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N.J.'s wine maestros remove the mystery of wine selection

Robert_Peirceleft_and_Chris_Zanzarella_optBY TOM PERIĆ
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

Marlton, N.J. — Have you ever stood in a liquor store aisle staring at row after row of wine, wondering which bottle you should purchase, then play it safe and picked up the most expensive one on the shelf?  Robert Peirce and Chris Zanzarella of the award-winning Canal’s BottleStop are all too familiar with this situation.

“Wine selection is almost as complicated an art as winemaking itself and takes years of dedicated training,” says Zanzarella.  “That’s why our customers are so loyal. They see we have the same passion for wine as they do.”

Zanzarella backs up his passion with knowledge. He is a certified specialist in wine and is very close to receiving his diploma with distinction of Wine & Spirits from England's Wine & Spirit Education Trust. He has also traveled extensively to California, Italy and France to gain hands on knowledge of the wines of those regions.

In a business where 60 percent of sales derive from wine, BottleStop offers a wide selection of more than 4,500 wines, ranging in price from $4.99 to $749.95, that come from the most popular and well-respected vineyards in America and from around the world.

“With such a wide array of wine selections to choose from, it’s almost impossible for a customer to know if they are getting something that’s worth their money,” says Peirce.  “One of the skills I’m most proud of is choosing a $12 bottle of wine that can bring as much joy to your pallet as a $50 bottle.”

Peirce worked for Canal’s Bottlestop for 10 years before he joined Vintage Imports as a distribution representative. While there, he used his knowledge of winemaking to help local restaurants build their wine lists and train their staff on wine tasting and pairing.  He also worked with the local South Jersey wine shops, including Canals Bottlestop.

“It’s also important to understand what goes into making a $200- plus bottle of wine for our more discriminating clientele,” says Peirce.  “The best part of my day is teaching our customers something new and having them leave here a little more respect for the craft of wine selection than when they came in.”

In addition to wine, Canal’s BottleStop carries approximately 1,400 spirits ranging in price from $22.25 to $304.99 a bottle and more than 800 selections of popular domestic, international, and local and national craft beers.

Canal’s BottleStop in Marlton, N.J., recently received the prestigious Market Watch Leader Award for 2011 from Market Watch Magazine. Market Watch is a leading, well-respected, trade publication for the wine, spirits and beer retailing industry. Canal’s BottleStop is one of only five stores chosen from a national list of retailers in the wine, spirits and beer industry.

Longtime friends Peter Fletcher, a former aerospace industry executive, and Tom Doyle, a restaurateur and operator of other nonaffiliated liquor stores, have owned Canal’s BottleStop for 17 years. The store is affiliated with Canal’s network of 10 individually owned and operated stores in South Jersey.  Visit the location at 10 W.Route 70, Marlton, NJ 08053 or call 1.856.983.4991 to find the perfect bottle of wine. For more information visit http://www.wineaccess.com/store/canalsmarlton/index.html.

 
Comments (8)
8 Saturday, 05 May 2012 21:05
Joe the plumber
How you trust a store that obviously is writing all these fake comments themselves and pretending to be customers. I guess its because they lost charlie. Trying to pump up the next guy.
7 Monday, 09 April 2012 17:08
Stacy Covelli
We just returned from a trip to Napa Valley (overwhelming)! I've been into Canal's Bottlestop many times, but seem to miss Chris Zanzarella. When are you there so I can plan my trip accordingly???
6 Monday, 02 April 2012 20:07
Tom and Maria Costello
The main reason we shop at Canals is because of the excellent service we receive from Chris. If you are looking for wine for pizza, fish or steak, you can rely on Chris' recommendation. Chris truly knows his wine! Stop in Canals to see Chris...you will not be disappointed!
5 Monday, 02 April 2012 16:36
Ken Davis
On the recomendation of Chris' Aunt Louisa, who knows her wine as well, I stopped in to meet Chris. I told him of my interests, my price range and my dislikes, and he was extremely helpful. No hard sell, and I've heard both the sales pitches before at other stores, as well as seen the lack of good information. Steered me away from some things, and opened up some new doors. The price is right, the service was excellent, and I will be a repeat customer. Thanks, Louisa!
4 Sunday, 01 April 2012 14:47
Louisa Yoga Lunatic
i like to keep a few bottles on hand to grab for a quick "lunch with the ladies".....and the selection Chris has provided makes me the envy of the group....always enjoyable....and reasonable....except the time i grabbed one of my husbands Grande Cru.....from his section of the wine cellar!
3 Friday, 23 March 2012 14:13
Mark Frumento
Nice to see Chris and Canals get some publicity. I buy all of my wine from Canals - the prices are impossible to beat. But the main reason I go to Canals is Chris. He has interesting tastes and knows his stuff. With the expection of a few mid-priced wines most of the bottles Chris recommends to me run, on average, about $15. There's a particular Italian red that he recommended at $8.99 that I buy everytime I visit the store - so often the prices are better than $15. That said, if your tastes are expensive I'm sure Chris can accomodate you.

PS I believe I coined the phrase "Chris Pick".
2 Wednesday, 21 March 2012 09:07
Mark Keegan
Anyone reading this who has been frustrated trying to find great Wine within your budget I strongly recommend that you visit Chris Zanzarella at Canals in Marlton. My experience has been that Chris's passion and education of Wine will turn you on to Wineries and Varietals that you may not have previously considered but will want to purchase again after trying Chris's suggestions. He is a pleasure to deal with and will be very patient with your questions and thoughtful in his responses.
1 Tuesday, 20 March 2012 18:02
A. J. Bosco
You never can go wrong with a Chris Pic!

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