By Lettie Teague

Wine Words Worth Toasting

Do good salesmen make good writers? Or do the two talents exist at separate poles? After reading more than 20 websites of wine merchants from all over Greater New York, I found a few salesmen who in addition to knowing how to choose a fine bottle of wine can craft a good sentence or two.

Their prose promises a bit more than "Good Deals! Best Buys!" and "Multiple Case Discounts!" These merchants tell stories of wine producers and wine regions, weather conditions and even an occasional political lesson. They're selling wine, to be sure, but they want to educate their customers too.

Chambers Street Wine Merchants, Manhattan

The website of this 11-year-old TriBeCa wine shop is dense with words—and the typeface is quite small (all the better to squeeze in more words). The writing is serious, even a touch scholarly, which isn't surprising considering there's more than one former academic on staff (see under: staff bios). According to proprietor David Lillie, the store's resident expert on the Loire, the Rhone and Beaujolais, the members of his staff all take turns penning articles on the wines and regions within their realms of expertise. "We have a number of good writers on staff with their own voices," Mr. Lillie wrote in an email.

The Chambers Street Wine Merchants website.

Chambers Street focuses on organic, biodynamic and natural wines, and if casual browsers haven't heard of many of the selections, they can be excused—or, better yet, educated. Take, for example, a recent article on the "Revolution in Baden." (Yes, there are "featured articles" on the Chambers Street website.) Many wine drinkers probably don't even know where Baden is or why a revolution would need to take place. The article is actually a profile of two ambitious young winemakers, Enderle and Moll, who are making interesting-sounding Pinot Noirs (aka Spatburgunder) in a natural style. And at $38.99 a bottle, their Pinot might be something that bargain Burgundy drinkers will want to try.

Big Nose Full Body, Brooklyn

For wine drinkers who may want to brush up on their knowledge of world history, the website of Big Nose Full Body (yes, that's the name of the store) offers a snapshot of past and current economic conditions in Spain, the featured wine country this month. I learned a few things that I didn't know I'd forgotten about the country (i.e., the last year that Generalissimo Franco was in power was 1975) along with a few interesting wine facts (i.e., Muscat can be described as a "bulbous" grape).


The website of Big Nose Full Body.

Dry Muscat is one of the featured wines tied to the site's small Spain dissertation—and as its author, Thomas Methans, pointed out, it's a grape that's hard to get right, at least as a dry wine. (It can be difficult to keep the sugars in check.) There are featured wines for sale, of course, including a dry Muscat (2009 Botani Moscato Secco) as well as a few interesting-sounding Spanish whites, such as Txakoli, the trendy white Basque wine, and a cheap white Rioja (2011 El Coto at $10) that I'd be willing to try—though as Mr. Methans correctly observed, it's a wine category that most people don't care much about.

A side note about the Big Nose site: Mr. Methans, who has a master's in library science, is a part-time employee of Big Nose Full Body and also writes a newsletter for SIP Fine Wine, another Brooklyn store.

Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine, Darien, Conn.

The Nicholas Roberts Fine Wine website.

Managing director Peter Trolio is one of several Trolios running this suburban Connecticut store (whose tagline, "Enriching Lives through Food and Wine," promises a lot more than just a good deal). He is also the Trolio who is the writer and who keeps a blog. In his latest blog posting, Mr. Trolio lamented the weather conditions in Burgundy and Champagne (many bad days, as is often the case in these northerly French wine regions). He also exclaimed enthusiastically over some wines from Canada—some challenging Pinot Noir and some pretty good Chardonnay. (Both are sold at the store.)

"It's easy to sell wines from California and Burgundy, but not so easy to sell wine from Canada," said Mr. Trolio during a phone call. But he nevertheless says he's confident that Canadian wines may be ready to "explode."

When I observed to Mr. Trolio that his postings were a bit old (both notes were written last month), he explained that his life had been particularly busy of late. "My wife and I had our third child a few weeks ago," he said. "I've been pulling triple duty: taking care of my wife, our children and the store. Sometimes life gets in the way of trying to be a writer."

Write to Lettie Teague at [email protected]

A version of this article appeared August 31, 2012, on page A18 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Wine Words Worth Toasting.

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