Italian Wine Merchants
108 E. 16th St.
between Irving Pl./Union Sq. East
A beautiful store dedicated to selling and encouraging the drinking of Italian wines. Co-owned by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, the store carries familiar labels as well as wines from smaller, more obscure producers. The staff really knows what they are selling and the store will often do tastings and (for a small fee) seminars.
It's always a pleasure to learn and buy from specialists and that's what these folks are. A deep and wide selection, knowledgable staff, and enthusiasm for their mission. What more could you want?
What to avoid:
This is not a shop of bargains. That's not to say that everything is terribly expensive, but with a weak dollar and knowing that the store sells many wines made by some small producers that have an equally small output, you can expect more high priced bottles than low.
What to know:
Browsing and shopping on a regular basis at a specialty wine store like this can help you develop knowledge and a palate. If you're an Italian wine beginner, the store can put cases together -- at all price points -- with a selection to get you started. This could be the place where you learn about Italian wine and where you shop for an occasional special bottle, but then take your knowledge and price shop elsewhere.