BEDFORD, N.Y. – In evaluating wine, Scott Wunderlich of Bedford Wine Merchants says there is no substitute for taste. He and his father, Arthur, have more than 60 years combined experience selling wine, and taste is always the ultimate arbiter.
“The only real way to learn about wine is by tasting it,’’ said Scott Wunderlich, who joined his father in the business in 2007 after working for eight years as a trial attorney. “You can study, you can read books, and you can know the regions. At the end of the day, you have to taste it to cultivate your palate.”
Scott worked as a youngster in his father's store in Greenwich Village, which he opened in the mid-1970s. His father opened the Bedford store in 1995 when he grew weary of the New York commute. Scott maintained an interest in wine and the business even while working as an attorney.
“It wasn’t necessarily the plan that I would join him,’’ Scott said. “But all through my schooling, and even on Saturdays when I was working as an attorney, I would work at the store. I’d go to wine tastings and other events, so I always had my foot in the door. I still have a handful of cases and have all my licenses, but let’s face it, it’s a lot more enjoyable to sell wine than being stuck in court. I had a good run at the law firm.”
Scott said he learned about wine by working with his father. “My summer job was moving cases,’’ Scott said. “Growing up in the retail business, you learn about wines from the get-go. I’ve grown up trying some world class wines. It has been a fun ride.”
Besides taste, Scott said wine enthusiasts also need to learn to match the right wine with the right food. “It’s a fun learning experience to match it with foods,’’ Scott said. “You’ll see a transformation when it matches the food. When you get it, it’s like night and day.”
The Wunderlichs have assembled one of the finest California wine portfolios in the East, and the store has been named “One of Westchester’s Great Wine Shops” by Westchester Magazine. Arthur has been the source for articles in The New York Times about wine tasting. Arthur writes recipes for the store newsletter that is sent to customers, and customers can shop by region, grape and price on the store website.
“One thing that distinguishes us from other shops is that we’ve tasted 95 percent of the wines in the shop,’’ Scott said. “If we don’t like a wine, we don’t bring it in for the most part. There are a few wines that you have to have, because the customers want them. We’re very much hands-on here. We try to help our customers as much as we can.”
Bedford Wine Merchants is at 24 Village Green in Bedford. Call 914-234-6012. Store hours are Monday-Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, 12-5 p.m.