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Best Wine Shop 

Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

Face it folks, there's more good wine on the shelves at your standard East Bay supermarket than in entire specialty stores throughout the Midwest. But to the delight of oenophiles who wouldn't be caught dead buying Zin at Safeway, Kermit Lynch has been traveling the back roads of Europe visiting vintners for over 25 years, and importing his favorites. This has had a tremendous influence on the food and wine scenes, not just locally but also nationally. Alice Waters credits Lynch with influencing her cooking; before he got started, wines from regions such as Provence and Languedoc were practically unknown -- and even in more famous appellations like Burgundy and Tuscany, the wine merchant has managed to discover some tiny but noteworthy cellars. Take a virtual vineyard tour of the Continent in the shop -- all of whose wines were imported by Lynch himself, ranging in price from under $10 to over $100 a bottle -- through the sunny southern French fields of Bandol through Alsace's winter chill, over the Alps to northern Ital, and beyond. Intimidated by the thought of buying wines from places you've never even heard of? Relax. The friendly staff are as good at helping patrons with their geography as with filling their shopping baskets.

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