After last week’s post – Dear New Wine Drinker – I realized that I should give my Charleston reader’s information about the independent wine retailers where I shop. These are the places where I buy wine for Gary and me and my concierge clients and some wine tastings. There are times I visit two or three of them on a single wine buying trip because they all offer something that the other does not. To categorize, I would say that my primary stores are The Wine Shop of Charleston and Edmund’s Oast Exchange. These two stores work hard at relationship building and are where I will also go to place a special order. Bottles Superstore is where I go when I need a broader selection of wines in the $25.00 and under price range. Finally, Monarch Wine Merchant is for French exclusives.
Note: This post will become a permanent page on this site for long-term referencing. As I add to my list of wine retailers the page will be updated. In order to be included on this list, wine must be a primary focus.
Independent Wine Retailers of Charleston – Primary
The Wine Shop of Charleston
This wine shop has been around for 25 years, but new owners took over in 2020. So while it continues to have a similar inventory, the vibe is calm, and the staff is always helpful. This store has a broad selection of French wines from various regions throughout France. You will also find a well-curated selection of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Pinot Noir from the US. Smaller sections from Italy, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Chile, and Germany. In addition to the “sections” above, there are also “the stacks.” This area is at the front of the store with boxes of modestly priced crowd-pleasers. This selection changes more frequently than the rest of the store based on the opportunities offered by the distributors.
Case (12 bottles mixed or same) discounts of 10% apply to purchases. And wine tastings occur every Wednesday at the bar in the back of the store.
The Wine Shop of Charleston
3 Lockwood Dr #202 A · In Safe Harbor Charleston City
(843) 577-3881 * Open Mon-Sat 10 am – 7 pm
Edmund’s Oast Exchange – Primary
To find the wine, you need to head up the stairs to the second floor. While there is no elevator, the staff will help you carry your selections down the stairs. EOX is about 60% Old World (primarily French and Italian, then Spain, lesser so Portugal then German and Austrian. While not a huge selection, if you like German wines, this is your store. While small in the number of bottles, it is very well diversified. The remaining 40% is New World – primarily domestic. With a broad selection of wines from both California and Oregon.
Their focus is fine wine sold through the smaller independent distributors that service South Carolina. These distributors tend to have more curated wine selections from family-run wineries around the world. So quality abounds in a variety of price points. But what this also means is that amount of wine available for sale by the distributor is limited, and when the vintage sells out, it can be months or even the next vintage before you see it again. So I suggest, when you find a wine you love – stock up. If you are looking for an exceptional bottle, they have a separate room of high-end, exclusive, and hard-to-find wines. I like to browse through the racks to see what the 1% of the 1% drink.
This store has a very aggressive discount program. For example, when you buy three (3) bottles, you get a 5% discount, six (6) bottles a 10% discount, and twelve (12+) or more, you get a 15% discount. And anyone working in the Food and Beverage industry always gets 15% regardless of the number of bottles purchased.
The thing that truly sets this store apart is its staff, helmed by Sommelier Sarah O’Kelly. When shopping there, I drift to Sarah or Collin to assist me because we have built a close relationship developed over time. But everyone there is quite knowledgeable and super down to earth. This staff works hard to make you feel at home.
Edmund’s Oast Exchange
1081-B, Morrison Dr, Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 990-9449 * Open Mon-Sat 11am – 8pm and Sun 12nn – 5pm
Independent Wine Retailers of Charleston – Under $25 Broad Selection
While Bottles is a superstore and has three locations in South Carolina, it still belongs on this list. Why? Because of their selection (well, most of it anyway). This store has no particular focus other than a large selection and something for everyone. Additionally, because of their buying power, that can also mean the lowest price.
This large superstore’s bottom shelves are filled with industrially produced corporate brands that you will find in most grocery stores. So look up, folks; these wines are not for you. But it also has several positives that keep me going back. First is the breadth and depth of wines from California and Oregon on which most smaller stores in the area do not place much attention. Additionally, they shine when it comes to the most extensive selection of great QPR (quality to price ratio) wine in the value price range of $12.00 to $20.00 for white wines and $18.00 to $27.00 for red wines. They also have one of the most extensive rosé selections in town.
They do offer twelve (12+) or more bottle 10% discount. As well as a rewards club that accumulates 1 point that is equal to a penny for every dollar spent that is redeemable once you hit 500 points or $5.00.
The staff is friendly, helpful, and adequately knowledgeable.
Bottles Beverage Superstore – Mt. Pleasant
610 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464 (In Moultrie Plaza Shopping Center)
(843) 849-9463 * Open Mon-Sat 9am – 9pm and Sun 11am – 6pm
Bottles Beverage Superstore – Summerville
1110 N Main St, Summerville, SC 29483 * (843) 875-6666
Open Mon-Sat 9am – 9pm and Sun 11am – 6pm
Monarch Wine Merchants
According to the store management, the focus is selling “natural” wine. I hate the term “natural” because of its overuse, incorrect use, and misuse, making the term basically meaningless. I would classify the store as organic and biodynamic wine from France, including a substantial Champagne and French Sparkling wine section. Wines from all other wine-producing countries are extremely limited. So you shop here if you are an organic French wine enthusiast. You will find some excellent wines that others probably don’t carry. This is a specialty store that definitely has its place in the Charleston market.
They also have a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), aka monthly wine club. They select three bottles of wine – “a mix of red, white, rose, sparkling, etc. – always seasonally appropriate and always an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone!” You also get in-depth information on each of the three bottles and can pick up your wines at the “CSA Pick-Up Party,” the first Wednesday of every month or any time that month.
There is an air/vibe of exclusivity in this store. Think – you will pay more, but we are worth it. And depending on your wine preferences, it may be. However, this is not a store for a new wine drinker looking for a broad swath of various wine styles, regions, and price points. The last few times I was there, Salena was on staff. She is always very knowledgeable, kind, and helpful. For Justin Coleman, the store owner, Monarch is his dream store and his baby.
Note: They offer no discounts.
Monarch Wine Merchants
1107 King St Suite B, Charleston, SC 29403 * (843) 576-4845
* Open Mon-Sat 11am – 8pm and Sun 12nn – 5pm
Lastly, I have heard great things about Graft Wine Shop. I have not been but folks I respect think it’s a great store. I’ll have to check it out.
That does it for today,
Rick & Gary