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Les Caves de Prague

Parisian wine shops tend to exhibit tunnel vision, often to the point of obsession: either they sell natural/organic/biodynamic wine, or they sell “traditional” wine, and rarely do the twain meet. One sees many of the same wines over, and over, and over again.

Not here. There’s plenty to satisfy any palate or ideology, and what’s more a lot of the labels aren’t the common names littering most modern restaurant lists. Add in a casual vibe, a ton of tables for casual in-store imbibing (with a wonderfully minuscule droit de bouchon), a rather surprising menu of tapas and the usual wine bar comestibles, and there’s finally something new under the Parisian sun.

Le Vin Qui Parle

An attractive and likable cave in the Latin Quarter, but slick design can’t quite mask a partial dearth of bottles of particular interest. There are famous names here and there, but much of the stock is more puzzling than eyebrow-raising. The staff is generous (in that there are more of them than one expects in a place of this size) and friendly, but they’re clearly working from a supply chain unlike that feeding much of their more adventurous competition. The already-knowledgable can certainly find many things to drink here…but then, the already knowledgable are very likely shopping elsewhere. Still, a pleasant shopping experience goes a long way.

L’Etiquette

A shop full of natural, biodynamic, and organic wine doesn’t seem the likeliest candidate for a heavily touristed corner of the Île Saint-Louis. But while it’s possible that a fair number of visitors are baffled by the racks of unfamiliar wines, and at least a few of the rest are just popping in to ask for directions to Berthillon, uncannily affable proprietor and raconteur Hervé Lethielleux is a laid-back advocate for wines that often benefit from a little advocacy.

The selection’s pretty evenly weighted between acknowledged stars and semi-obscurities, and there’s an extant yet reasonable location-based premium, but what’s not to love about a store like this in such a prime location?

Tastings every Saturday, all day, though at any given time there’s usually something open.