What’s the Best Liquor/Wine Store in Town?


I know there are lots of fans of D’Vines on 14th Street in Columbia Heights. My Capitol Hill friends swear by Schneider’s of Capitol Hill. And I remember back in the day when I lived in Cleveland Park that Calvert Woodley Liquor on Connecticut Ave. in Van Ness was highly recommended. So if you know nothing about wine where can you find the best selection/prices in town?

48 Comment

  • I have to say I really dont like Schneiders. Every recommendation they have ever given me was pretty bad, both for wines and for liquors. Also, they really focus on $25 and up wines. Which may be great for occasional wine drinking, but if you crack open a bottle several times a week for dinner, its just really untenable.

    My favorite for a wine store is, surprisingly, Littieri’s. Not only do they have the best italian selection I have found, they have nice wines in the 10-15 dollar range. If they are clearing out older stock, you can get $4-8 wines that are very drinkable. They do have a somewhat limited selection, you wont find many french, or german wines there, nor most of the bigger bottlers out of california.

  • trader joe’s, duh!

  • Another good place for wine is Rodmans. Hell Rodmans is good for lots of stuff.

  • Playing off the Cleveland Park thing, I was always a fan of Cleveland Park Liquor. Strong beer and wine selections, lots of random free sampling, and friendly, helpful wine guys that don’t come across as judgmental.

  • This is a really hard question for me to answer, because there are so many good ones in DC. In spite of all the valid complaints about other businesses around here, liquor/beverage stores are something that this town gets right.

    Chevy Chase Wine is great for the shear variety of beers, but places like Rodman’s on Wisconsin Avenue have a better-curated selection. I like Burka’s on Wisconsin for their prices (always finding good stuff on sale there) and the liquor store in Cleveland Park across from the 4P’s is pretty good all around.

  • Simply for the experience, Cavalier Liquors on 14th St is a hilarious visit.

    Thick bulletproff glass and bottles of liquor so old they need to wipe off the dust before they literally slide it down the counter to you.

  • Chat’s in Barracks Row has a surprisingly good selection for a very small place, and reasonably priced

  • +1 on Trader Joe’s. Great wine for the cheapo in me: <$10.

  • Plain old Pearsons?

  • +1 to Burka’s – one of my favorite trips during my time at American University. Always a rotating selection of beers, wine tasting, and they ALWAYS gave away paraphenalia (etched glasses, keychains, etc.)

    Great place for sure!

    • Unfortunately the etched glasses and keychains are generally for sale instead of given away these days, but the place is otherwise still pretty awesome.

  • I like the simplicity of Best Cellars in Dupont. They charge maybe a $1-2 more than other places but it is worth it for the ease and knowledge they provide. Also lots of samplings.

  • You want good price on gin and other mid-grade spirits, and a fantastic selection of micros (where you can mix-match a 6-pack, or purchase a case of High Life for 10.99), go to Chevy Chase Wine and Spirits near Chevy Chase Cir, on Conn next to the CVS. Remember that they close at 8:55 on weekdays and 9:55 on Friday/Saturday, not a minute later!

    Calvert is a ‘best overall pick’ for those who don’t want to think about it.

    Agree with the Chat’s statement. The management is awesome there. You can ask them anything, and they’ll recommend great picks and compliments. Bernie is da’ man!

  • Modern Liquors on 9th/M

  • terry at schneiders has never steered me wrong.
    i also like chevy chase liquors.
    and timor bodega ( albeit a very small section)

    but my wife hits this:

  • The new Cork wine market has exceeded my expectations by a wide margin. I expected overpriced and trendy. Their staff has varying degrees of competence and knowledge and (gasp) they admit it, get help, and try very hard to help customers get what they want. The prices are comparable or better than other DC wine shops (my best comparisons are Cleveland Park, D’Vines at 18th and Florida, and Macarthur). Better yet, they are open late, like 8 or 9 during the week, which, if you work late, is a godsend. They shop is small, but they are new and expanding. I would wholeheartedly recommend people giving it a chance.

