Underdog Wine / Photo by Bonjwing Lee
Specialized collections are exciting. You can zero in on a particular region, style or winemaker and learn more about each corner of the wine world.
In 2007, Phyllis Adatto and Tim Smith were frustrated by not being able to get their favorite French wines in the Houston area, so they took matters into their own hands. They opened a small importer-distributor with a retail arm, and thus French Country Wines was born. In 2018, they sold the business to Jean-Philippe Guy, who continues to hand-select great bottles that support sustainable agriculture.
Sunshine Foss was born in Brooklyn, and Brooklyn is where she ended up. She opened Happy Cork with a mission to showcase not only wine and spirits, but also art and accessories, created by Black people and other people of color. She believes she has the largest selection of such wines and has made her shop a destination for those seeking them.
If you browse this shop online, you’ll notice that there’s no option to sort by region. That’s because, with a handful of exceptions that are mostly Champagne, the former wine buyer for luxury grocer Dean & DeLuca sells California wines. And, right in the heart of Napa, why would she look anywhere else? Bottles range from a $15 Central Coast red blend to a $3,100 cult Harlan Estate Cabernet.
New York City
If there were any doubts that skin-contact, or orange, wines are here to stay, surely this shop eliminates them. Started as a wine club by Sommelier Doreen Winkler, Orange Glou grew into this Lower East Side space with allocated wines. The shop opened with 50 labels available and is working its way up to 100, in a range of styles from all over the world.
Kansas City, MO
With two locations in Kansas City, this shop’s focus is right there in its name: “We root for the Underdogs. The small production, family owned guys and girls making honest wines.” Selections rotate and come in a wide range of prices, but what remains is a spirit of supporting the little guys—and drinking extremely well in the process.