Friday, April 07, 2006

Christopher's Fine Wines on West Gray: I don't get it.

What is with this place (formerly known as "Christopher's Wine Warehouse")? Is its motto "Why Pay Less?" Sheesh. I get their newsletter in the mail, and there's no doubt they stock some interesting wines, but their business model seems to be: focus solely on wines generally unavailable elsewhere in the city, and then charge almost restaurant magnitude mark-ups. Between the many Spec's and Richard's locations alone (putting aside other places like Whole Foods on Bellaire and Copperfield's), there simply is no reason except precious pomposity to go to a place like this.

Coming up soon, I will bite the bullet and go rub shoulders with the swells from River Oaks to see what Central Market is doing these days with their wine selection. I was last there about a year ago (I really don't like the crowd there--too many Jags, Range Rovers, and surgically altered bodies), and from what I recall they had a very good selection with generally high prices. I'm interested to see if that's still the case.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Christopher actually does most of his business via e-mail and then you go to the "store" to pick it up, so the retail is more of a hobby -- thus the high prices.

winniewino said...

Christopher's does serve a different market with his email business, but the markups are still too high in my opinion. What is your take on the pricing and client service at Houston Wine Merchant versus Spec's downtown?

Anonymous said...

I read at Alison Cook's blog that Christopher's has taken on some partners, so I went by a few days ago to check out the new structuring that Alison praised. All I can say is wow, what a difference. The prices are lower than anything I can find on wine-searcher and the selection is as unique as ever. I guess the new partners must have injected some serious cash into the thing because I've never seen such awesome pricing on wines in Christopher's since it opened back in the village. I got back on the email list too and have ordered a couple of mixed 6-packs. I think you should re-think your notes here as the new pricing is not at all as you make it seem with this blog report.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised, too, by the words of the author of this blog...I discovered this wine shop on-line and the prices can not be beat...the shop actually shows winesearcher.com in each wine they offer on-line...after researching three wines I had interest in, the prices were the best on the web...perhaps the author of this blog has an ax to grind but your information is way out of line...
P. Seymour

Tom Casagrande said...

UPDATE (5/08): I went back again recently, went up and down the few aisles, and still saw virtually nothing under $20 or anything else that looked like a good value. Christopher's may in fact get great, hard-to-get estates from Burgundy and the Rhone, etc. But I'm generally not about finding the only source of Domaine X in Texas at any cost. I'm looking primarily for pleasure & value, and that's obviously not Christophers' main focus. Just because it does its own thing well doesn't necessarily mean it does what I want well. And conversely, just because it doesn't suit my criteria for an ideal wine store doesn't mean it's not a good wine store. If you like Christopher's retail model, by all means go for it. It's just not my cup of Zin.