Top Ten Wine Shops in Philly

Posted by Keith Wallace

Buying good wine in Philly can be a challenge. The prices are too damn high. Most of the folks working in most of the wine shops in Philadelphia know more about Barefoot Cellars than Bordeaux. So 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.

A special note to wine school members: if you are attending the wine club, there are a few wine shops we recommend to source your wines from. They are identified by the term WSoP Approved. These are wine shops that have a great staff that can offer recommendations that will fit into the monthly wine club theme.

Top Private Wine Shops in Philadelphia

The Pennslyvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB)  controls most of the wine trade in the state, and most of those stores are outright terrible. Some are OK, and a few are really awesome. No matter, most of the wines are still overpriced and boring.

There is a movement for small private wine shops, which is an amazing development in the past few years. Want to shop at the best wine store Philadelphia? Just google “wine shop near me” and locate one of these shops pronto.

Vernick Wine (WSoP Approved)

Less than a four-minute walk from the wine school! Their selection is a little larger than most of the boutique shops, but it’s still tiny (maybe 100 bottles). Like most of the private wine shops in Philly, they have a selection of natural wines, but they also offer a good selection of classic European bottlings, as well.

2029 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Cork, the Wine Shop at Cook (WSoP Approved)

Before the pandemic, Cook was a competitor to the wine school. They offered food and wine tasting classes and were backed by Philly Magazine and a major restauranteur. Now they are a great wine shop an eight-minute walk from the school!

Their former classroom is stacked to the ceiling with a diverse portfolio of bottles. This is one of the better bottle shops in Philly.

253 S 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Sally (WSoP Approved)

This shop is a six-minute walk from the wine school. They occasionally carry bottles from Louis Dressner Selections, which is a rarity here in Philly. Great natural wines, with a focus on slurpable and fun styles with a bit of funk.

2229 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Bloomsday (WSoP Approved)

Founded by veteran Wine School instructor Zack Morris, Bloomsday is a cafe with an idiosyncratic wine shop tucked in. The selection is small but very worthwhile.

414 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147

320 Market (WSoP Approved)

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. But, what it lacks 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 knife you (not really). If you are looking for Donkey & Goat, Eric Texier, or  Frank Cornelissen, you’ve found your new home.

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

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

Wine Shops In Philadelphia

Top Wine Shops in Southern Jersey

For many, Jersey is the natural choice for buying wine. It’s a free market where a wine lover can buy any wine they want. For those in Philly, that is a welcome relief. Unfortunately, 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 exact 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 by taking this tact.

Wine Works (WSoP Approved)

If heaven is a wine shop,  it will look like this one. More extensive 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 vast 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—reasonable prices for highly sought-after cult wines. 

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

Princeton Corkscrew (WSoP Approved)

 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. They offer great Greek wines when no one else even knows there are great Greek wines. Or offer a selection of great Burgundy. Even master sommeliers can spend a few hours in this shop and learn something new. This is a fascinating shop, so be prepared to spend a few hours combing through the wine selection here.

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

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

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 for excellent wines, and we are never disappointed here. Their Austrian and German wine selections are fantastic, as is their selection of French and South American wines. This shop’s big chunk of real estate is devoted to high-quality California wines, which is a refreshing change. Excellent pricing, especially if you are a club member (which is free).

Highlights:  A robust Pacific Northwest inventory and excellent pricing on South American wines. 

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

Welcome to tax-free shopping! Delaware is an excellent option for buying wine. There are some 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 than in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Another downfall is that selection is that some wineries don’t have distribution here.

Top Wine Shops in Delaware

Franks Union Wine Mart  (WSoP Approved)

A wine institution in Delaware. Owner Frank Pagliaro and the Wine School have a long relationship, starting with underwriting a philly.com show that we created, 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

Total Wine & More (Claymont)

Pretty much all of Philly does their shopping here. About 100 Philadelphians will be shopping at Total Wine at any given hour. Also, this is the shop where Many 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 (sold at a penny over wholesale). However, 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 excellent, especially for Bordeaux and Rhone wines. 

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

Top Fine Wine and Good Spirits Shops

The quality of these state-owned wine and spirits shops is falling rapidly. There used to be a lovely boutique wine shop at the Garces Trading Company, but it closed when this Garces outpost folded. In Rittenhouse, the Fine Wine & Good Spirits wine shop is spacious and modern, but its inventory continues to disappoint. The 14th & Locust wine 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 has 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.

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 in other states.

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

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.

Sadly, the manager retired and the shop has greatly declined in quality. It may soon be removed from this list.

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

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

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

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

Top FWGS Wine Shops in Suburbia

Ardmore’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB) (WSoP Approved)

This is the only fully-functioning wine shop in the Philly region. It has a knowledgeable staff, a deep selection, and a decent selection of collectible bottles. In addition, their Chairman’s election offerings are better than any in the city itself. If Rob Peters ever leaves this shop, it will probably go 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

Bala Cynwyd’sFine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

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

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

Flourtown’s Fine Wine & Good Spirits (PLCB)

This shop is excellent for many of the same reasons as Bala because it’s not a highly trafficked wine shop. In addition, the lighting is better than in most PLCB stores, and the aisles are better organized. The inventory of Chairman’s Selections is excellent, better than any other wine shop in the region.

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

Have a Favorite Wine Store?

Give Them Some Love in the Comments Below.

2 thoughts on “Top Ten Wine Shops in Philly”

  1. Bottle King in Princeton and Hillsborough, Petrock’s Liquors in Hillsborough are three go-to shops,. Bottle King in particular, at least these two stores, have a wide and deep selection of wines renowned( high end Bordeaux , Burgundy, Piedmont, Tuscany etc.) and obscure (Chateau Simone from Provence). Their sweet spot for the retail customer is somewhere between 14-30 dollars for wines that often cost 7-10 per bottle more elsewhere. The staff is friendly and helpful.

    At Petrock’s ask for Frank Olsen.

    Reply
  2. I’ve heard really wonderful things about Japan! Ugh yeah here in Taiwan people aren’t that rushed either but Korea was a whoooole different story when it came to riding the subway or bus! Sad story, we actually had a CS lined up for Busan but then our host crapped out on us the last minute 🙁 I would have loved to try CS there but guess it wasn’t in the books for us to do it.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00