Posts Tagged ‘wine retail’

Baseball, retail, and square bottles of whisky.

July 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Howdy Free Rangers,

Okay, so this is weird. It seems the wrong people are becoming a bit afraid of me. Let me first say this: If you are reading this e-mail and have enough empathy in your heart to have ever wondered what it’s like to be on our side of the sales counter, you are not one of the people whose story makes it into these chronicles, about customers that drive us mad. Meanwhile, that same whiskey bro I bitched about last time apparently came back while I was out and started pointing to bottles behind the counter and offering Derek “cash prices” (tax free) below retail. Since it’s illegal to not charge sales tax, he was really asking for a double discount. This guy has yet to put a penny into our business, and is only interested in our very rarest items, so not sure why he thinks anybody would want to give him a deal and incentivize his return.

Conversely, we have endless patience for, and take great enjoyment in, honest questions about wine and spirits, no matter how simple or complex. I can talk about the differences between Bourbon and Rye, or the subtle similarities shared by Pinot Noir and Syrah, all day. That’s kind of how I ended up here. And while I know a fair amount about these things, I certainly don’t know everything about anything. Part of what’s so cool about the world of wine & spirits is that any true student of the game is always learning. Though I suppose one could say that about any worthwhile discipline, and/or student. Whatever you’re into, if you genuinely believe there’s nothing more for you to learn there, you’re probably doing it wrong.

Reps, colleagues, and customers bring things to my attention all the time that result in questions and research on my end, which really is part of the fun. At some point, I reallocated all of the brain space that used to contain sports stats and trivia; so while I no longer remember who played 3rd base for the Pittsburg Pirates in 1960, I can tell you with relative confidence that unless you have a profoundly rare acute allergy- which completely prevents you from ever eating deli meat or dried apricots- it wasn’t the miniscule amount of sulfites in the wine that caused your headache last Friday. But seriously, please don’t stand in front of the fridge when you enter the shop. Those same bottles are priced on the wall (low to high), where the lights are on, five more feet into the building. Also, you’re blocking the front door, which isn’t cool to us, other patrons, or to the tenets of basic social distancing. Please help us out here.

Re: sports stats, baseball was my first love, and I do still remember that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record on April 8th, 1974. He also once graciously let me interview him for a high school term paper on Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. April 8th, was also the birthday of Mets’ great, Gary Carter, who wore #8 on his jersey, while his knees slowly disintegrated behind home plate. Gary was also super nice to an awkward adolescent me, and autographed just about everything I owned, during a few consecutive spring breaks of leaning over the rail at pre-season ballgames in West Palm Beach. It is for these reasons that even though I haven’t followed team sports for many years, I do still celebrate Baseball Day every April 8th. Please feel free to bring your own peanuts and Crackerjacks. Hopefully by next spring we’ll be hosting in-store tastings, and we can pour the perfect pairing for that.

This week’s Open Hours remain (though we’ve been staying open later than posted fairly frequently).

Mon – Thurs:             1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:                      1 – 8pm
Sunday:                       1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

[NOTE: THIS SALE IS OVER, to receive e-mails directly from Free Range Wine & Spirits (while the sales are active), please enter your e-mail address at the bottom of the front page on our site:]

Congratulations on making it to the sale portion or our show! Unfortunately, I’m not tech savvy enough to generate a coupon code without Derek here, so we’re going with an old fashioned must-re:-this-e-mail style offer right now! I suppose it’s also radio call-in style, because the next 6 people to reply with intent to purchase, shall receive 1 bottle of Nikka From the Barrel Japanese Whisky @ $99 (usually $139), first e-mailed, first served!


Free Range Wine & Spirits








“Oh, you mean a store pick?”

May 26, 2020 Leave a comment

Here’s the latest from Free Range Wine & Spirits (not sure why this didn’t post last week):

View this email in your browser
Hey Free Rangers,

Let’s skip the apocalypse talk this week (we all know what’s going on- and/or not going on), and head straight for the rare Bourbon deal of the week, about which we are fairly excited. But first, let’s talk about (whiskey) bottle hunters. There’s a breed of whiskey bro who only want the rarest blue chip bottles of which they’re already aware (Stagg, Pappy, Weller 12), or the latest tiny production darling of some blog, and only at the lowest price in the country. They’ll ask price quotes on 10 or 20 rare bottles, then tell us how much less they paid at some warehouse liquor store in a flyover state (or central Jersey), and often they buy nothing. These same guys are completely uninterested in our exclusive single barrels. And it’s hard to take somebody seriously who claims to be motivated by scarcity and intrigue, but has no interest in a single barrel Elijah Craig 8yr for $36, and the 217 bottles stacked here are the only that will ever exist on Earth: a rare variation on a classic Bourbon (with an age statement) for 36 bucks. “Oh, you mean a store pick,” is the response. Neither of us are impressed. *It should be noted that web site prices on those big ticket items are often flexible for anyone in our system, who has purchased whiskey with us before. 

