Imagine a supermarket filled with wine, plus gin, bourbon and hundreds of other spirits. Then envision an entire quadrant of that store — say, equal to a large produce section — given over to New York wine and spirits.
That gives you an idea of the scope of Total Wine Spirits & More, which opened in Westbury on Nov. 9 inside the former Sports Authority and is now Long Island’s largest wine store, as well as the state’s only Total Wine. (This sprawling chain, owned by David Trone, is to have 170 stores around the country by the end of the year.)
The 26,000-square-foot store is filled with 11,000 brands of vino, broken into Old and New World sections and then organized alphabetically by varietal. There are two tasting bars that pour wine and spirits daily, and one of those bars is inside a mammoth area stocked with 1,200 New York State-produced wines — many of those from Long Island — and 400 spirits.
Wandering Total Wine’s aisles feels like an anthropological romp through drink. There’s a wall of Bordeaux, and a sizable sherry section; an aisle of sparkling wines; multiple kinds of absinthe and mezcal; several shelves devoted to sake, but only one high shelf given to Virginia wines (two of those are from Trump Winery).
A first visit can be disorienting. Here are some navigational tips:
1. Watch your step. There is scant out-of-view storage space at Total Wine, so stocking is a constant process and you will be dodging and reaching around moving stairs and carts in almost every aisle, at least at midday.
2. Ask for help, but don’t get too wine-geeky. The floor is filled with a veritable army of sales staff, clad in white shirts, and they will ask you frequently if you need help. Don’t fritter away time looking for culty bottles such as natural or orange wine, however. Total Wine is strong when it comes to value-driven wines in the $12 to $25 category, though you can also splurge on things like Barolo and grower Champagne. If you’re in the mood for a Cabernet Franc from the Loire, though, or a bottle from a so-called new California producer such as Broc Cellars, your choices are comparatively slim.
3. The place to get adventurous is the New York section. Pét-Nats from the Finger Lakes, Seyval Blanc from the Hudson Valley, barrel-aged gins — the New York section cinches together the largest selection of New York wine and spirits you may ever see in one place. Long Island wines take up an entire wall.
4. To save, buy in bulk. You get a 10 percent discount for mixing-and-matching six bottles (for this deal, look for prices that end in 9, rather than 7), so it’s worth maximizing your visit.
5. Don’t miss the small-batch bourbon section. Total Wine seems to love brown spirits, and its collection of small-batch bourbons (such as a Redemption Barrel Proof High Rye 9-year-old bourbon) is as striking as the nearby array of Scotch.
6. You can go pretty luxe, if you wish. On one side of Total Wine is a climate-controlled case of fine wines, many of them Napa Cabs, Bordeaux or Burgundies, such as a 2014 Domaine Faiveley Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Les Ouvrées Rodin for a breezy $823.99. Crave a magnum of 2009 Roederer Cristal Rosé for New Year’s? It will set you back $1,303.99; you’ll cough up three G’s for a bottle of Rémy Martin Louis XIII Cognac.
7. If you’re that high a roller, ask to see the fine-wine room. It holds many of the same wines that you see in the fine-wine case, but there is an elegant little tasting bar in the middle.
8. “Just give me a cold one.” If this is your motto, walk next door to the New York Marketplace and Brewery District, which is given over to thousands of mega-brewed and craft beers — including 2,000 from New York State and featuring Long Island breweries such as Spider Bite Beer Co. — and snacky food items such as cheese, chips and jam. The space has a vibe somewhere between a beer distributor and a craft-beer shop, and is airier and less busy than its neighbor. It’s also owned by Trone, but New York State law dictates that beer and wine are sold separately — hence the glass partition between the two stores. There is also a cigar humidor here, to go with the Louis XIII you picked up next door.
Total Wine Spirits & More and New York Marketplace and Brewery District
WHERE: 1230 Old Country Rd., Westbury
HOURS: Both stores are open daily 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
MORE INFO: 516-357-0090, totalwine.com