Photograph by Chris Smith
Zach Eidson clocked 10 years in the wine business—both as a sommelier at Jean-Robert’s Table and more recently as a wine wholesaler—before he opened the updated Oakley Wines in March. He moved the shop two doors down from its original location, into a spot around the corner from veteran venues King Arthur’s Court Toys and Habits Café.
Eidson bought the shop from its founders, Joe and Lois Santangelo, who focused less on presentation and more on sourcing their favorite wines—the no-nonsense approach meant storing impressively affordable bottles on the floor in their original cases. Eidson started the new shop by upping the merchandising ante. Gone are the stacks of cardboard boxes and in their place is a modern build-out holding Eidson’s well-edited selections—90 percent of which cost less than $20 a bottle (a carryover from the Santangelo days). You’ll also find craft beer brands like Six Points from Brooklyn and new local favorite MadTree.
Eidson’s mantra is to make wine buying “approachable and affordable.” He stocks one Bordeaux, not 20, and chooses bottles that can satisfy a range of palates. The blended Domaine de Pajot 2011 ($9.99), for example, is “a balanced white that satisfies sauvignon blanc, pinot grigio, and chardonnay lovers,” says Eidson, who enjoys sharing his knowledge in friendly, understandable prose. “I may not be the smartest guy,” he says, “but I know enough to help people learn the basics.”
Oakley Wines, 4011 Allston St., Oakley, (513) 531-1400, oakleywines.com
Originally published in the August 2013 issue