Posts Tagged ‘wine stores’

When in Texas…

August 29, 2019 7 comments

Travel is a part of my job (the job which pays the bills) – nothing unique here, of course, and when my flights are not delayed for 14 hours or canceled, and I don’t have to sleep on airport terminal’s floor, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

As a wine junky (replace with your favorite epithet – lover, aficionado, geek, snob, …) I’m always on a lookout for two things when I travel.

One would be experiencing new wines – in whatever way possible. It might be a Vino Volo boutique at the airport, offering local wines. It might be a local winery within the driving distance. It might be a store which offers interesting wines (local, unique, inexpensive – whatever can constitute “interesting”).

The other one is meeting with friends. It is amazing how easy it is to become good friends over a glass of wine. The wine offers endless opportunity to talk, learn from each other, learn about each other’s lives, and really, to become friends.

Of course, you can meet your friends face to face only when your travel schedule will allow that. During my last trip to Dallas, Texas, in July, my schedule allowed for such a meeting. After exchanging a few emails with Melanie Ofenloch, a.k.a. Dallas Wine Chick (wine blogger at DallasWineChick – if you are not familiar with Melanie, here is a recent interview with her), she was able to rearrange her schedule and had time to share a couple of drinks – and a conversation.

We met at the bar at the restaurant which was conveniently located for both of us. I don’t remember what exactly we were drinking, because that was really not important – the conversation about wine, past wine bloggers conferences, families and life overall was the real value of getting together.

Before we parted, Melanie asked if I ever visited Spec’s, for which I said that I have no idea what that is. She told me “you must”, and put a location into my phone, to make sure I would have no problems finding it.

Spec’s, which is known under its full name as Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods, is a chain of wine stores in the Dallas area (don’t know if they have locations throughout Texas). Everything is big in Texas, so the Spec’s I visited was sized appropriately. Rows and rows of wines, mostly sorted by the grape variety. And while everything is big in Texas, cash is also a king – Spec’s offers 10% discount for all cash wine purchases (you can see three prices at most of the wine bottles – standard price, volume discount and cash discount).

It is not a secret anymore that Texas makes excellent wines, which are also not available much anywhere outside of Texas. So when in Texas, one has to use the opportunity to experience local wines (believe me, it is well worth it). Thus Texas wine section was of the most interest to me – and I found it after a few circles.

In that section, I found a number of wines frequented in the Texas wine bloggers’ posts – for example, Becker and McPherson. I also found some wines I was familiar with, such as Duchman, and some wines I knew existed, but I never tried them, such as Infinite Monkey Theorem, produced in Austin (this city winery originated in Denver, Colorado, but they also opened a facility in Austin a while ago). I ended up taking three bottles of the Texas wine to keep me company in the hotel room.

Before I left the store I also stumbled upon a section of the “serious” wines – Bordeaux first growth, Burgundy stars, Italian legends and more. It is always fun to at least find yourself surrounded by so much wine goodness at a given moment – even that I can’t afford any of those bottles.

Back in the room, I decided to start my wine tasting with the 2015 Infinite Monkey Theorem Tempranillo Texas (13.8% ABV). Tempranillo is one of my most favorite grapes, and it is one of the popular varieties in Texas. I also had successful past experience with Infinite Monkey Theorem wine – the Cab Franc rendition I had in Denver a couple of years ago, was absolutely delicious. All together, it made me excited about trying this wine – and it didn’t disappoint. Dark fruit, a touch of roasted meat and tobacco, a hint of anise – an excellent wine.

As I bought 3 bottles at Spec’s, my initial plan was to open all 3 and try them – this is what I typically do with Trader Joe’s wines, even when I stay only for one night. I was staying only for 2 nights, and the wine was so good that I simply decided to finish this bottle and take the other two back home.

Back at home, I was quick to continue my Texas wine deep dive with 2017 McPherson Les Copains Rosé Texas (12.9% ABV, 52% Cinsault, 42% Grenache, 6% Rolle). The wine was a classic Rosé, with a bit bigger body than a typical Provence, but full of ripe strawberries with a touch of lemon, fresh, crisp, and easy to drink. I would love to drink this Rosé any day, any season.

So when in Texas, make sure to drink Texas wines – you really have to do what locals do – I have no doubts you will enjoy it. And if you will be in Dallas, remember that Spec’s might be considered a “Disneyland for Adults”. Well, maybe leave your wallet at home.

Wine Retail: PJ Wine

May 12, 2011 9 comments

Buying wine is one of the great pleasures for the wine lover. Of course it is very easy and convenient to buy wine online, as in a lot of cases it also means that you will be able to find good values. However, for the true wine lover ( and if you want to substitute the term with wine geek, be it), being able to unhurriedly browse  through the wine store (needless to say – good wine store) is a source of great pleasure. Seeing familiar labels is almost like seeing the old friends – “oh yes, I know you, it is great to see you again”. When you see the wine you don’t know, it is moment of discovery – “hmmm, I wonder how that should taste like?”, “aha, I think it was a good vintage”, “oh, I wonder if this is a good price”. Then it goes to “now, I must try this!”, or “ahh, one day I will definitely have to try this”… There is a lot of anticipation associated with that slow walk along the shelves, and a lot of pleasant expectations.

I already wrote about my favorite wine stores, both “brick and mortar” and online (you can find this post here), and I wrote a post about my most favorite local “go to” store Cost Less Wine and Liquors in Stamford, CT (the post is here). Now, I want to talk about another wine store which I really like – PJ Wine in New York. The store has both great physical location on upper Broadway, as well as very extensive web site at

What do I like so much about PJ Wine? First of all, the store doing a lot to educate people about the wines. PJ Wine hosts great seminars (most of them are free), where people learn and get to try excellent wines, expanding their wine knowledge and taste. In addition to the seminars you can also subscribe to the mailing lists, and receive very extensive wine notes, with a lot of information about wines which is hard to find anywhere else, including winery websites. And then in addition to all the education and information – surprise – the wine store has great selection of … wines! (don’t know what you expected to see here).

First and foremost, PJ Wine is a place for Spanish wines, and Rioja in particular:

When it comes to Rioja, anything you are looking for – PJ Wine got it, and they got it right there, on the shelf where you can see and touch. Where else can you find 1964 Rioja simply waiting for you?

Don’t worry, it is not only Rioja – there are plenty of great wines on the shelves from all over world – hard to find wines from France, incredible selection of Jerez and Madeira, unique Italian wine and many many others.

Last but not least – you can always get good advice, and all the staff actually knows all their wines – not theoretically, but actually tried them and will be able to describe the wines to you in great detail. I’m sure many of you can attest to the fact that you missed such service more than once in your wine shopping adventures.

If you like wine and plan to be in New York – PJ Wine is definitely a worthy destination, you will be pleased with what you can find (of course you can get the wines from their web site – but it is a different experience). PJ Wine delivers unique experiences, from wines themselves to the great learning opportunities, and this is experience is yours to take. Happy wine shopping experience!

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