We’re quite excited about our new exclusive Elijah Craig Free Range Single Barrel 8yr Bourbon, and we still have a bit of our previous, Elijah Craig Free Range Single Barrel 10yr. We’re offering a coupon code for 1 bottle of each 8yr and 10yr for $59 (normally $78). Click here: Elijah Craig Exclusives Deal! *
** This week only (limit 6 per customer) ***

Once again we’re closed Monday this week.
The rest of the week’s Open Hours are status quo:

Tuesday:            Pick-up only! 1 – 7pm
Wednesday:       Pick-up only! 1 – 7pm
Thursday:           Open 1 – 7pm
Fri – Sat:            Open 1 – 7pm
Sunday:             Open 1 – 7pm

Always worth a call, if you think it’s getting late: 718.643.2250

Lots of great new (and old) bottles added to the web site this week, and we’re always happy to discuss anything you see and/or specifically don’t see there:
More fun with rare whiskey ahead.


Free Range Wine & Spirits

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Op-Cred: Do Not Drink This Story

March 26, 2017 Leave a comment

I’ve been trying to make sense of Bianca Bosker’s loathsome piece in The Times on engineered swill wine since it first darkened my inbox. I get that it’s opinion, but any editor who lets this kind of crap slip by should be ashamed. If there isn’t a better point to be made, maybe give that space to another writer, or even a remotely entertaining ad. I read a smart and fairly measured response by Rachel Signer, and very much enjoyed Eric Asimov’s sober assessment via Twitter. So now that the rest of the wine world has moved on and no longer cares, here goes.

What irked me so fiercely about that absurd defense of shit wine for schmucks is that it posed industrial engineered plonk in a direct continuum with the current natural wine fad. This completely disregards a profound array of good, honest, tasty wine that is neither, to no discernible useful end.

Many great winemakers are doing things right, being relative stewards of the earth, but still choose to intervene in the process, and/or add a tiny amount of SO2 for stability. These are very often the most consistently pleasurable wines on the market, and are completely ignored by this absurd piece of clickbait penned by the self-styled Cork Dork (a title ensuring that I’ll never read the book). It’s about wine and wine people, not the life and times of the Quercus suber, yes? Oh, I get it; it rhymes, and it’s easy to remember. Anyway, many climates require a little help to produce viable grapes, even if not necessarily every season, and many wines need a little stability so they don’t continue to ferment (or immediately start deteriorating), such that every bottle in the same case tastes different. Neglect and chance are not viable winemaking techniques.

Besides being the ethos of many wonderful dedicated juice artists ‘natural’ is a buzzword used to sell stuff, just as is ‘organic’, and to a lesser extent, ‘biodynamic’. The best of natural wine is most definitely a wonderful and welcome movement, but it’s also a trend to be generous, and a fad if we’re being honest. Many natural wine purists don’t differentiate between good/tasty/balanced natural wine and brutally acidic, unstable, undrinkable crap that happens to fit the criteria. Natural does not mean good, and never will, just as literally will never mean figuratively, no matter how many language shredding Philistines use the terms interchangeably.

Marketeers continue to confuse people for their own obvious ends. More often than I’d like, I’m faced with a customer demanding sulfite-free wine. When I gently (sometimes not so gently) explain that the process by which yeast turns sugar to alcohol also creates sulfites (naturally!), they often look at me as if I’ve just told them, “Your god is dead.” One customer simply told me, “That’s not true”. Since nothing good happens at the intersection of ignorance and certainty, I suggested that she shop somewhere that doesn’t mind lying to her, to preserve her fragile false reality, in order to make a sale.

Is organic farming and biodiveristy in soil a good thing for wine and for the earth? Yes, absolutely. But farming and winemaking are very different endeavors, and both are required to get fermented juice into a bottle. And there are many wines that are organic and/or natural that just plain suck. A shocking percentage of walk-in cold calls to my Brooklyn retail shop are by reps spouting off about how natural and organic their wines are. Which immediately begs the question: Are they any good?

To open a natural wine exclusive shop, bar, or restaurant, and leave wine off the list because of a pinch of SO2 seems to miss the point. There’s a huge difference between adding a little tartaric acid, deliberately manipulating the amount of water during vinification, or using a small amount of egg white to clarify (sorry [not sorry] vegans!), and straight up dumping flavor changing additives into an otherwise finished wine. There are many many wines that aren’t 100% natural, but are doing things mostly right, aren’t raping the Earth with chemicals, and are producing accessible, pleasurable wines.

There will always be purists, and I will always feel sorry for them and their dainty palates. If you ONLY drink Burgundy, or Italian wine, or natural wine, you’re just missing out on piles of pleasure by drawing hard lines where they might not need to be. It’s just as vexing as those who only drink un-oaked Chardonnay and insist that any wood is poison to that venerable varietal, when convincingly enjoyable wines exists on either side of that arbitrary fence. And the very best examples often display some creaminess, but without buttering over the fruit, and maintaining vibrant acidity. I would call it balance, but that term too has had a big steamy pile of dogma dumped on it by those seeking to define (and control) a categorized commodity.

Most wine consumers I encounter- the vast majority of customers at our fair shop- just want to drink something that tastes good and doesn’t have chemical crap dumped into it. Luckily for them, we feel that way too, and have lots of love for everything ignored by Bosker’s ill-conceived two treatises of wine. Beyond that noise, don’t ever believe anyone who tells you there’s only one way to make or enjoy great wine. And if you really want to drink a bunch of syrupy chemical crap, just go have a Coke and a smile, but don’t bother writing an article about how good you think it is.