Many wines get better with age; wine stores may not have matured along with them. “I found this photo of a wine store that was taken in 1966, and the funny thing is, it looks exactly like a wine store from today,” says Tyler Balliet, co-founder of Wine Riot, the party that began a decade ago in his Back Bay apartment and now draws hundreds of young oenophiles to biannual blowouts in Boston, Chicago and New York. “It dawned on us that wine retail hasn’t changed in over 50 years,” Balliet says. “There are millions of young wine consumers, and they’re walking into package stores, choosing wines based on labels.”
He and co-founder Morgan First hope to change that with their Wine Riot retail store, where infographics and maps of wine regions will cover the walls and technology stations will allow shoppers to track wines they like and access digital content. “We want you to walk into the French section, learn something about the region and have a solid understanding of the wines before you buy them,” Balliet says of the store, slated to open in May at 519 Tremont St. “An overwhelming majority of our event attendees live within one mile of the South End,” First adds. “We’ve been doing surveys after every Wine Riot for years, and the number-one thing people want is to be able to buy the wines.”
They’ll also be able to do just that at the next Wine Riot event, which hits the Park Plaza Castle on April 22-23 and marks the debut of a “buy” button for the brand’s mobile app. “You can come to the event, mark wines you like, buy them now, or save them for later and pick them up anytime you want,” Balliet says. Want to stretch your palate before the fest? Check out his picks for wines to try next based on your go-to glass.
Bonus Wine Buzz!
Wine Riot’s store won’t be the only new spot targeting thirsty Bostonians. Scheduled to open in October, City Winery Boston will bring a two-floor, 30,000-square-foot winery, restaurant, bar and live-music venue to the North End’s One Canal development. It’ll be the fifth location for the New York-based company, which has hosted concerts by the likes of Prince and Patti Smith and offers wines on tap and a barrel membership program for imbibers looking to make their very own vino.