Specializing in hard-to-find wines from small vintners out of California, Germany, Italy and mainly France, Thirst Wine Merchants is a carefully curated wine shop. Located in the historic Fort Greene neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, they also carry a small collection of elusive whiskeys, bitters and other hard liquors.
With a welcoming environment, there's none of the attitude, snobbery or intimidation at Thirst that unfortunately accompanies most fine wine establishments. In fact, an absence of tags and wine ratings encourages visitors to converse and ask for recommendations. Owners Michael Yarmark and Emilia Valencia are extremely knowledgeable and always seem to know exactly what I'm in the mood for. In fact, they hand-select every wine in the shop. Take the Louis De Grenelle Saumur Rose Brut NV made from 100% Cabernet Franc and sold for $18. "A dry rich and transporting wine," notes Yarmarck, "like champagne, this wine undergoes it's secondary fermentation in the bottle."
The shop also has an amazing selection of Beaujolais. Come this 15 November—the same day the French can legally drink new wine— they will be selling Dupeuble's Beaujolais Nouveau. Unlike other feeble, sterile or cold-stabilized quasi-Nouveaus, this one's made from grapes that were hand-harvested at peak ripeness. "This is the honest-to-goodness, real-deal Beaujuloais Nouveau", at only $13.
Knowing that most don't pay as close attention to wine as they do, one of the best features of this little local wine shop is that you can store your purchasing history in their system for when you don't remember the name of the last wine you loved or simply to document what you've tried.
A well-designed interior houses all the great wines. Thirst commissioned fellow Brooklynites and design firm previously featured on Cool Hunting, 4 Pli, to collaborate and design the interior. I like the curvy wine racks and rock counter top which has a carved-out indentation for loose coins or business cards (below). Materials are eco-friendly and strategically placed in the triangular space. A mirror cut to resemble a vineyard (above left) placed on the back wall tastefully elongates the space and a display case of corks (above right) from Yarmark and Valencia's favorite wines greet visitors at the door.
Most Saturdays, Thirst hosts a wine tasting and because it's hard to find their wines elsewhere, they deliver for free to Brooklyn and Manhattan. Make sure to stop by if you're ever in the area.