The Joys of Small Package Shops

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

This weekend I stopped at a new package store (as the liquor stores are called here in Connecticut). While there is a very large package store quite close to my house, I’ve discovered that there’s great fun to be had in taking the time to scout out the smaller stores in different towns. It’s always an adventure to discover which wines each store carries. They all carry the “standards”: the Lindemans, Woodbridges, Gallos, etc. And every so often you stumble across a deal on a Chateau St. Michelle or a Santa Margharita – something never to be sneezed at.

But Nutmeggers (as CT folks are called) are sophisticated people, and even in the smallest package stores in the smallest towns, you’ll find an interesting selection of wines. Because the stores are smaller, they can be easier to browse – and because they aren’t trying to carry everything, you often stumble across wines you’d overlook in the larger stores.

This past weekend, I stopped at The Cordial Shoppe in Canaan, CT. They have a nice collection of wines, with wines from South Africa being prominently featured in one of the front aisles. I wound up buying several wines that I had either not noticed before, or had been meaning to try, one of which being the 2006 Oracle Shiraz.

This Shiraz lives up to its reputation – it is silky smooth, full-bodied, with a nice balance of fruit (raspberry, I think) and smokiness. The tannins are subtle and it lingers in your mouth. I paired it with chicken last night, which was o.k., but I imagine it will be much better paired with beef or lamb. It’s reasonably priced (under $15 US) and eminently drinkable all year long.

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