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Nov 21, 2006 05:18 AM

Where to buy wine for all these BYOBs?

My wife (a Main Line native) and I, San Franciscans, will be spending a week in Philadelphia and are eager to try some of the Italian places recommended by Chowhounds. Since so many restaurants are BYOB, can anyone recommend some places to buy wine? I know the stores are state-owned, but our previous experience of the area was limited to uninviting stores with an armed state trooper eyeing us as we browsed the wine. Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.

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  1. The "superstore" at 1218 Chestnut has the best selection of the State Stores. The one at 1913 Chesnut is convenient to the Rittenhouse area but with a smaller selection and a tiny 'premium' room in the back.

    If you have a car, by all means go to Moore Brothers in NJ, only 3 minutes from the Ben Franklin Bridge.

    1. the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has made some great improvements in the past few years, some stores are even open Sundays! Like the previous poster suggested, if you plan on buying several bottles, Moore Brothers in Pennsauken, NJ is a great choice, the $3 toll to cross the bridge will likely equal the savings on your first bottle of wine. You might also want to check out Canal's, a liquor store in Pennsauken, NJ that has a good wine selection and great prices.

      1. I avoid the PA State Stores on principal, and I second the recommendation for Moore Brothers. Or, if you're anywhere near I-95, if you travel about 25 minutes south of Philly and exit at Naaman's Road just over the Delaware state line, you'll be at Total Wine -- a veritable wine super store with good prices, a great selection and very helpful sales people.

        1. I agree that the 12th and Chestnut store is your best bet in the city. The salespeople are useless, but the Chairman's Selections are pretty reliable choices. If you have the time, Moore Bros. is a great place, it's a little hard to find though, especially if you're not from around here.

          Total Wine is great, but for only a few bottles I don't think it's worth the trip to Delaware. You can get good bottles at a PA state store, you just need to do some research beforehand. I like Keith Wallace's picks for good stuff to get in state stores:

          Just read the 'Drink This Now' posts, ignore the rest.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Buckethead

            Total wine has a great store just behind the Cherry Hill Mall, I don't recall the address. I went there and asked for some decent value Bordeaux and came away with about a dozen bottles of lesser chateaux from good vintages all recommended by the incredibly knowledgable sales manager (he knew his wines) all were excellent. Not so at Moore Bros - the same request for recommendations left me with a dozen bottles of mediocre wine. While Moore Bros has some good finds, a lot of the stuff isn't worth it, don't forget if you have buying relationships with small wineries in the Southwest of France, you generally will purchase wine in lesser vintages that you will have to sell to your customers. The Namaans road staff of Total wine do not know their product as well as those at Cherry Hill, and the PLCB staff are pitiful.

            1. re: Buckethead

              haha, i just went to moore brothers in NJ - you aren't kidding about "hard to find!" i've cracked open three of the bottles so far and am super-happy with them. i got my own personal wine shopper when i went, because i knew nothing about those wines! they were super-helpful. i don't know about saving money... but as far as trying new things goes, i was in heaven.

              1. re: rabidog

                We love Moore Brothers. We've been going for a number of years, and we have some perennial favorites that we keep buying more of, but we always get some new suggestions every time we go, getting 4 bottles of favorites and 4 new-to-us. If you let Moore Bros. open a login for you on their WineAccess site, you'll have a record of every wine you purchase and you can rate them. So I can quickly find my 'five star' and 'four star' wines as well as remembering the ones I don't like so much. I think most of the bottles we buy are $11-14, but there is a $9 savignon blanc we like (Merigny-Neuf), and a $22 Sancerre. Of course with the strong Euro some of these were a couple bucks less 5 years ago.

                1. re: JugglerDave

                  I love that Merigny-Neuf! It was given to me at a dinner party and is the best sauv blanc I've ever had. However, the last time I was at Moore Bros, I let myself be talked into a $30 bottle of Bordeaux and forgot all about the M. Neuf. Anyway, is that bottle a regular there? I really want to pick one up but probably won't be able to make another visit until next month.

                  1. re: Ali

                    They've had the Merigny-Neuf every time I've gone for at least 3-4 years. There was one vintage year where it wasn't as 'vibrant' as the first year I had, but it's back to its tasy self and a great find at under 10 bucks.

                    We tried a couple of the other M-N varieties but didn't enjoy them like the Sav. Blanc

            2. Agreed on both recommendations. Some additional info to guide your choice is that the super store will have the "name" wines while Moore Bros carries only wines from small vintners. The folks at Moore are very helpful. It is a fun place to spend some time.