The best wine shop in Ireland? Redmonds of Ranelagh, according to Noffla, which annually awards the title to its very best members. The National Off Licence Association Awards are based on a range of criteria, heavily weighted towards range and wine knowledge, and independently judged.
When buying wine, especially for an occasion, there is no single rule of thumb. The choice of producers, grape varieties, styles often seem like an obstacle course, particularly when it comes to Old World wines, whose labelling tends not to be very helpful.
This is where speciality wine shops have a distinct advantage over other non-specialist wine retailers. The person serving you in a specialist shop is usually familiar with the wine, and will have enough wine knowledge and skill to match your preferences with one of many wines on offer. It’s not a coincidence that all Noffla winners have been educated through WSET wine courses.
From a price perspective, wine specialists are conscious of competition, and offer a wide range of price points. Trying to over-sell expensive bottles is not in their interest. Unlike non-specialists, they rely on repeat wine sales, and will therefore try harder to make a good impression and ensure your return.
When giving advice on how to buy wine at my one-day wine courses, the biggest tip I have is to find a good local wine shop, and develop a relationship there, so that they understand your taste & budget. Being able to articulate your preferences helps too, which is where wine courses are useful.
Other regional and specialist winners of Noffla awards, worth seeking out, include:
- McHugh’s Off-Licences, Malahide Road – who also stock a great range of speciality beers and have a wine club.
- Gibneys Off-Licence, Malahide – superb advice, wine gifts, champagne specialists.
- Jus de Vine – previously described by me as the Harrod’s of Portmarnock!
- Next Door at Sundrive Road, Dublin 12, with a wealth of knowledge.
- Martin’s Off Licence, Fairview
Outside Dublin, O’Donovans (Cork), Hollands (Bray), The Wine Centre (Kilkenny), McCambridge’s Galway, Cope’s (Kildare) are all award-winners.
Previous Dublin wine shop winners include The Vintry (Rathgar), Deveneys (Dundrum), Shiel’s Londis (Malahide), Sweeneys (Finglas Road), Next Door (Swiss Cottage), Donnybrook Fair.
In addition to Noffla winners, there are numerous other wine shops which don’t compete for awards, but are a joy to shop in. Take a closer look in your area and prepare yourself to discover some amazing wines, and enjoy the experience.