You won’t be disappointed in the wine selection across the river!
I moved from Manhattan to Jersey City in the middle of the pandemic, so wine bars and shops were not really top of mind. When the world started to open back up again, though, everyone kept asking me, “Where do you love to buy wine in Jersey City? Where’s your favorite wine bar to grab a glass? What’s your local favorite wine shop?”
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have an answer at first because I’d never explored! But after a few months of research, I thought I’d share my favorites. I love going to all these places for a bottle – plus there’s always all kinds of educational tastings. You might even find a few of them are worth crossing the river for yourself.
If a French place wasn’t at the top of the list, I just wouldn’t be myself. (At least I’m consistent, right?) Madame Claude’s is everything. No really – it’s both a wine shop and a wine bar. While they’re two separate properties (the later being Madame Claude Bis, a few blocks from the shop), one thing is common between them: the best French wine selection this side of Manhattan. What I love about the shop is that it has a small yet curated rotating selection of some really high quality French wines, but nothing in the shop is a “big name” producer. Every time I go in there, I discover something new (like that time I bought André Kientzler’s Osterberg Grand Cru kind of on accident… my favorite Alsatian wine to date!). It’s cute, staffed by a great group of wine lovers, and located by Hamilton Park, where we’re always walking Niles on the weekends. I kind of want to work there.
CoolVines is a New Jersey institution, and from the second you walk in, it’s easy to see why. This wine shop is probably one of the cooler ones I’ve been into, with a huge selection of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, plus craft beers, cheeses, snacks, and a few liquors. The staff are effortlessly trendy and could talk your ear off (in the best way!) about the producers and styles they represent. It’s a wine nerd paradise. Plus, if you’re not based in Jersey City, they also have a Hoboken and Newark location so you don’t have to drive all the way downtown!
Every town needs an “everything but the kitchen sink” type wine store and Jersey Wine & Spirits is Jersey City’s answer to that. This store is packed to the gills with all kinds of beer, wine, spirits, mixers, and accessories. The French wine selection is fantastic: it ranges from the more well known brands – like Whispering Angel and Joseph Drouhin – to some of my favorite grower Champagnes like Vilmart & Cie, plus the smaller, more off-the-beaten-track types. They also have a great selection of beer and liquors to explore, too!
BONUS: Van Hook Cheese & Grocery
Wondering where I get all those fabulous French cheeses close to home to pair with my favorite French wines? Van Hook’s is it! I truly love this little shop. They have a great selection of all kinds of cheeses – both local and imported – and also sell charcuterie, jams, crackers, and little plates and dishes for all your board dreams. The cheesemongers on staff are all really sweet and can chat with you about wine and cheese pairings for days! They have a location in Montclair as well in case you’re a bit farther out from downtown.
On a lovely Saturday afternoon, you’ll probably find me at one of these spots to peruse. New Yorkers, I think you’ll be surprised at what Jersey City can offer the wine world! If you’ve been to one of these lovely local businesses, drop me your favorite one in comments below! And don’t forget to shop local for the holiday season this year to support all our great local New Jersey businesses. Santé!