In the Neighborhood

Taste the World at Grand Wine and Liquor

Updated 34 weeks ago David Stone
Our favorite Chilean wine from Grand Wine and Liquor
Our favorite Chilean wine from Grand Wine and Liquor

On a trip to Vienna, we took a friend's advice, tracking down glasses of Grüner Veltliner for our first lunch in the Austrian city that was home to Mozart, Freud and Klimt. Back home, eager to add that dry flavor to our wine rack, we dropped into Grand Wine and Liquor, close by in Astoria and known for international selections. We found what we were looking for and a lot more.

We didn't know that "grüner" simply means "green" in German or that Veltliner grapes are native to a narrow stretch of land along the Danube (which was far from blue) as it flows from Austria into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. But that knowledge fit in with our love of travel and the variety of life experiences that go with it.

We expected to find Grüner Veltliner at Grand, but there were surprises.

"Look at this," my wife said, holding a bottle up for inspection. "Poland."

"Never saw that before."

Neither had she.

My grandmother-in-law traveled all the way from Poland to America before World War I, and we'd kept up the heritage with pierogis, cabbage and beets every Easter. But Polish wine? Never a thought until the day we first visited Grand Wine and Liquor.

It didn't stop there.

Nearby were wines from Greece and Hungary. Prefer domestic? How about choices from, honest to goodness, New Mexico and... Minnesota.

Yes, Minnesota. 

The international accent you find at Grand fits its neighborhood along 31st Street in Astoria (next to the 30th Avenue subway) where Popeye Doyle careened through a thrilling chase in The French Connection. It's also the street that's home to the popular Euro Market and Titan Foods, the best Greek grocery outside Athens.

Come to think about it, wouldn't Greek wine from Grand go perfectly with a plate of Papoutsakia?

A Little History

A family business started in 1933, Grand Wine and Liquor grew rapidly when Jack Battipaglia assumed leadership of the business in 1965, "...determined to make the then-small business, founded by his father in 1933, something great."

Battipaglia revolutionized a successful family business into an enterprise.

"Rising to the occasion at the helm of business operations," as the story is now told, "he poured his soul and sweat into Grand, creating a neighborhood institution in the heart of Astoria and becoming an industry legend in the process."

It was always personal as well as business, the secret mix that makes Grand great.

"Jack's huge heart and outsized personality touched the lives of many. He lived a life full of love, laughter, and good cheer, placing family and Grand above all else."

That insight came later.

My wife and I walked in the door looking for some of the pleasures we remembered from Vienna. We left with a box I was barely able to lug out of the store. Only my physical limitations stopped me.

The prices were great, actually amazing when you consider the variety. Fortunately for my credit card balance, I had to stop at what my two arms could manage.

You can find Grand Wine and liquor easily at 30-05 31st Street in Astoria at the corner of 30th Avenue. If you don't drive, take an N or W train to the 30th Avenue Station or take a relaxed ride on the Q102.

Any questions? Give Grand a call: 718-728-2520.

Personally, I'm hoping to persuade them to make deliveries to Roosevelt Island. It's just a suggestion, but maybe if they hear from enough of us...

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