Amherst Party Shop
275 S. Main St., Amherst
Dick Currier is proud that the store he and his wife, Rose, opened in 1972 is now attracting customers from Russia, Japan and China. He says they find out about it through word of mouth, learning about the store from friends and family in Northeast Ohio.
Amherst Party Shop began as a grocery and beverage store. By 2009, it was a wine store with an inventory of 4,500 labels priced from $4.99 to $500.
“There was a demand for something beyond a grocery store,” says Dick, who admits to having little prior knowledge of wines before opening the shop. “It’s an ongoing learning process.”
The result of his on-the-job training includes a store with an inventory of local, California and international labels. He attributes the sales of specific wines to his tasting table. “Once we put something out to taste, nine out of 10 people will buy it.” The shop began carrying Argentine malbecs after introducing them at a wine tasting. “They’re now among the top sellers.”
Minotti’s Wine & Liquor
34319 Center Ridge Road, North Ridgeville
John Minotti and his brother started Minotti’s in 1959, opening 18 Northeast Ohio stores by the 1980s. His nephew, Dan, joined the business in 1994.
“I grew up in the business,” says Dan.
Today people rely on Minotti’s for wines that might not be available elsewhere in the area. Opus One wine and Cristal champagne are requested during the holiday season, while collectors look to Minotti’s to continue their “vertical sets” (collections of the same wine each year). The stores carry boutique wines and hard-to-find varieties, plus popular and common options as well.
“We carry a number of more expensive wines, but today people are discovering great value in wines priced $15 or less. Customers don’t have to spend $20 to $30.
Wine tastings are held on the premises. Minotti’s also arranges in-home events. “We go through our distributors. The distributor comes out to the person’s house, and those who are attending may purchase wines through them. The concept is becoming increasingly popular.”
The Wine Room
35840 Chester Road, Avon
With more than 2,000 bottles and a variety of specialty beers in stock, owners Maureen and Rob O’Malley have established a wine inventory designed to appeal to novice wine drinkers and ones with a more sophisticated palate.
Their Friday and Saturday wine tastings have brought 40 people out on cold, snowy days, and as many as 2,500 people show up when wine makers visit. “We encourage our customers interested in learning more about wines to train their palates,” says Maureen. “Be open to trying different things. You can’t start by drinking a dry Cabernet. It’s like coffee. You start with cream and sugar and then gain an appreciation and begin drinking it black.”
Maureen says her employees are extremely well versed and can tell you everything you want to know about wines.