Since moving to Maine three years ago, there have been some lonely days. And there have been some really wonderful days. I think it’s inevitable to miss home. The places. The faces. The smells. There is something about Boston that just fills me up inside. Now that I visit Boston only on rare occasion, I have searched Portland for trinkets that make me feel like home. Small tokens that brighten up my day. Give me a little boost. A couple of years ago, I found a place that has yet to be topped in my list of favorite places: Old Port Wine & Cigar on Commercial St. It’s not even the beautiful shop or the fantastic selection that I marvel at, although they are pretty spectacular, it’s the gentleman who greets me that I can never seem to stop smiling at. He’s warm. He’s kind. He’s jolly. He’s got this magical energy that is undeniably charismatic. When he speaks of something he loves, his eyes light up and his body moves in such a way, that you want to experience whatever he is telling you about. He makes me feel something when I go in that is beyond replaceable. He makes me feel like home. It’s a strange thing really but his personality makes that shop one hundred percent. We have spoken about South Africa and he showed me his collection of photographs from his trip, we have laughed about driving in Italy and how it’s a near death experience and he has been generous with my children when they probably didn’t deserve it. (Being crazy kids in a wine shop and all) And as you probably have guessed I don’t actually know his name, I don’t think I have ever asked. I will make it a point next time. But he is the only one in there every time I go to visit.
I usually browse the shop in a mere few moments. He knows when to leave me be and when to come and interact. He has shown me so many amazing wines that I can not stop drinking. And he’s basic about his attitude with wine: “It’s grape juice, just drink it.” I like that he has never sold me an out of reach expensive bottle but rather recommends casual drinking wines that are just delicious. He’s always willing to tell some anecdote about a wine that fascinates me or show my husband and I something really interesting. On my birthday last year he sold my husband a bottle of wine from Italy and he told him to keep it untill Emma gets married (she’s 7). That feels very special and sentimental to me. It makes me love that bottle of wine, gives me a reason to hold on to it and something to look forward to. His selection can not be beat. You could drop a grand in there if you wanted to or twenty bucks. I usually come out with 4-8 bottles and spend anywhere from $100 to $250. The bottles he recommends always come with a reason, “This wine is made my monks.” Ok, sounds pretty cool to me.
We live in a world where everyone turns a blind eye. Money is a driving force. In this shop, it’s about the experience. They nurture the customer in such a pleasant way that you don’t want to buy from anywhere else. My last time in the shop was six months ago and this man recognizes me and says “It’s been a long time.” How amazing is that? But here is the thing, I haven’t bought wine from anyone else in that quantity. It may have been a long time but this is my place. This is where I feel good. And I’m going back there when I need to re-stock, when I feel like I just want some more wine, when I just want to leave with a smile. There is no where else that will get my money. Every business should take a page from this shop’s book.
I advise you all to go there and experience the magic for yourselves. You certainly won’t regret it.
223 Commercial St.