Discover something new at the Birmingham Wine Shop.
By Matt Totsky
Photography by Brett Mountain
Ed Bosse has an inviting and exclusive take on the wine business. “The whole industry needs to get over itself,” he says. “Wine is supposed to be fun. It’s an adventure. There’s no reason to get uptight about whether you’re drinking what others consider to be the best. The bottom line is if you like something, then you drink it. And when that happens, you’re on the right track.”
This attitude and a sincere love for wine prompted Bosse to open the Birmingham Wine Shop in 2014. Located on the northern section of Old Woodward Avenue, the store caters to people seeking a more inviting, colorful environment without any pretension.
“The world of expensive, over-produced wines is snobby,” Bosse says. “If I tell people that everything we have in stock are clean, exclusive bottles, it sounds like I’m trying to be snobby, too. But that’s not true at all.”
The proof of Bosse’s bold statements line the shelves of his store for everyone to see. Certainly, a quick walk through the Birmingham Wine Shop will reveal a considerable selection of collectible and undiscovered wines in the 95- to 100-point range, but much of the stock is extremely affordable as well.
“What I’ve tried to do is create a section of about 100 wines all priced $15 and under,” Bosse says. “It’s my job to let my customers know that even though a particular bottle sells for $12 or $15, it’s still clean, well-made and not what you’d find at a big grocery store or in a chain restaurant.”
Bosse regularly meets with suppliers from all over the world to fill his showroom. “I’ve worked with them long enough to get them to understand what we’re trying to do here — which is carry more nuanced wines with smaller production runs,” he explains.
“They help us find the hidden gems that we know our clients will enjoy. They’ve been trained to know what the store likes, and they are bringing me the best of their best because they know this is what my customers have come to expect from us. My distributors are like partners — they get us.”
This strategy has enabled the shelves at Birmingham Wine Shop to consistently be stocked with wines from all over the world including Argentina, France, Italy and Spain. It also has a nice selection of wines from Michigan as well as from Napa Valley, Sonoma, Washington and Oregon.
“The Oregon wines are some of our most popular at the moment,” Bosse says. “There’s a vintage from 2014 that’s just amazing, but I don’t consider myself a collector of wines. I like to try new things, sometimes personally tasting 10-20 wines a day. My goal is to keep the store full of good wine and to keep it moving as well so there’s always something new here for everyone.”
Bosse’s love for wine grew naturally. A former second-grade teacher and advertising copywriter, he owned other wine stores in the past. He also spent some time working in upscale restaurants, observing the interaction between food and wine.
“I became fascinated with the social aspects of wine,” he says. “It’s something that seems to bring a simple grace to life, especially when it’s done right. My experiences have allowed me to develop a good relationship with the local wine community. When I was ready to open this store, I was able to tap into an existing clientele that makes up about half of my business. The other half comes from the local foot traffic. We are lucky to have a fantastic location surrounded by some great restaurants, salons and shops.”
Customers who seek out wine tastings as a way to discover something new should be aware that the Birmingham Wine Shop hosts these events every Sunday from May to mid-October.
“People come down here for the Farmers’ Market,” Bosse says. “It’s a fun, festive atmosphere with a lot of food; and people are looking for a nice wine to complement their next meal.”
The store also recently began serving Commonwealth coffee and delicious French pastries.
Additionally, Bosse has a lot of other interesting ideas to make the Birmingham Wine Shop a fixture on the local scene.
“Currently, we’re using our back room for community functions and various other gatherings,” he says. “It’s a casual and undefined space and, eventually, I would like it to be used as an art gallery, specifically for Northern Michigan artists. Some of the work that’s going on up there has a colorful spirit and energy that coincides with my vision for the store. I’d like to tap into that spirit and build a vibe for people who appreciate that sort of thing.
“The bottom line is that I’m more of a common wine type of person. If there are others out there who feel the same way, then this is the perfect place for them.” NS
FOR MORE INFO
Birmingham Wine Shop
588 N. Old Woodward Ave., Birmingham