Max and Richs’ Friday and Saturday 4-6pm Wine Tastings at 1112 Chestnut St
Rich wants to pour you some wine!
In Pennsylvania we have had to deal with the state controlling all wine and spirit sales through their state stores, where prices average 30% higher than New Jersey or Delaware (fyi- it’s illegal to purchase alcohol over the state line and bring it home to PA). Only recently are grocery stores allowed to sell wine and from what I have seen in Center City, the prices are even higher as they don’t have the Chairman Specials that the state stores do.
An Austrian Blaufrankisch (similar to the Pinot Noir grape and oh so yummy) for $10.99?! Thank you Max!!
That said, we are still going to buy, and some state stores do a better job of offering a wide range of inventory than others. My favorite in Center City is the Wine and Spirits store on Chestnut St. between 11th and 12th, and that’s because Max and Rich are both knowledgeable, passionate wine experts who listen to your preferences and do all they can to help you find the wine you are looking for. Max, who I first met through a tasting study group, also purchases for the store outside the Chairman Specials and his vast and detailed palate leads him toward some very interesting and well-priced selections. I rarely leave without as many bottles as I can carry.
A Crozes- Hermitage for $20?? I bought two to cellar and take to a BYOB.
Every Friday and Saturday, from 4-6pm, Max (on the left) and Rich host a free wine tasting which showcase different styles of wine every week. They have a fun, eclectic following of Center City wine enthusiasts, and much camaraderie and wine discussion is shared as people stop by for a taste and pick up a bottle or three for the weekend.
Someone might be headed for a BYOB; Max or Rich will look up the restaurant menu on line and make suggestions for pairing. One guy was roasting a leg of lamb; umm, that needs something oaked. A Bordeaux Superior from St. Emillion? How about an old vine Barossa Shiraz from Australia?
Max started with the state stores as a college job and enjoyed working with wine so much he has made a career out of it. I asked Rich, a former engineer who is a South Philly native, what moved him towards a love of wine, and his response was very entertaining.
“Where I grew up my parents drank homemade Italian wine- you could get a gallon jug for a couple of bucks. Once they got a jug of bitter, really bad dandelion wine and passed it on to me. It was so horrible I thought, all wine can’t be this bad, so I started buying bottles at the store, paying maybe $6-8 a bottle. I would bring them home, and my parents would say why are you paying so much for wine, you can a big jug for half that! But they drank the wine and liked it. So I started learning to appreciate good wine.
At Christmas we would have Great Western, a so-called American Champagne. It was $6-8. When I was 22 or so I bought a bottle of Mumm’s for under the tree. My parents asked how much it was. $20. Again, why did you spend so much, you are wasting your money. Then they drank it. Silence. Um, this is really good! So then I had to bring the champagne every year.”
If you get the chance, stop by, meet these Philly wine experts and try something new. Tell ‘em Gwendolyne sent you.