Twenty eight years after its opening, Queen Anne Wine and Spirits Emporium is now the third- largest kosher wine retailer in the country. The store, family owned and operated, features wines from the U.S., Israel, France, Spain, Italy and Australia.
“My job is to give the consumers the national products they’re used to,” said Kevin Roche, store owner and certified sommelier,“and also to introduce them to new products that they will like so that they can trust any recommendation we make and know that what we give them is a product of quality and value.”
Roche stocks over 2,000 wines—around 750 of which are kosher—in addition to approximately 400 craft beers, 200 varieties of single malt scotch and a variety of other liquors. Prices range from 65 cents for a can of beer to $1,000 for a pricier bottle of wine.
Scotch and Bartenura Moscato D’asti are two of the biggest sellers for Roche because 60 percent of single malt in the metropolitan area is consumed by Orthodox Jews. Queen Anne is the biggest seller of it in New Jersey. As for the Moscato, the wine has “transcended its ethnicity,” according to Roche. Roche admits, however, that a quality product should be a concern. “There are products [out there] that the general public goes absolutely bonkers for, but, in all honesty, those products aren’t worth half the price most stores stock them for.”
Though customers may have favorites, Roche himself does not because each drink has its own nuances and personality. “I seem to enjoy every category of product that’s made well,” Roche says.
Four years ago, the high-end wine category was flourishing, but since then the category has dried up in the general market and slowed dramatically in the Orthodox Jewish market. Customers, Roche said, will spend more on whiskey than they will on wine. The average sale price on a bottle of wine is now $15.
Queen Anne Wine’s busiest seasons are Christmas and Passover, followed by Rosh Hashanah and Sukkot and then Thanksgiving and New Years. U.S. residents drink an average of nearly three gallons of wine a year according to the Wine Institute—much of this is consumed during these holidays.
Queen Anne Wine is one of only 16 WineMaster stores in New Jersey; this means that it has a seal of approval on the wine’s quality to price relationship and that it is run by a certified sommelier. The shop won the Patch Readers’ Choice award in 2012 for best liquor store.
Roche, one of the founders of WineMasters, has been interested in wine his whole life and believes that to find the best beverages, drinkers must have objective and educated palettes.
“It’s part of my genetic makeup. I’ve been involved since I was 18, which is all that I would admit to because otherwise I’d be breaking the law and I wouldn’t want to do that,” Roche says demurely.
The store is located on the south side of Teaneck, on the northwest corner of Queen Anne Road and DeGraw Avenue.
By Aliza Chasan