Cool Wine Shop Alert: Forêt in Ridgewood, Queens

I’ve been spending more time in Ridgewood now that a very good friend lives there. If you find yourself in this part of Queens and are thirsting for some natural (“natty”) bottles, check out Forêt Wines.

Two visits in and its got all the things I like about a wine shop: small, charming, eclectic yet somehow focused. A selection that’s a reflection of the proprietor. Speaking of, that would be Marie Tribouilloy. She’s a co-owner of Ops in Bushwick, one of my favorite pizza spots. (It’s got lots of natty wine served w/o a list. You just say what you want to drink and someone will bring you a few things until you and a wine click. Though they usually nail it on the first taste.)

A duo of bottles I picked up were both aces. The first was a Meinklang Gruner Veltliner. Bottled with a screw cap, it is tailor-made for a BYOB spot. The red was more serious, with some body and heft: Simon Busser Pure Cot 2016. Cot* is what the French call Malbec. If all you have been exposed to is versions from Argentina, buckle up. Because this is a much different ride. Honestly this is probably the first Cot I’ve had from the Cahors area in quite a while. (This wine is a Vin de France so there must be a reason it’s not appellation labeled but the Cahors region is Busser’s stomping grounds.**) Most I’ve drank have been from the Loire Valley, and on the lighter side.

With these two bottles at dinner, normally I hit the white until it’s gone then begrudgingly shift to red. But after pouring a splash of Pure Cot, I went back to the red wine well again and again. Usually I don’t care for full-bodied wines but this one was voluminous in a totally compelling way. Juicy, fruity, complex, long fresh finish. Damn!

Anyway, if a wine shop can pick out a bottle like that for you, it is gold. (My mandate was full-bodied red and “unlimited budget.” I really did say the latter but I mean my idea of unlimited is like over $20 and under $50.) So check out Forêt Wines the next time you are in Ridgewood. I take the L to Myrtle and stroll there but you can also take the M to Forest. Or research bus routes. Ride share. Bicycle. Walk. Teleport, etc.

For more on Forêt Wines, check out Grubstreet and Bushwick Daily. Also it’s right next to Sundown, a lovely space of a bar. And my friend is one of the owners. So go have a cocktail/beer/wine and then buy a bottle next door. Or vice-versa.

*JR says with or w/o the circumflex. So there. I do like the hat on the “o” of “Côt.”

**Astor Wines has an explanation.

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A Wine Shop Bestowing Bottles with Unique, Delightful Notes

One of my favorite activities as a buyer at the QFC Broadway Market in Seattle was hand-writing notes about wines I personally selected for the store. (I also had crazy things happen there.) We refer to such written missives in the business as “shelf talkers.”

What they all have in common is a long profile and a width less than that of a wine bottle. Huge brands have really “meh” generic ones. Some sales reps write their own. I remember fondly one rep who made these really fun laminated shelf talkers. That was great because they take a lot of abuse. Her superhero persona was “The Laminator.” Her powers? Selling a hell of a lot of wine with her enthusiastic prose.

Recently I was in Cold Spring, New York. A charming little town in the Hudson Valley, I toured around with a fellow wine biz pro/local resident/all-around ace (thanks, Sarah). We popped into many delightful, highly instagrammable shops. One notable location was Flowercup Wine.

Frankly, they have the best shelf talkers I’ve ever seen. The combination of the layout, words, and images was an informative delight. Here is one example:

You start with a little tasting note, brief geography/soil info, plus a fun fact about beekeeping. Region and grape are then listed, followed by nuts-and-bolts production methods. It all finishes with the winery’s sustainable practices.

Then, the fun part.

I love the images used to denote the style, personality, effect, and flavors of the wine. The “effect” is really cool, as I like to think emotionally/philosophically as far as the impact of an intriguing bottle.

They also are clearly aligned with my interests and passions, like supporting dark rosés. Also, the owners are fans of dinosaurs and cheese.


Two More Stops in Cold Spring

There’s a nice General Store. Don’t forget to pick up some flowers in the back of the shop.

Even if you don’t need a haircut, go to Barber and Brew and have some beers. There’s a bar past the chairs. If you do need a trim, you get a discounted beer afterward. How cool is that?

Tell me about a wine shop you dig.

For more on shelf talkers, check out this article in SevenFifty Daily.

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