Astor Wines to Leave Astor Place

Village institution to open wine school, library

"It is going to be, to my knowledge, the only green wine store in the United States," said Astor Wines & Spirits owner Andrew Fisher, elaborating on his plans for the Fisher family liquor shop that has occupied Astor Place for the past 38 years. In February 2006, Astor Wines will reopen at Lafayette and 4th St under a drastically new name—wait for it—the Astor Center.

Fisher went on to describe the new way they'd be saving and conserving energy, and it was all very fascinating, even if it still stopped short of any of the solar-powered brilliance of Fort Greene's Habana Outpost. We were a bit disappointed. We also couldn't help wondering if you can really still call it Astor Center if you're technically no longer on Astor Place.

Oh, well. With this much larger venue, Fisher went on to inform us, they will be able to house a new educational facility for wine and food classes, The Study at Astor Center. The rather loftily-titled Study will feature a classroom with special lighting where you can properly examine your wine. Other additions to the Center include 50% more room for wines and liquors; an actual library of wine literature; a room to store 500 of the more fragile wines at 58 degrees; a special organic-wine section; and the city's biggest selection of saké, kept at 40 degrees ("the way those wines should be maintained").

Site of the new Astor Center, above and below Serafina
photo: Corina Zappia
Site of the new Astor Center, above and below Serafina

Such ambitious plans seem a little odd to us, as this is already New York's largest wine store. Do you really need an oenophilic version of Super Kmart? And more important, does this mean Astor's prices will go up? "Oh no, assured Fisher. "If anything, the opposite." Whew.

At this point, we couldn't help but ask what Fisher thought of his odious, soon-to-be-former neighbor, the visually incongruous luxury hi-rise we ourselves are forced to walk around every single day, the sinister Sculpture for Living. "You know, it's up. Whatever my opinion is, it doesn't matter," he diplomatically replied. "It's there."

Would that we all could be so accepting.

 
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