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Favorite Wine Shops in MSP?

So I love wine and ever since going to a few wine stores this summer in SF and Berkeley I have been trying to find "my" wine store. Yes, I realize I am setting the bar a little high, but I really loved the wine buying experience out there where the sales person really took the time to figure out what I liked and didnt like and what I was looking to spend (very important).

I do like Sam's Wines quite a bit. I went in and told him what I liked and what I wanted to spend and to pick out some wines for me. Pretty much all winners. But wondering if people have some secret neighborhood store that they love or has no idea what they are selling and have some great stuff at crazy low prices.

I will give my pick for St. Anthony Liquors just because they have some weird stuff in there once in a while at some great low prices. Like all the Three Thieves wine (Joel Gott's low price wine in jugs and tetrapacks, all great table wines) and some Bonny Doon stuff at great prices.

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  1. It's quite small -- only about 150 wines, I think -- but I really like the Wine Thief on St. Clair Ave. in St. Paul. I've found some great things there and the owners are super-friendly.


    Solo Vino on Selby, also in St. Paul, is bigger, and always has interesting Spanish, South American and French choices.

    1. I have become a big fan of Big Discount Liquor on Concord St. in South St. Paul. It's run by a couple of 20-sometings who on first glance, don't look like wine guys but they really know their stuff. They've got a great selection and are just as likely to recommend the $6 bottle as the $30 bottle.

      There are 4 BDL locations, I can only vouch for the one on SSP. If you go, ask for Zach.

      1. I don't consume much wine, but I usually see Surdyk's mentioned on these threads.

        1. The thing about the wine stores in the Twin Cities is that each one carries a different bunch of wines (not counting the stuff that everyone has to have). I've been to lots of stores while shopping for my wine tasting group; each one has a different feel. I recommend trying a bunch to see which one works for you.

          The ones that click with me are:

          Solo Vino: Smallish stock, but wines are chosen well, and the staff is extremely helpful. They usually have a better selection of Spanish wines than other places. (I'm a BIG fan of Spanish wine.) But prices tend to be high - that is, higher than the sale prices at other stores - so this is my special-occasion place.


          Zipp's: Prices are high (unless they're having a sale, in which case they're quite low), but they've got an excellent array of inexpensive, unusual wines, plus the cities' best selection of organic wines (one of my current interests - try Les Heretiques or Yorkville Cellars!). And the wine people are great. They work hard at matching a wine to your tastes; I've never been disappointed by something they recommend. If you like St. Anthony Liquors, give Zipp's a try.


          Surdyk's: Big, mainstream, and often too busy to get much attention, but if you catch a wine guy/gal when they have time, they're a wonderful resource. I've learned over time which ones have similar tastebuds to mine, so I go when they're available. I was weaned at Surdyk's (so to speak), so this is my regular store. They have a lot of nice wines, but their rose' selection really sucks (I'm a rose' fan, obviously...).


          Hennepin-Lake Liquors: I hate this place, because it's hard to park, they don't take credit cards, and the staff smokes in the back (making the store stinky), but I go there because they've got great sales and the wine guys really know their stuff. Plus they always have a few bottles open for tasting. And there's often a distributor or wine expert wandering around who will chime in with advice (like Jason Kallsen, who was my favorite wine guy when he worked at Surdyk's). City Pages picked H-L for best of 2006.


          Enjoy your research!


          1 Reply
          1. re: AnneInMpls

            I know it's not exactly responsive to the question, but I love Surdyk's adjoining food shop. There's always something interesting in there--cheeses or olives or something--worth investigating while you're there.


          2. I like South Lyndale Liquors (S. Lyndale at 53rd). It's close to us and there's a decent selection of reasonably priced Spanish, S. American, Italian and Aussie/Kiwi wines. Their discounted wines are generally quite good -- this isn't the case at many stores. Just a general observation: California wines are way overpriced everywhere; Spain is my main man when it comes to vino.

            1 Reply
            1. re: plautus

              Spain, Argentina, Portugal and Chile are inexpensive and well worth getting familiar with on a regular basis. I have pretty much quit buying CA wines as I just find them to be boring against all the southern hemisphere counterparts. There is so much to explore from that area of the world.

              1. re: lollya

                I've had really good luck doing special orders with Haskell's.


              2. Tournament Liquors in Blaine is one of the best wine selections I have found, with unique offerings that change enough to be interesting without being redundant. They offer wine tastings, they have a wine club that allows for a 20% discount on wine purchases (per bottle, not per order) and have very knowledgeable staff.

                Tournament Liquors
                10901 Baltimore Street
                Blaine, MN 55449. 763-786-4992.

                Their website is under construction.

                1. I am a big fan of the new Napa Jack's in St. Louis Park on Minnetonka. It is clean, airy and bright. They have a large selection of unique wines under $12 and the sales staff is knowledgable and gracious. They also have a tasting bar where you can taste wines every evening. I like the new business passion that they seem to have still too.


                  1. Another plug for Hennepin-Lake, and not just because it's my local store. They have tastings every weekend and there're usually staff prowling the wine aisles who know what they're talking about. The beer selection isn't bad either...

                    1. I can't speak to the quality of the selection but someone just told me that Sam's Wine Shop in the Warehouse district has a really nice room where they do tasting and it can be rented out for private parties. This person went to an engagement party/champagne tasting there. Sounds very fun.

                      1. Sam's also has tastings the first Wednesday of every month, and occasional other tastings interspersed (they had a holiday champagne tasting in mid-December in their "cellar" - the big room downstairs). Usually, the tastings are on sale. One of my fave aspects of Sam's is that they are as happy to sell you an 8-dollar bottle as they are a 38-dollar bottle. Makes you realize 3-buck chuck isn't such a great deal.

                        The loft/condo complex that is going in on Washington where Liquor Depot used is supposed to house the gourmet wine shop that the Liquor Depot owners are going to open. If they run it like they ran the Depot, there should be some interesting bargains there as well.

                        1. France 44 liquor on.....France and 44th

                          1. Try Bright Wines in North St. Paul. You will either love them or hate them. If you sign up for the email you get a long email about tastings and specials once a week. (You might think it is to long)