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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.

              1. Another great, but seldom mentioned, place in Delaware is Kreston's, at the junction of I-95 and 202 (Concord Pike). It's a small store with an incredible selection, great prices and specials, and helpful, knowledgeable staff. We actually prefer it to Total Wine, which is kind of headache-making (for us) in its size and scope. (You just go south on 95 and get off at Concord Pike -- it's at the first stop light. Better directions are available on their web site: http://www.krestonwines.com/home_page...)

                1 Reply
                1. re: kagoo

                  If you're all the way down at Kreston's, you're also very close to Moore Bros. in Trolley Square (Wilmington).

                  1. If you haven't made your flight plans yet, I'd fly into BWI, the rent a car and stop at Total Wine in Delaware as you drive up to Philly. Browse the gigantic store at your leisure, then rejoice in knowing that the time you arrive at your destination in Philly would be around the same time your luggage would be coming off the carousel at Philly's airport. :-)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jwbausch

                      I hope you're kidding.. BWI is 90 miles from total wine, PHL is about 12 miles away.

                    2. I guess I should have used this emoticon, ;-), instead of the smiley one. Geez.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jwbausch

                        Oopsie! I missed the smiley. My apologies :(

                      2. Save time, angst, and money and vote against state-run liquor by buying over the internet and having it shipped to your Philly address: e.g. Wine Library (NJ) charges $24 to ship 12 bottles.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: alanalan

                          Many places won't ship wine to a PA address.

                          1. re: alanalan

                            It is illegal to have wine shipped to any PA address. Even the state stores will not ship - you have to pick up there. If you want to order wine over the internet you must have it shipped to a different state. NJ, CT, and NY definitely allow it.

                            Any site that will ship wine to PA is breaking the law, and I believe your product can be confiscated at the post office. Best bet is to drive to NJ.

                            1. re: marianne215

                              That's not accurate. Look at the PLCB web site. It lists the licensees that can ship wine to PA and sets forth the circumstances under which they can do it. Also, see my earlier post below.

                          2. Try Canals in Marlton, NJ, Traino's in Cherry Hill,NJ and Moorestown NJ, and Corkscrewed in Cherry Hill NJ.
                            Good Luck!

                            1. Perhaps I am dating myself, but I am extra careful when I leave Pennsylvania and buy alcohol across the border.

                              I know that scores of people have been arrested for smuggling by Pennsylvania liquor control agents who watch as Pennsylvania people leave liquor stores in another state, follow them to Pennsylvania, and then arrest them as soon as they cross the border back into Pennsylvania.

                              Or were those the bad old days ?

                              1. CindyJ is right.

                                The Cutner decision out of the Eastern District of PA declared PA's law prohibiting direct shipment unconstitutional on equal protection grounds pursuant to the Granholm decision out of the U.S. Supreme Court. Rendell has since put together a proposal that would permit direct shipment from other states, but it is still being considered by the PA legislature.

                                In the interim, Internet purveyors have been trying to figure out what to do. As CindyJ noted, some have taken a conservative approach, presuming that direct shipment is still prohibited UNLESS and UNTIL it is permitted by the PA legislature. Other Internet purveyors, however, are taking a more aggressive approach, presuming that because there is no longer a law prohibiting direct shipment by out-of-state wineries, it is now permitted.

                                According to its web site, Wine Libary appears to take the more aggressive view. Other Internet purveyors I have heard of also take the more aggressive view.

                                That being said, I'm not sure what the PLCB's position on this is. But the PLCB's website still appears to cite the same cumbersome statutes and regulations regarding direct shipment that were in place before Cutner (Importantly, the Cutner decision enjoined the PLCB from enforcing these rules ONLY insofar as they treat in-state and out-of-state wineries differently; it did not outlaw them altogether).

                                More to the initial poster's question: as JugglerDave noted, the PLCB specialty store at 1218 Chestnut Street is well-stocked and should fit the bill.