I am often asked where you can find the wines that I mention in this column. It’s often difficult to answer that question, as inventories change. Not only that, but depending on the wine, there could be too many places to mention and I would hate to leave any retailers out. However, I am more than happy to suggest what I think are some of the better wine stores in The City.
Let’s get the big ones out of the way.
K&L has a great selection — and because it works with so much volume, it is able to offer unbeatable pricing. You can find well-known brands such as Penfolds as well as more eclectic treats, like Talai Berri Txacalina (2009, $19.99).
Beverages and More gets a bad rap, but thanks to head buyer Wilfred Wong, there are interesting choices lining the shelves, such as Tinto Figuero 4 Mesas (2007) from Ribera del Duero ($19.99).
The Wine Club went through some transformation a few years back when it was an ultradiscounter. Its markups are still competitive, and the selection, which has something for almost everyone, has not changed much.
Smaller shops, like The Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, The San Francisco Wine Trading Company, Blackwell’s, Arlequin and Swirl do a superb job spanning the globe and focusing on lesser-known, conscious producers. Price-wise, they are all about the same — meaning a fair, though not a discounted, markup.
The Wine House has an international selection with a French bent and excellent customer service. It might be the best place to check if you are a Burgundy nut, and it also carries one of my favorite deals in Champagne — the Arlaux Brut, NV ($36).
If you like Italian wine, park yourself at Biondivino. This small space brims over with a thoughtful and exciting selection of wines, ranging from the über-traditional Bartolo Mascarello Barolo, 2004 ($99) to the esoteric wonder, the Feudo di Maurizio ’04 Fumin ($35).
California Wine Merchant in the Marina has lots of local cult wines, such as Bryant Family Vineyards cabernet sauvignon, as well as relatively affordable labels like Ancien.
Across town, Castro Village Wine Company has been specializing in California wines over the past 30 years and has established brands, like Saintsbury, as well as those that fly under the radar, such as Copain.
If natural wines are your thing (and even if not), Terroir has an excellent old-world-dominated range of organic, biodynamic and otherwise natural-defined wines. Many wine stores have increased their stock in this category, but Terroir uses natural winemaking as the criteria for making it past its gates. If you have issues with sulfites, give them a shout.
For the sake of brevity, our wine shop tour has kept me within the perimeters of San Francisco — and surely there are other stores that are worthy of your attention both inside and outside The City. I hope this guide has been helpful in finding the perfect wine.
Pamela S. Busch is the owner of Skrewcap.com, founder of CAV Wine Bar and a Bay Area wine consultant. Please submit your questions to Pamela@Skrewcap.com.