By Sasha Smith, New York City Correspondent

Wholefoods As a fan of the short-lived Whole Foods wine store at the
original New York City Columbus Circle location, I’m happy to see that the
healthy food chain ultimately won its battle with the New York State Liquor
Authority and re-opened a wine store last week, this time at 808 Columbus
Avenue, at 97th Street.

The original wine shop, which was located
in the supermarket, was shut down because it didn’t qualify as a separate

I’m even happier to see that the store will specialize in
New York State wines.

I liked the now-gone Vintage NY, but sometimes wondered
if the New York-only requirement didn’t reek of boosterism. Back when the
stores first opened more than a decade ago, there was a need to promote
little-known and poorly distributed local wines in New York City, where it was
easier to find a South African chenin blanc from halfway around the world than
a Long Island cabernet franc from just 90 miles away.

But the rapidly improving
quality of New York wines, to say nothing of the increased curiosity among New
York wine drinkers, made the role of Vintage NY increasingly unclear – and
probably less necessary. While I was sad to see Vintage NY go under, it’s a good
thing to see New York wines holding their own among wines from around the country and the world.

And while I don’t want to revive the wine-in-supermarkets
debate, I do think it’s a good idea to make it easy to shop for wine and food
at the same time. Given the obsessive focus on food and wine pairings I’ve
noticed on many New York City restaurant menus as of late, it seems silly that
the average consumer can’t purchase, say, a great steak and the wine to go with
at the same place.

For those of you who want to celebrate the opening of the
new store on site, there’s an opening party tomorrow, Monday August 24 from 5 to 8 p.m., with
the $15 price of admission to benefit Riverside Park.