Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Reserve Bin: Small, Diverse and Bubbly

I am continuing to work my way through my New Year's plans, visiting restaurants and wine stores that I have long wanted to visit, but just hadn't gone to yet.  Last week, while spending a few days in the Mansfield area, I was able to visit The Reserve Bin, a boutique wine, beer, and cigar shop located in Foxboro.

I had previously been chatting with the owner, Kristin Braga, on Twitter, and looked forward to finally meeting her in person and checking out her store. She is an engaging personality on Twitter so I had high expectations for her wine store.  It turned out to be a very pleasant experience, and I happily recommend that all wine lovers visit The Reserve Bin.

Kristin (pictured above), is petite, personable, bubbly and clearly passionate.  During the course of three days, I visited the store a few times, dined with Kristin and her fiancee Jack, and chatted with them about a wide range of topics.  It is inspiring that Kristin, at her young age, took a major risk to follow her passion for wine, leaving a career in advertising to open The Reserve Bin. The store had previously been a generic package store, but Kristin has transformed it into a diverse, boutique wine store. 

This has not been easy, and it has been most difficult trying to expose the local market to more diverse wines, not the usual mass produced, highly commercial wines.  That has been her biggest obstacle, trying to show people the value of more boutique wines.  This is accomplished through a lack of pretension, helping to make these wines accessible to the general consumer.  Their weekly wine tastings, usually held on Thursday nights, have helped to introduce people to different wines, and many young wine drinkers have flocked to these events.  Plus, Kristin's exuberent personality is another selling point.

The store carries about 350-400 wines, but there is plenty of diversity for such a small store, and Kristin is constantly seeking to expand their selection. For example, though they currently do not carry any Greek wines, Kristin is actively seeking a few to add to her inventory. 

Above, they carry some of their more eclectic offerings, including several sakes, sherry, madeira and boxed wines.  Kristin has made some very good choices, including some of my favorites such as the Bunraku Yamahai Junmai SakeLustau sherries, and the Y+B Organic wines in Tetra-Paks. Plus, they even sell some glassware.

Wine prices are average, and there is no price inflation just because this is more of a boutique winery. In addition, if you purchase 6 wines you get a 10% discount, and if you purchase a case, 12 wines, you get a 15% discount. Many wine stores don't offer a discount for any purchases under a case, so this is a benefit of shopping at the The Reserve Bin.

One of my Top Ten Wines of 2009 Under $15 was the 2007 Cerejeiras Regional Tinto, a superb value wine so I was very pleased to see that The Reserve Bin carries this wine, for $10, though obviously a newer vintage, the 2009. 

Kristin has given lots of support to local wines and beers, carrying one of the largest selections I have seen.  You'll find wines from Travessia Winery, Turtle Creek, Truro Vineyards, Still Rivers, Westport Rivers and many more.  Out of all their local wines, those from Travessia Winery sell the best, which is partially due to Kristin's advocacy of their wines but also because the wines taste good, and make people want to return to buy them again and again.  I too am a fan of Travessia Wines and can understand why they sell so well.

There is a section of assorted Craft Beers and a refrigerated case with a mix of craft beers and more common beers. Seems to be a good variety available here.

The wooden shelves contain wines from many of the usual wine regions, plus areas including Portugal, South Africa, Long Island (NY), Uruguay and more. I liked the diversity of the selection, including many wines you won't find in the usual generic package or wine warehouses.  Yes, the selection is relatively small, but Kristin has done a good job ensuring diverse and good choices.  She certainly seems to be very discerning in which wines she chooses to carry. 

One shelf unit is dedicated to the wines of 90+ Cellars, which I have reviewed multiple times before. They are a Massachusetts based company which buys excess wine from carefully selected wineries, rebottling it and then reselling it at a significant discount to the consumer.  They have some excellent wines, and they truly are values.  If you had to purchase the original wine, you often would have paid at least twice as much. 

Besides their wine and beer, they also sell cigars.  Now I don't smoke, but I do know people who enjoy a good cigar with wine, so those people will like the convenience of getting everything at one place.

In about a year, the store will be moving into an expanded spot just across the parking lot from where they are currently located.  That will enable the store to carry a larger inventory, and there are potential plans to add a special room for wine classes and seminars. 

As I have said repeatedly before, it is people that make the difference in restaurants, wine stores, and other food & wine related place.  Those people with a passion for what they do are those who are most likely to excel, and be the type of people who run places I enjoy.  Kristin certainly qualifies in that regard, and her bubbly personality is contagious.  Her boutique wine store has much to offer wine lovers, yet remains open, unpretentious and accomodating to the average consumer as well.  The Reserve Bin gets my recommendation and I hope you stop by and check it out.


Kristin Braga said...

Thank you Richard for your great review. I am so glad you got a chance to come see us!

Unknown said...

Kristin is considered to be a very good friend of mine and in my passed experiences she has made many good choices in her life including the Reserve Bin! I have had a chance since she has opened her establishement to sample many great wines and I DO smoke cigars so I think she also made a wise choice in having a humidor in the store. Thank you Kristin for such a diverse selection and look forward to trying many more trips to the Reserve Bin!

Romantic Dinner said...

great collection for the wine zone.

Travel Tourism said...

What shot it dear i think you are a big fan for wine.