2006_05_food_iswine.jpgWalking down 8th street in Greenwich Village you’ll find some of the most random collection of stores all snuggled together. From Ricky’s, Johnny Rockets and Otto to the eclectic series of shoe stores dubbed “shoe row” you never now what’s going to pop up next. But with three months under their belt, Is-Wine, the new kid to the block, seems to have no trouble fitting right in.

Their friendly and personal approach may have something to do with it. Is-Wine’s greeting to those passing by is - “we’re not new to wine, just to the neighborhood, and we want to say hello” – so we thought we would take them up on the offer. We let ourselves in and took the liberty to peruse the space. The warm, wooden detailing on the ceiling and exposed brick walls lined with rows of wine feels like you walked into somebody’s personal cellar rather than a wine store. And that’s not too far off.

The store contains about 250 wines that have been hand selected by owner Frank Locker, a wine lover who travels the globe, searching for small quality-focused producers. He’s also the owner of The Dove wine bar just around the corner on Thompson between Bleecker and West 3rd. The prices per bottle range from $9 to very expensive (tax is included on the prices listed at shelf), and there are many in the $10 - $18 range to choose from.

What we loved about the Is-Wine is the selection of interesting and unique bottles that you don’t see everyday. There is no big Yellow Tail display up front or cases of Opus One, just a token floor plant that was being meticulously dusted, leaf by leaf, while we were there. But what you do find is an eclectic collection of wine ranging from a modern 2005 Anakena Sauvignon Blanc from Chile ($13) to a slightly dusty bottle of 1970 Cascina Bruni Barolo ($217). That pretty much runs the wine gamut. Maybe that’s the reason it fits so well in the neighborhood.

Is-Wine offers free wine tastings every Saturday from 4pm – 7pm.
24 West 8th Street, (between 5th and 6th ave.), 212 254-7800
Photo of Is-Wine in its pre-opening days