As Staten Islanders stay put, wine sales go up

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Since Kristin Choo has been staying at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, she admits she’s “probably drinking more these days.”

“With both my adult children staying here while working from home, we are having real family dinners again,” said Choo, a West Brighton resident and freelance writer. “Dinner seems to come together at about 7 p.m., right after clappy time. And it seems a good time to pour some wine and settle down for the evening.”

And Choo isn’t alone.

Since Kristin Choo has been staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic, she admits she’s “probably drinking more these days.”

The wine industry — unlike most other businesses — hasn’t been adversely impacted during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, wine sales were already up nationwide by 66% by the week ending March 21, according to Nielsen, a U.S. information and data firm. And alcohol sales in general spiked by 55% during the same time period, according to the company.

Many local wine store owners report a spike in sales as people seem to be drinking more while they are sheltering in place.

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“With restaurants closed, that market is surviving because of retail store sales,” said Lorie Honor, who with her husband, Robert, owns the Stapleton-based Honor Wines, which has been in business for eight years. “Everyone employed in the wine trade — distributors, sales reps, warehouses, truck drivers — they are all getting by because of retail store customers like ours.”

She said sales are up and comparable to the volume that is usually reserved for the busy season, which is typically November and December.

Six-foot distance

Pam Brech maintains a six-foot distance from Lorie Honor as she picks up wine.(Courtesy of Lorie Honor) – . Courtesy of Lorie HonorCourtesy of Lorie Honor

“But unlike season buying, which is somewhat predictable, current wine-buying is all over the place,” said Honor, who has launched a doorstep delivery service during the pandemic.

“Many customers are on their third and fourth case since the quarantine. Some want the same thing and some want to try new things. Some are drinking in the day and want wines with lower alcohol and some want some big, plush, comfort wines, like Malbec. Some are really staying at about $150-$180 a case every time, and some are splurging on some Napa, and Bordeaux more than usual,” she added.

But some wines are selling more than others, and with many people out of work, they are opting for lower-cost varieties.

“I’ve noticed a real uptick in California Cabernet and Chardonnay sales and requests. Maybe there’s a comfort in thinking of sunny California, or a nostalgia over a trip to Napa in better days. Or maybe the wines are just easy to drink and a pleasure to pour and re-pour. Friendly reds like California Cabernets, Cotes Du Rhones and anything from Southern Italy in the $13-$18 range are being enjoyed all over the Island,” said Honor.

VIRTUAL WINE PARTIES

Vitual wine parties

“I wouldn’t say I have been drinking more, but I have had the opportunity to participate in a few virtual gatherings with friends and family that included drinking, including a happy hour with friends, an 85th birthday celebration with family, and a fabulous wine tasting with Honor Wines,” said Laura Parenti-Norden, and Annadale resident and owner Bozo’s Army & Navy Store, Great Kills.

And it seems that people don’t want to drink alone during the pandemic.

Due to social distancing and the mandated closures of all social venues, many people have taken to virtual wine parties during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I wouldn’t say I have been drinking more, but I have had the opportunity to participate in a few virtual gatherings with friends and family that included drinking, including a happy hour with friends, an 85th birthday celebration with family, and a fabulous wine tasting with Honor Wines,” said Laura Parenti-Norden, an Annadale resident and owner of Bozo’s Army & Navy Store, Great Kills.

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