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Favorite store-selected mixed case of wine?

Ever since reading Eric Asimov's NY Times column about asking a trusted wine shop to select a mixed case for you, I've been wanting to give it a try to expand my oenophilic horizons. I was curious to hear other hounds' opinions on the best places around Boston to do this.

I'd be looking for a case in roughly the $300 range, but would be curious to hear opinions on lower- and higher-end options as well. Reasonable prices are a plus, but what I'm really after is a knowledgeable, friendly staff and an interesting selection of bottles that will make the experience both enjoyable and edifying. Thoughts?

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  1. Two ideas:

    Low-end - Dave's Fresh Pasta in Davis Square. Their wine-buyer is smart, hunts for value and has some really great mixed cases available.

    Higher-end - Formaggio Kitchen in Huron Village is very close to your specifics. I'm always thrilled with staff recommendations.

    1. I've been working my way through the Brix Six and really enjoying their selections. Way cheaper than you were thinking (I believe it was $65?), but I can't speak highly enough of their knowledgeable, friendly, funny staff and I know they'd be able to put together something great for you.

      1. I have been pleased with Brix in the South End and Wine Bottega in the North End.

        2 Replies
        1. re: 9lives

          I will third the Brix Six. In fact, I don't remember buying a wine they've recommended that I didn't enjoy.

          1. re: wittlejosh

            And I will second the Wine Bottega.

        2. Bauer Wines is very good at matching a mix to a price range. I'll echo the many Brix endorsements.

          1. I'm an Asimov fan so I actually started the process when it was printed. I took both of his lists over to Brix and had Carri there put together a case for me. I'm just about finished tasting my way through it and have loved about 3/4 of the picks. A few were misses -- but in my opinion, that's a good sign. She was able to put 2 of Asimov's picks in the case which I thought were ok. Then she pulled 10 other bottles that had a similar variety/place of origin as the others he picked (from the first list, not the all-French one). I paid $205 with the discount which I was thrilled about (my budget was $250).

            I highly recommend going there - and since Carri's already done it before, she'll know just what to choose. Another bonus: They keep a file of all the bottles you buy from them so when you find one you like, and maybe can't remember the name, they'll be able to pull it up for you.

            Enjoy! It's actually a lot of fun.

            1. If you can travel to Somerville/Cambridge line, the Wine and Cheese Cask should do a great job for you if you tell them what your likes are and also what food you might be eating along with the wine. Ask for Steve or Dan who have helped me out numerous times over the years.

              1. Cambridge Wine (formerly Fresh Pond Discount Liquor, I think) next to Whole Foods at Alewife has a really broad selection with some real gems at your price point and lower -- I think it's important to find the individuals there who can really help you -- I only know them by sight, but imagine asking for the wine buyer would be good start.

                I do also really enjoy Wine Bottega and Wine & Cask, but they don't have as large an inventory as far as I can tell. I think Formaggio is really good, too, but think their prices aren't as low in general as the other three.

                1. Thanks all for the responses!

                  Good news along these lines for denizens of the Financial District: Brix has hung banners in a space at the corner of Broad and Wendell, announcing a planned opening in fall of 2007.

                  Also, does anyone have any opinions about Federal Wine and Spirits? The guys working there seem pleasantly quirky and knowledgeable, but I don't have much experience with their inventory.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: finlero

                    Quirky and knowledgeable is exactly right. They have pretty interesting selections and, for a high rent location, there prices are not exorbitant. Thanks for the heads up about Brix. Should be a welcome addition to the neighborhood now that Merchants Wine and Spirits on Water Street seems to have closed.

                  2. Marty's on Washington Street in Newton (next to Whole Foods) does a great job building cases of wines. A nice mix of expensive and not-as-expensive to get to a good average cost.