A Selection of NYC’s Free and Paid Tastings, Blind Flights and Classes
Wine is so hot right now in NYC, you can find free tastings almost nightly throughout the city. With so many tastings to choose from, the discerning wine enthusiast might want to invest in a little advance research to maximize your tasting experience.
Many of NYC’s better wine stores offer free tastings, usually with a major wine as a hook to entice customers, knowing a good percentage will buy. It isn’t necessary to buy, but the discounts offered on bottles tasted make them very tempting! Sherry Lehman on Park Avenue, for example, is known for their tastings of Cristal and other significant wines.
NYC is not a town for public wine consumption, but many restaurants will allow you to bring your own with a corkage fee. For a list of NYC restaurants with no corkage fees, check here or here. Neither of these lists are very updated – Bacchanal, a top restaurant with no-corkage Mondays is not on the list, but their predecessor restaurant Apiary (RIP) is. Call before carrying wine.
Visitors to NYC can find wine events on the Local Wine Events app or by checking the sites of popular stores.
Wine Stores that Offer Free Tastings:
Astor Wines – huge store with wines by region and a great liquor selection, including many artisanal brands. Excellent assistance. Free tastings on weekends – usually wine on Saturday and liquors on Sunday. Many classes and special events.
Chambers Street – world renowned, specializing in natural, organic and biodynamic wines, they usually offer tastings Wednesday – Friday.
Chelsea Wine Vault – in Chelsea Market, free tastings are usually on Friday nights, or Saturday or Sunday. Chelsea Wine Vault also offers affordable wine classes on specific wine regions and styles.
Bottlerocket Wine & Spirit – claiming to be a user friendly wine shop, my neighborhood wine store is well curated. Organized by region, but also unique kiosks with wine pairing suggestions. Friendly and knowledgable staff. Tastings on Thursdays and special events like Thanksgiving wine/food pairings.
Moore Brothers – specializing in small producer, artisan wines, mainly from the old world – this store has frequent tastings with generous pours of well chosen wines.
Flatiron Wines – a tasting treasure. They usually have Champagne on Friday night or Saturday. Excellent selection and often tastings hosted by renowned winemakers. Spirits tastings on Sunday.
Le Du – premier wine store in the West Village known for excellent advice and helpful staff. Usually hosts substantial free tastings on Saturday.
67 Wine – this upper west side store that has been in business since 1941 boasts excellent prices on hard to find wines. They offer free tastings, usually Wednesday through Saturday.
Union Square Wines – with tastings on most Saturdays and a unique system that allows wine enthusiasts to try before they buy, Union Square Wines is well combined with a visit to the farmers or holiday market.
Pasanella & Son – near South Street Seaport and the hopefully soon to be permanent New Amsterdam sporadic weekend food market, Pasanella & Son is a beautiful store that luckily recovered from Hurricane Sandy. They offer tastings with generous pours on weekends.
Smith & Vine – Brooklyn’s premier destination for wines, liquor – this small store is crammed with excellent wines. They have regular tastings – check their site for info.
Many other stores offer regularly scheduled tastings – or informally offer wine to customers.
Wine Stores with Paid Tastings/Classes:
Astor, Chelsea Wine Vault, Back Label Wines and more offer regular scheduled tastings and classes often focusing on particular regions.
Wine tasting courses give visitors an opportunity to meet locals, learn about wines from specific regions or styles, and venture beyond ordinary tourist pursuits.
Corkbuzz in Chelsea Market offers New Yorkers and visitors an opportunity to learn more about wines through classes, special wine-paired dinners, and their popular blind flights on Friday afternoon. Or check out the non-blind flights the rest of the week.
NYC Wine Class in Chelsea offers a popular Wine 101 class and specialized classes for specific wine regions or styles.
Wine bars are also very hot in NYC now – and there are ones worth visiting all over the city. Some noteworthy wine bars worth traveling for are:
City Winery, which is now in 4 states, has great music acts and is a great space for special events.
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