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Top Ten Wine Shops in Philly

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Introduction

Buying good wine in Philly can be a challenge. The prices are too damn high. Most of the folks working in the stores know more about Barefoot Cellars than Bordeaux.  It would be very reasonable to despair. But don’t despair: we have your back. We have compiled the very best wine stores in Philly and its suburbs.

The Bad News

Let’s get to the bad news first: there are no great wine shops in Philly. There are a handful of good ones, though. For a boutique wine experience, the tiny PLCB shop at Garces Trading Company offers a nicely curated selection. In Rittenhouse, the PLCB wine shop is spacious, modern, and has a good selection. The 14th & Locust PLCB shop has its ups and downs. If you like playing hide & seek for great values, then the shop in Queen Village is a fun place to shop.

The problem with all of them have to do with the three fundamental flaws of the PLCB system: Suburban communities often get the higher volume of Chairman’s Selection wines and often get wines that never reach Philly; Wine pricing is determined in Harrisburg, not at the local wine shops; Finally, employees are not certified sommeliers or wine professionals.

New Rules!

With the new wine laws in Pennsylvania, semi-private wine shops are starting to pop up in Philadelphia. This historic change should bring innovation and better selections to Philly, although pricing will remain higher than other states.

So where are the best wine shops in the Philly area? Here’s the list.

Top FWGS Wine Shops in Philadelphia

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Chestnut Hill’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

Hidden from view (it’s tucked behind a bus depot) and far away from Center City, this is one of the city’s best wine shops. Inventory of older vintages and rare wines, along with very good deals tucked in and around the usual State Store selections. The manager at this store is one of the best in the entire system. She manages to allocate the top Chairman Selections and the best of the Premium Collection offerings as well.

The best-kept secret in Philly. Let’s keep it that way, OK?

8705 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118 | Phone: (215) 753-4520

  • Saturday 9AM–9PM
  • Sunday 11AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–9PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–9PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–9PM
  • Thursday 9AM–9PM
  • Friday 9AM–9PM

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Center City East’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

This Center City wine shop is the home of some serious wines. Well served by the Chairman’s Selection program, this outpost is teeming with gems if you know what you are looking for. The wine manager here is Max, and he’s not afraid of having some seriously interesting wines on hand.

1112 Chestnut St #28, Philadelphia, PA 19107 | Phone: (215) 923-1790

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 11AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Northern Liberties Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

The best shop in this section of Philly. A good selection, nothing inspired. It’s on this list because it’s the best shop in this sector of Philly . The Premium Collection selections are solid and some good deals can be found, but disappear quickly.

180 W Girard Ave Philadelphia, PA 19123 | Phone: (215) 560-5011

  • Saturday 9AM–9PM
  • Sunday 12AM–5PM
  • Monday 9AM–9PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–9PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–9PM
  • Thursday 9AM–9PM
  • Friday 9AM–9PM

The Pennslyvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB)  controls most of the wine trade in the state. Most of the stores are outright terrible. Some are OK, and a few are really awesome. However, even the best ones are completely unlike wine stores in any other state. Most of the wines are still overpriced and boring.

There is also a movement for small private wine shops. You won’t see too many, and most have an abysmal selection of wines. There is a reason for this: the laws that allow free wine markets in Pennslyvania are onerous and lay high costs onto the shop owner.

Top Private Wine Shops in Pennsylvania

320 Market Cafe

320 Wine

Jack Cunicelli is the brains behind the wine selection at 320 in Swarthmore.  Located in the larger 320 Cafe, this is possibly the smallest wine shop in the history of boutique wine shops. What it lacks for in size, it makes up for in focus: natural wines. This is the wine shop for the truest of wine geeks.

For the love of all things good, don’t ask Jack for a bottle of Yellow Tail or Opus One. He won’t have it, and he may actually knife you (not really). If you are looking for Donkey & Goat, Eric Texier or  Frank Cornelissen, then you’ve found your new home.  Check out their Instagram account for available wines and tastings: https://www.instagram.com/320_wine/

Highlights: Their natural and organic wine selections are one of the best on the East Coast.

713 Chester Rd, Swarthmore, PA 19081 | Phone: (610) 328-7211

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 9AM–8PM
  • Monday 9AM–9PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–9PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–9PM
  • Thursday 9AM–9PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

Top FWGS Wine Shops in Suburbia

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Ardmore’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

This is the only fully-functioning wine shop in the Philly region. It has a knowledgeable staff, deep selection, and a decent selection of collectible bottles. Their Chairman’s  Selection offerings are better than any in the city itself.  If Rob Peters ever leaves this shop, it will probably go straight to hell. Until then, enjoy.

Highlights:  Deep inventory of hard-to-find wines. One of the top Premium Collection stores in the state. 

62 Greenfield Ave, Ardmore, PA 19003 | Phone: (610) 645-5010

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 11AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Bala Cynwyd’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

This is the wine store that time forgot. No one shops for fine wine in this shop, so really good wines tend to remain here for years. It’s a bit disorganized, but if you know what you are looking for, this is an awesome shop.  This (along with the Ardmore and Flourtown shops) is where the Wine School picks up wines for it’s tasting classes and monthly newsletter.

119 City Ave, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004 | Phone: (610) 660-6443

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 11AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

Fine Wine & Good Spirits

Flourtown’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

For many of the same reasons as Bala, this shop is great because it’s not a highly trafficked wine shop.  The lighting is better than most PLCB stores, and the aisles are better organized. Inventory of Chairman’s Selections is very good, better than any other wine shop in the region.

