Six Reasons Why You Should Only Buy Wine at Independent Shops

Neighborhood Cellar in Oak Clif is a great local spot to start crafting your own wine cellar.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Neighborhood Cellar in Oak Clif is a great local spot to start crafting your own wine cellar.
It’s never been easier to buy wine in Dallas — at big box stores, supermarkets, specialty grocers, chains, convenience stores and even retailers that sell rattan furniture. They offer a combination of convenience and low prices, and if you’re confused or aren’t quite sure what you’re buying, the convenience and savings make up for it, right?

Not necessarily.

That’s because, even if the confusion isn’t mind-numbing and the prices actually are lower, there’s no guarantee the wine you’re buying offers quality and value. This is not to say these stores only sell plonk; rather, it’s to note that they work on volume, and there’s a big difference between selling a lot of wine and selling wine that offers quality and value. This is why local independent retailers are the wine drinker’s best friends.

Following are six benefits you'll get from visiting your neighborhood, locally owned wine spot.

All Shopping Should Be Fun, But Especially Wine Shopping
“What we are able to offer, as an independent that box stores don’t have, is the shopping experience,” Ian Montgomery of Neighborhood Cellar in Oak Cliff says. “We have wines that are hard to find, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, locally owned and all-around more fun shopping experience.”

click to enlarge Bodega Wine Bar is a bar and a retail spot. - LAUREN DREWES DANIELS
Bodega Wine Bar is a bar and a retail spot.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
Better Customer Service
The best independent retailers understand that customer service matters. It’s better to sell you cases and cases of wine over the long term than six mediocre bottles and never see you again. And they price their products fairly, without the come-ons and phony discounts that dominate the marketplace at the biggest retailers.

Fully Vetted Bottles
“Trying to find a good $10 to $15 bottle of wine is far more difficult than finding a good $25-$30 bottle,” says Julie Buckner of Bar and Garden Dallas, on Ross near downtown. “We have done the tasting for you and you will not walk away with something that isn't delicious. Period.”

A Two-Way Conversation
A quality independent wine retailer will also ask and answer the right questions that will help you figure out what you want. Red or white, sweet or dry? A retailer should also let you ask questions without making you feel uncomfortable or answer you as if you're being humored in the way adults humor small children. Does the retailer answer your questions? Are the answers clear or wrapped up in wine-speak? If you say you don't understand what they mean by leathery or oaky, they should smile and explain what they mean.

Discover New Varieties
The best retailers do more than sell wine. They help you find a wine that you didn't know you would like. It's easy to sell someone something that they already know about. What's more difficult, and a mark of the best retailers, is to find something new — a Spanish albarino or French picpoul instead of an Italian pinot grigio, for example, or a fruity rosé instead of a white zinfandel.

Great Bennies
“Brooks and I have been walking the Veritas floor for the past 13 years. This time has given us the opportunity to get to know our customers and our customers to get to know us,” says Bradley Anderson, who owns Veritas on Henderson along with his brother Brooks. “Forming a strong relationship with your local wine merchant is a relationship with many benefits.”

And what is better in wine than that?