Above: Acclaimed American wine writer Mike Steinberger has called Chambers St. Wines in lower Manhattan “the Greatest Wine Retailer in America.”
Here’s the funny thing about the wine trade.
Some of the meanest, ugliest, snobbiest, condescending people you’ll ever meet work in the wine profession. Yet it’s also the métier claimed by some of the nicest, most pleasant and beautiful people you’ll ever encounter.
When you step into Chambers St. Wines in lower Manhattan on (yes) Chambers St., you quickly realize that you are surrounded by some of the most affable, informed, and lovely persons in the business.
It’s hard to put your finger on it, but there’s a wonderful snob-free atmosphere of congeniality and excitement on the floor of this tidy shop, where the buyers specialize in organically and biodynamically farmed wines and low sulfur wines, mostly from Europe but with a smattering of “new world” growers who subscribe to wholesome winemaking.
Walking into some wine shops in New York City can be a somber affair: At many of the city’s top retail destinations, the team members often appear as if they had just walked off the set of the “Walking Dead.”
To many urban wine sellers, it sometimes seems, the art of hawking wine is about as interesting as propagating a saliva-borne plague that could quite possibly eliminate humanity.
At Chambers, you immediately sense a greater sense of broader purpose and shared mission. It’s all about selling wine, of course. But the staff’s contagious enthusiasm — it’s clear — reflects an overarching desire to make the world a better place by turning clients on to wines that make them feel good inside and out.
Maybe it’s because the owners’ make wine education a priority for their clients and staff (you’ll find a regularly updated calendar of events, seminars, and tastings on the landing page of the shop’s website).
Or maybe it’s because the world of natural and natural-leaning wines, like the ones regularly stocked there, attracts a more convivially minded and catholic (with a lowercase c) crowd.
We really can’t say. The only thing we know for sure is that we are proud to be included in Chambers St. Wines’ offerings.
2012 La Porta di Vertine Chianti Classico is currently in stock at Chambers St. Wines. Be sure also to check out the shop’s blog and e-letter by visiting its website.