Tucked away snugly in a brick building on Lafayette and 4th is the one and only Astor Wine & Spirits. When you walk in, looking down from the top of the stairs, you get this grand yet humble welcome from the store. A sea of wooden shelves featuring over 3,000 wines and 2,000 spirits from all over the world spreads though the whole floor, with signs above labeling the country of origin or style of making. Whatever you are going in to purchase; they probably have it.
The layout of the store is organized by sections. The most popular wines, red and white, from French, Italian, Spain, or Old World wines, are mostly in the front. Following towards the back are the rarer ones, such as Hungarian and Armenian wines. The shelves behind that are from Australia, New Zealand, California, New World. Against the back wall is all the spirits, rum, brandy and darker liquors. To the left side there is a temperature humidity-controlled room. Contrary to popular belief, the controlled room isn’t only for expensive wines; regular table wines can be found there too!
Almost every bottle there is small notecard underneath it with a description. Signs with green leaves indicate that it’s a organic or biodynamic wine. It’s become a more common sight of these orange wines, where they take fruit peels and incorporate them into the winemaking process. These have been on the soar lately. What’s trending now is being healthy, sustainable food/drinks, and nonconventional ways to do things- and these orange and “natural” wines are the new hype.
Bambi, one of the sales managers, was kind enough to give me a walk around the premises and insight on the business and winemaking in general. She has been in the wine industry for quite some time now; she enjoys educating people on it and helping them find the right bottle to take home. One of the first things you see when you walk in is the register to the left; and towards the middle of the whole floor is a tasting area. Every week they hold tastings to feature staff picks or a new style. It’s important that wine sellers don’t just sell wine; but also, to introduce and expand the palates of those who purchase and drink. They hold classes upstairs from time to time, hiring industry professionals to come in and share their knowledge, or just studying a specific area or wine style. In this way, they are more interactive with their customers, potential clients, and overall in the industry itself.