Long Island Wine & Spirits Merchants
1171 Jericho Tpke. Commack, NY 631-343-7200
Adam Schneider dates his love affair with wine from before he was old enough to drink it legally. "I was working at a liquor store when I was 19," he recalled, "and the owner started giving me tastes, asking for my opinions."
Schneider, 31, can still remember the bottle "that did it for me. I tasted a '97 Dominus Napanook — '97 was hailed as one of California's greatest vintages — the flavors hit my lips, and I thought, 'I could do this for the rest of my life.'"
As soon as he graduated from college, Schneider enrolled at the Sommelier Society of America in Manhattan and became a certified sommelier. When Long Island Wine & Spirits Merchants opened in Commack in December 2009, Schneider came aboard as wine buyer. He had already been working with owner Phil Salierno at a store, since closed, in Franklin Square.
In Commack, Schneider's goal is to get people drinking the lesser-known wines that he feels are almost always a better value than "name brands." If someone comes in looking for a Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio ($18.99), Schneider asks them "Do you want a dry, crisp wine with flavor or without flavor?" Assuming they go for flavor, he'll tell them, "I can put you into a better pinot grigio at a better price," for example, OKO, for $14.98 or Casalini, $9.98. Or he might steer them to a dry, crisp white that's not a pinot grigio, say, the Lugarara Gavi di Gavi ($17.99), a current favorite.
Wine & Spirits stocks about 1,500 bottles, almost all of which Schneider has tasted. Rare among Long Island sellers, he sells more French than Italian. "I look for balance, and for quality for the price," he said. "No one does balance and value better than the French."
-- ERICA MARCUS (first published Sept. 1, 2011)
Adam Schneider, a certified sommelier, is the wine buyer at Long Island Wine & Spirits Merchants in Commack. (Aug. 23, 2011)