These days you don’t have to visit a high-end restaurant or wine shop to get reliable recs for your next bottle of wine. Thanks to Wine Larder, now you can tap into the knowledge of sommeliers with the click of a mouse.
Helmed by 24-year-old Joey Letchinger and 27-year-old Chase Sinzer, Wine Larder is a digital concierge service for people looking for quality, affordable wines. The two sommeliers forged a friendship in 2012 while working at Danny Meyer’s Maialino (Letchinger worked his way from front-of-house to sommelier, while Sinzer was dining room manager), where they developed a mutual passion for wine and quickly realized there were limited resources for twenty-somethings looking for great budget-friendly wines. “For so long there was a belief that the only wines worth seeking out were expensive, hard to find and only in the best restaurants,” says Letchinger, whose résumé also includes a sommelier stint at Del Posto. “We want to take what the legends before us did with wine—personalize the wine experience for their respective generation—and modernize it for our age group.”
Wine Larder is based in New York City, though Sinzer, who also previously worked as a sommelier at Narcissa and wine director at Momofuku Ko, lives in Los Angeles. The partners manage all aspects of the operation—sourcing bottles from around the world, helping broker sales, organizing wines for events, choosing pairing options for dinners, advising on cellar storage, and consulting on cellar maintenance. Much of the work they do revolves around finding wines that hit the same level of quality as those from respected wineries, but at a price suited to everyday drinking. “Most of the people we work with will splurge on the occasional bottle because they feel good about buying an insanely good wine, but they don’t have the kind of money to collect wine, so they trust us to recommend more inexpensive versions that they can drink two or three times a week,” says Letchinger.
Transactions typically start on the Wine Larder website, but Sinzer and Letchinger also regularly meet with clients in person. So far, they’ve mostly worked with customers within their own age group—24- to 30-year-olds who appreciate classic wines but who have modest budgets. “We’ve asked ourselves, ‘How can we better utilize the internet? How do you connect with people your own age and foster the development of their relationship with wine?’ We want to answer those questions,” says Letchinger.
So far, their approach seems to be working. Since consulting for a few dozen clients two years ago to formally launching the Wine Larder website at the beginning of 2016, they’ve built a customer base of about 1,000 individuals, restaurants and collectors. Moving forward, Sinzer hopes to continue strengthening their wine connections so they can offer even better deals to customers. “My goal is to be on the pulse so much that we know about these [winemakers] before they’re even coming to the United States.”
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