  • Big believer in Schneiders. I’m not a wine snob/expert, but they’ve never steered me wrong, even when I ask for a “great bottle of ___ under $10/15, etc.”

    Plus, they have a great liquor selection. They know their bourbons and I’ve found a number of gems based on their recommendations. Plus, prices are fantastic. Can’t praise them enough.

  • I’m another Schneiders regular. It can be too crowded and overwhelming on weekends, but during the day on a weekday, I’ve wandered in and had personal bourbon tastings in the back. And, if they’re not stocking things that you’re looking for, they’ll often start to if you ask.

    I also like P&C Market for wine, and whoever said Chat’s is correct – they’ve got a good selection if I’m on that side of the Hill.

    Across town, I like Dean & DeLuca for wine.

    In Old Town, Grape + Bean and Au Domaine are fantastic wine stores.

  • Timor!

  • When if comes to liquor stores, I’m a fan of Calvert Woodley because of their selection and prices. But warning, if you don’t know what you are doing when buying liquor, don’t listen to the bald guy who hangs out around the whiskey/vodka section, he’s always pushing the cheap rot-gut stuff. That stuff must have the best profit margins. As for wines, there are lots of good shops around.

  • Ace Beverage over on New Mexico Avenue, just south of AU, always has some really interesting, hard-to-find wines and liquors. They have an especially nice selection of unusual bourbons.

  • +1 Cork wine market. The wine selection and prices are great. However, what surprised me the most was their tasty selection of prepared sandwiches.

  • jburka

    +1 to Ace. They always have what I’m looking for, even when it’s something relatively off the beaten path like aguardiente, a Colombian spirit.

    Also nice to see there’s still a bit of love for Burka’s, even if it’s been out of the family for over 40 years…

  • Petworth Liquors – duh!

  • It must be a wine-crowd thing, thus I don’t understand:

    When I’m shopping for spirited liquids, I don’t need a goddamned therapist to midwife me through the process, just a decent soul that stocks good stuff.

    Thus, I support Schneiders if I’m down there, otherwise Jeff runs an excellent shop at Modern Liquors (M street by the convention ctr) and he will have my business as long as I’m thirsty. I have spoken.

  • Addy Bassin’s MacArthur Beverages in Palisades has a great selection of Italian wines (if a bit pricier than Literi’s.)

  • Never been a big fan of Calvert Woodley, mostly because their pathetic beer selection is a slap in the face to the modern era. If they weren’t in the blue-hair enclave, their business would suffer.

    Keeping it local, it’s worth noting that the new Yes! Organic Market on Georgia Ave is doing a GREAT job on beer and wine. I’m much more knowledgeable about beer than wine, but both have a lot of real estate in the store and in both cases they have a wide variety. With beer, they get really local, with a number of VA/MD/PA/DE beers. Very impressive.

    With wine, Yes’s seletion trends towards cheaper bottles, but still has some good values.

  • CW for wine, liquor, and coffee (get the chocolate colombian, you will thank me even if it’s not on sale), and don’t forget the coupons on the back of Harris Teeter receipts. Gotta go on weeknights, though, weekends the store is full of people who are used to having 3000 sq ft to themselves and get bitey in tight spaces plus lots of spouses who are just along for the ride taking up space in the wine section. I forget where the bagels come from but they suck. But their prices are amazing, their wine section is well curated, and with liquor they have the right balance of good selection without having to wade through miles of chocolate-raspberry tequilas and ridiculous scotches. Their beer selection isn’t so hot but whatever, the beer revolution is over, you can get something good everywhere now. Not having to listen to some jackass whose other main interest is world of warcraft blather about the differences between ’07 and ’08 Dark Lord is a key feature of a liquor store as far as I’m concerned.

  • Schneider’s beer selection is weak.

  • CC’S Liquor! Give columbia heights locals some love!

  • Conn. Ave. Liquor and Deli on Q and Conn. Ave. has the best selection of vodkas I’ve found after searching far and wide. Rodman’s for wine and beer is great and reasonably priced.

