Holiday Shopping 2023: Stewart’s Wine & Spirits


Inside Stewart's Wine & Spirits, 215 Elm St. Credit: Michael Dinan

For today’s installment of our local holiday shopping series, we met up with Larry Klem, store manager at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits.

Here’s our conversation.


Taconic Distillery Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Dutchess private reserve, 90 proof. $49.99, at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits, 215 Elm St. Credit: Michael Dinan

New Canaanite: Tell me about Stewart’s Wine & Spirits and its customers.

Larry Klem: We have a really, I would say, vibrant customer base. Pretty wine savvy customers. We specialize in a lot of European wines. We taste the wines or get information on the wines before they’re even released and then put together an order and then they come in, and our customers just love them. We have burgundy from different regions and we try to give our customers good information because burgundy can be very confusing. Basically, it’s Chardonnay for the white and Pinot Noir for the red grape. Within the nice little tags on each wine throughout the store, we also try to give a little regional information about it. Everyone here at Stewart’s is pretty wine-knowledgeable, so it’s a balance of not getting people too much information while seeing how much they want to learn about wine. Sometimes customers just want to get in and out, so it’s just good to have a quick little soundbite. And we do that with all our tabs. They give us a quick little two words or one-word snapshot of the wine.  

Jean Marc Crochet 2022 Sancerre, $29.99 at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits, 215 Elm St. Credit: Michael Dinan

What kind of things are people coming in to look for this holiday season?

Thanksgiving is a big volume season where people are buying a lot of wine because they’re typically having a large dinner. It shifts a little in December where there are more holiday parties. But people are looking, as the weather changes, for more reds. California Cabs, Pinots—Oregon Pinot Noir has been really popular. In our French section, Cotes-du-Rhone has always been a great fall classic, aice spicy kind of red that goes great with holiday foods. We always try, with our wine descriptions, to pair with what’s going on with the [Walter Stewart’s] Market as far as what they have as specials.

Crossbarn 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon, $55.99 at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits, 215 Elm St. Credit: Michael Dinan

What would you say to someone who maybe sometimes gets wine as an afterthought or has driven by the Stewart’s Spirits, but hasn’t stopped in.

I encourage them to come in. We love to talk about wine. I think we have a great selection of wines in everything from smaller producers to the larger, more mainstream California labels. It’s always a blend of people that are looking for some of the larger well known brands, but also what I find encouraging is that even post-COVID, is that people are browsing. And browsing is a great indication that people are hunting and looking and that’s where we engage them. We have a lot of return customers. The synergy between the Market and us—you can’t really put a price on that, to be honest. We have a very loyal customer base. But for anyone that is new, I always encourage you to come in. We have wine tastings every Friday and Saturday, even more during the holiday season. We’re wine knowledgeable and we’re all friendly here. You’re never going to find anybody here that’s intimidating with their knowledge or anything like that. We know the balance between  helping customers work efficiently through the store and those who want to talk. 

Other Half Brewery Space Diamond, 8.5% ABV, $24.99 for a four pack at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits, 215 Elm St. Credit: Michael Dinan

One of the things I’ve always liked about Stewart’s Spirits since you opened in this building is the expanded selection of beers. It seems to me that Stewart’s is pretty deliberate and careful about bringing in beer, especially IPAs. There’s a lot of different options there. 

We have a great beer selection and to your point, IPAs are probably our largest category in craft beers. That being said, I have seen a trend more toward lagers and some lighter-ABV beers. And in general that could be going along with people just also looking for non-alcs. The non-alc beer business has really exploded. What used to be just maybe the dry January kind of thing has now turned into a yearly thing for some people. We’ve seen a trend of people buying a four pack of a nice craft IPA, and then also buying a non-alc. And they mix it up a little. They want to still enjoy the flavor of beer, but they’re watching how much alcohol they’re consuming. There’s definitely a health-conscious aspect to the beer. 

Stewart’s Wine & Spirits at 215 Elm St. (here on Instagram and Facebook) is 9-7:30 Mon-Thurs, 9-8 Fri-Sat and 11-6 Sun. The store will be open 10-5 on Dec. 24 and will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *