Union Square Wines & Spirits
140 Fourth Avenue
at 13th Street
Union Square Wines & Spirits, a beautiful store located two blocks from the great Union Square Greenmarket, is an impressive wine merchant that brings together a diverse and deep wine and spirits selection with savvy marketing and a celebratory sense of service.
The store is large and spacious, with aisles wide enough to push a small shopping cart, and a high ceiling and handsome wood floors. The signage is clear, with occasional notes about certain wines adding to the store's balance of helpful information for the less experienced wine drinker and respect for the knowing wine customer.
Wines are organized both by country as well other categories -- for instance, there's a wall of domestic wines grouped by type of grape as well as "staff selections" and featured specials. The choice of whiskies and other brown spirits is impressive, including bottles from small producers. They also offer a large variety of kosher and organic wines.
Unique to Union Square Wines is an appealing "frequent flyer" type of program called their "Savvy Sippers' Club." It lets you trade points (earned by being a past customer -- five points for each dollar spent) for access to three self-service wine tasting machines located throughout the store called the "Enomatic Wine Experience." The machines contain 48 wines (the selection is changed monthly and listed on their web site) that are always in operation, including one machine with chilled white and rosé wines.
What to know:
They always discount cases 20%. Twice a year -- in August and January -- they have 30%-off sales on a huge selection of wines. If you spend a minimum of $45, delivery -- often the same day -- is free in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn and Queens (ask for details). They've begun a relationship with Organic Wine Journal, a new publication, to promote these wines, which includes tastings and promotions dedicated to organic viniculture.
Their appealing and easy-to-use web site is also an e-commerce site, providing a huge amount of detail, notes and commentaries for each bottle, making it easy and less daunting to buy.