1440 Bethlehem Pike, Flourtown, PA 19031 | Phone: (215) 753-2454

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 11AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

For many, Jersey is the natural choice for buying wine. It’s a free market where the wine lover can buy pretty much any wine they want. For those in Philly, that is a welcome relief. That also means that selections and pricing are wildly variable depending on where you shop. Even at the same shops, there can be two or three different prices for the same wine.

Pro tip: to get the best deals at a wine shop, ask if they have a newsletter or a free membership program. You can often score an additional 10-15% off your wine selections taking this tact.

Top Wine Shops in Southern Jersey

WineWorks

Wine Works

If heaven is a wine shop,  it will look a lot like this one. Larger than most grocery stores, Wine Works has wide aisles of wine intuitively organized into regional and varietal categories. There is plenty of eye-candy for the casual wine shopper: a cheese counter, a huge cigar humidor, and wine tastings galore. That is just the window dressing, though. They have the best selection of Italian and Spanish wines in the region.  Their offerings, in general, are superb, especially in the $10-$30 price bracket.  Pro Tip: seek out Anca or Charlie for spot-on recommendations.

Highlight: Wine Work’s Spanish and Italian selections are extensive and well-thought out. Good prices for highly sought after cult wines. 

319 W Rte 70, Marlton, NJ 08053 | Phone: (856) 596-3330

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 10AM–7PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM
Princeton Corkscrew Wine Shop

Princeton Corkscrew

 If you are looking for rare and limited wines, this is the place you have to go.  The wine buyer for this shop is fearless and unflinching. They offer great Greek wines when no one else even knows there are great Greek wines.  Or offer a selection of great Burgundy. Even a master sommeliers can spend a few hours in this shop and learn something new. This is a bewitching shop, so be prepared to spend at least a few hours combing through the wine selection here.

Highlights:  Eclectic and brilliant selection of wines from across the globe. Very good selection of Greek wines.

49 Hulfish St, Princeton, NJ 08542 | Phone: (609) 430-1200

  • Saturday 10AM–9PM
  • Sunday 12–7PM
  • Monday 11AM–9PM
  • Tuesday 10AM–9PM
  • Wednesday 10AM–9PM
  • Thursday 10AM–9PM
  • Friday 10AM–9PM
Canal's Bottle Stop

Canal’s Bottlestop

Our go-to wine shop for over a decade. This is an old-school wine shop (small, dense, and messy) which makes us very happy. We love to hunt around for awesome wines, and we are never disappointed here. Their Austrian and German wine selections are excellent, as is their selection of French and South American wines.  A big chunk of real estate in this shop is devoted to high-quality California wines, which is a refreshing change.  Very good pricing, especially if you are a club member (which is free).

Highlights:  A strong Pacific Northwest inventory and very good pricing on South American wines. 

10 W Rte 70, Marlton, NJ 08053 | Phone: (856) 983-4991

  • Saturday 9AM–10PM
  • Sunday 10AM–6PM
  • Monday 9AM–10PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–10PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–10PM
  • Thursday 9AM–10PM
  • Friday 9AM–10PM

Welcome to tax-free shopping! Delaware is a great option for buying wine.  There are some really great places to buy wine. However, pricing isn’t as great as you might think.  The average dollar price of wines is about 5% higher on average than in New Jersey and Pennslyvania. Another downfall is that selection is that some wineries don’t have distribution here.

Top Wine Shops in Delaware

Frank's Wine Shop

Franks Union Wine Mart 

A wine institution in Delaware.  Owner Frank Pagliaro and the Wine School have a long relationship, starting with them underwriting a philly.com show that we created called Philly Uncorked.  At the time, we didn’t know much about the shop. Since then, we have learned a great deal. Frank is a force of nature, and his wine shop reflects his personality. The selection is wild, eclectic, intelligent and always surprising. It’s a wine shop for connoisseurs (there is a back room where all the goodies are kept) and wine lovers who are tired of cookie-cutter selections.

Highlight: Frank’s has a back room where they store a lot of cult and collectible wines. 

1206 N Union St, Wilmington, DE 19806 | Phone: (800) 283-7265

  • Saturday 10AM–9PM
  • Sunday 12–4PM
  • Monday 10AM–9PM
  • Tuesday 10AM–9PM
  • Wednesday 10AM–9PM
  • Thursday 10AM–9PM
  • Friday 10AM–9PM
Total Wine & More

Total Wine & More (Claymont)

Pretty much all of Philly does there shopping here. About 100 Philadelphians will be shopping at Total Wine at any given hour. Also, this is the shop where A LOT of  Philly restaurants buy their wine (illegally, yes) so don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face or two. Does that make this the best wine shop in the region?  It’s great for national brands like Kendall Jackson Chardonnay (which is sold at a penny over wholesale). Pricing is not great for smaller brands and boutique wines.  Go here for mass-market wines, but purchase your boutique bottles elsewhere.

Highlights: Their French selection is very good, especially for Bordeaux and Rhone wines. 

691 Naamans Rd, Claymont, DE 19703 | Phone: (302) 792-1322

  • Saturday 8AM–11PM
  • Sunday 10AM–8PM
  • Monday 9AM–11PM
  • Tuesday 9AM–11PM
  • Wednesday 9AM–11PM
  • Thursday 9AM–11PM
  • Friday 8AM–11PM

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