  • Chevy Chase circle area has lots of good options including Magruders. Calvert Woodley is worth a mention and as mention by a previous poster, Yes Organic on Georgia is doing a damn good job w/ beer and wine.

    In terms of kegs, I’ve found my best deals at Tenley Mini-mart, but it really is a case by case matter.

  • Schneider’s is awesome for the hard to find stuff that really rounds out a bar: luxardo, chartreuse, half dozen different bitters, orgeat syrup, etc. If you like the spirits column in the WashPost, you’ll find whatever Jason Wilson recommends at this place.

  • agree with Eric, Litteri’s is the best selection for the price anywhere in DC. Rodman’s is my second favorite in the city. For some good Lebanese and Adriatic wines not available anywhere else, Lebanese Taverna in Arlington, and the Eastern European market at Huntington.

  • I absolutely love Schneiders, and have never had one bad, or even less-than-awesome experience with them. Rodman’s is just one of the best stores in the entire city. I got to give some love to CC’s: Mr. Kim has always been the kindest and most willing-to-help of any store clerk I’ve come across in this city, especially the past five years I’ve lived in Columbia Heights.

    Oh, and props to Tick-Tock Liquors out in PGC: Where you can go to get a new keg at 12:00am. Even on Thanksgiving.

  • Someone should write a guide to beverage shops in the District. There are so many good ones, and many of them are especially good at one particular thing or another.

  • Calvert Woodley and Trader Joe’s for under $10 wines, Calvert Woodley for spirits, and Mills in Annapolis when I feel like splurging a bit or buying on a Sunday (they’ve got a preferred customer program that saves a ton o’ cash, and they can put together a mixed case like nobody’s business…plus the Sunday thing means I can combine brunch in downtown Annapolis with some wine shopping).

    Schneider’s is okay, but I’ve had some off wine recommendations from them in the past. That said, if I lived closer to it, I’m sure I’d swear by the place.

  • Agreed about the many good liquor stores in DC. I have had great success at Calvert Woodley, Chevy Chase Liquors, Rodman’s, etc. I recently tried this place: http://www.firstvine.com/

    They deliver to your door. I got a “six pack” of their choice of wines and most were really good.

  • All of their locations are pretty far away from the District, but most Wegman’s stores have wine departments that are far better than pretty much anything in the city. It’s worth the drive once in a while.

  • Definitely second Modern Liquors. Jeff is simply amazing – he’s recommended some awesome stuff, and he doesn’t just push the expensive bottles on you. Plus the wine/whiskey/etc tastings are always good 🙂

  • I like Good Ol’ Reliable on Rhode Island Avenue. Every time I venture in there, they have a liquor tasting event. Most recently, I was given 3 shots of Crown Royal – delicious.

    I also mess with Corridor Wines & Spirits in Laurel.

    Calvert Woodley is okay, but i feel like i’m being watched every time i go in. There’s always 30 people asking if they can help me. I’m coming to a liquor store to buy liquor, I know what I want – i don’t need your help.

    Honorable Mention: Cairo Liquors on like 17th & R. Always friendly staff.

    (there a post not talking about gentrification or how i, as a native dc resident, do not enjoy the transients). Lets hope PoP isn’t racist this time and actually doesn’t delete my post, as you do, ALWAYS.

  • I’m also a fan of Schneider’s, but it depends on the consultant. Terry is great. But there’s a young guy I try to avoid. He doesn’t seem to understand the definition of “dry.” Any wine he recommends is too cloying for my taste.

    Litteri’s is awesome for Italian wine. You could practically close your eyes, pick a random bottle and you’ll be satisfied.

  • Cairo, yes.
    Or South Dakota Liquors.

  • I like Good Libations, a small store but the owner is cool and if he doesn’t have something he will stock it for you. A real neighborhood store.

  • barrel liquors at 14th and RI ave has a great selection and prices. they definitely get my vote.

  • Schneiders is my favorite. Owner Jon Gunderson is an expert on red wine and a nice guy as well. Their Australian wine selection is excellent.

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