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Best Wine Store for Excellent Buying Advice/Guidance?

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I need to buy a really special bottle of wine as a thank you gift, but my own knowledge of wine is pretty limited (esp. when it comes to more expensive bottles, which I only splurge on every couple of years and usually with no idea of what I'm doing).

I'm hoping to find a wine store with employees who can guide me to a bottle that will be really special for a wine drinker and good value for the money (I don't mind spending $50+, if I know that the wine is excellent and will be appreciated).

Do you have a place that gives reliably, consistently great advice, or has lead you to a fantastic bottle? Or a wine store whose selection is so well chosen that I can safely assume an expensive bottle there will be a standout?

My thank you to this person is so heartfelt - I'd love to knock him out with this gift!

Thanks for any help!

(P.S. I'm in Alexandria, but will happily travel to anywhere in the metro area for a store that's got great staff/selection)

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  1. Go to Schneider's on Capitol Hill.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChewFun

      that is exactly what i was going to say! they are great and they usually end up steering you to less expensive bottles

    2. Calvert-Woodley Wine & Spirits is my go-to place. An older gentleman by the name of Pepe is fantastic with recommendations and wine-food pairings. In fact, all of the staff is highly knowledgeable. They've helped me discover many, many fantastic bottles of wine. I wholeheartedly recommend them.

      http://www.wineaccess.com/store/calve...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gigi007

        I second my friend Pepe at Calvert-Woodley and offer the folks at Mac Arthur Beverage as another great shop.

      2. You don't even have to leave Old Town. . . .

        Check out Au Domaine. Owned by Rick (formerly of Rick's Wine and Gourmet) and his wife. They have limited hours (I think Wed to Sat or something, but he always brings in the best wines. Google the name and you can find directions.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Tugboat

          Au Domaine is good. You may want to also check out the Whole Foods in Fair Lakes; Rob (also formerly of Rick's) was hired away by WF to run their wine tasting room there, IIRC, and he's a great resource.

          1. re: Tugboat

            was rick in business with terry wight, by any chance, in "rick's wine and gourmet", which is in a corner of an L-shaped shopping strip on duke street in alexandria? i see the website is still up. http://www.rickswine.com/home.html

            is au domaine an *additional* store for rick? http://www.audomaine.com/

            1. re: alkapal

              Yes, that was Rick's store.

              They decided to split up and Rick opened the new place.

              1. re: Tugboat

                thanks. so, terry is running "rick's" on duke?

                1. re: alkapal

                  talked to terry's mom recently, and he is still running rick's, and having a great time!

          2. biggest and best I have ever been to is Corridor Wine and Spirits in laurel MD. I asked a random employee about Greek wines and he told me a great story while helping me pick out a bottle about how the grapes are grown in the Greek Isles, and his trip to Santorini Wineries in his training as a sommelier. The place is HUGE on the inside, more wine than you could possilby ever want.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bboyneko

              Pepe. In the past I've bought cases based on his opinion. (Of course I buy cases based on a lot of opinions but his taste seems to be very similar to mine I must note here that I know an English grandmother whose taste is bang on with mine... of course she doesn't own or manage a wine shop but if she did...)

            2. Thanks, all, for the suggestions. So many fans of Pepe (and familiarity with the area) definitely call for a trip to chat with him. And I will check out the place in Alexandria, as well, just because it's so close. Thanks again!

              5 Replies
              1. re: Oobay

                Oh, and I find the people at Arrowine in Arlington to be pretty decent too, although I think some of their bottles can be pricey.

                1. re: Oobay

                  Glad to help, Oobay. Let us know how it goes. Cheers.

                  1. re: Oobay

                    I hate to rain on the Pepe parade, but the man does not even drink wine. I don't know, but to me it seems odd to buy wine from someone that does not even taste. In fact it is almost deceiving to me. Go to Macarthur Beverages, better informed staff and a much broader selection that CW

                    1. re: alaint1976

                      Remarkable that a man who you say doesn't drink wine should have taste that is so similar to mine-I who drink enough for both of us! He also, long ago, established his credibility with me. And, it would seem, with a great many other people.

                      1. re: alaint1976

                        Pepe has recommended some real winners to me. Many more than the other staffers at CW. Drinker or not, he's an industry pro.