Italy, Australia, California), but there's also much more than a token selection from Spain, New Zealand, Israel, South Africa, and other lesser-known wine-producing countries. Their dessert wines may be the biggest and most diverse selection (both by sources and prices) in the city. Their Champagnes include many from small French producers as well as the biggest and best known.
What to know:
The store will organize meals (for a corporate event, a birthday party or another celebration) cooked by private chefs with menus built around a selection of wines.
The downstairs area is where the French wines are kept and the rooms are like being in a cave (in the best sense of that).
The staff is extremely knowledgable and will spend time with you to help you learn and taste. The store also holds classes in its downstairs tasting room.
Delivery within a ten-block radius of the store is free. After that, inquire about delivery charges. They offer a 10% discount if you buy 6 to 11 bottles; 15% discount for 12 or more (unless the wine is on sale and then there's no discount).
They have a large chilled room for sake as well as Champagne and other wines best served chilled.