By Doc Lawrence

It’s everything and more you expect from a good bar. Friendly, familiar faces where a stranger immediately feels at home. The owner has a degree in viniculture from the University of California at Davis. A gracious and lovely lady with a warm smile is remarkably charming as hostess and manager. The ambience is comfortable, with a feel reminiscent of the old television comedy, “Cheers”.

Burgundy Wine Company is a wine bar. More accurately, it is a combination wine bar and upper-scale retail store, which has been a mainstay on Ocean Drive in South Florida’s island paradise Lauderdale-By-The-Sea for almost four years. Loyal patrons, including local regulars and customers from far away places often call it “the best wine bar in America.”

I stumbled in last year along with my houseguests. We qualify as wine enthusiasts and regularly spent a good deal of time and money purchasing fine wine for dining and stocking our cellars. When we entered, Sherry Hunter and Michael Panzer, Burgundy’s managers, extended a greeting and took the time to get to know us while they readied glasses of things delightful from the glory of the grape. We were there for hours, and I have since made Burgundy Wine Company a regular stop.

“We’ve been here on a wine mission,” observed Sherry, “and every day is a thrill.” Lauderdale-By-The Sea denizen Harry Littman owns Burgundy Wine Company and is a genuine wine expert. Harry excels in the art of conversation, and is filled with vast wine knowledge acquired through experience ranging from having his own vineyard in California to travels in the great wine producing regions of the world. “My favorite wines are from Burgundy,” he said. Thus, the origin of his store’s name. “But, I have an abiding love for wines from anywhere I find the magic combination of excellence in the bottle with a fair price.”

To be nominated as the best wine bar in America seems hyperbolic, but as the old saying goes, “it ain’t braggin’ if you can back it up.” Burgundy is unquestionably an exceptional retail wine shop where you can buy a bottle or case of any wine you enjoy at the bar. I’ve enjoyed many a glass of wine in the best wine bars coast to coast and in other countries. Before my Burgundy Wine Company introduction, my favorite was Old Possum’s, (borrowing its name from T.S.Eliot) a fabulous facility in Bristol, England. Burgundy has the warmth that Old Possum’s lacked. Burgundy’s management style and service is relaxed. Absent is the dreaded and uncomfortable ceremony that seems to accompany a glass of wine in other wine bars. And there is no pompous, gratuitous wine lecture.

Also, few wine bars anywhere other than Burgundy offer retail sales of great wines. Value is always in my mind when sizing up any wine offering. Go into Burgundy and ask Sherry or Michael to pour their choice of a white or red wine and instead of a minute portion of pedestrian overpriced wine, you get a generously poured glass containing a wine of great character and solid reputation.

Jimmy Carr, the renowned Atlanta-based trial lawyer and owner of one of the country’s best-stocked cellars visited Burgundy and recalls it as “a truly exceptional wine bar and store. I’ve been to literally hundreds,” he added, “and I rate Burgundy at the top. It’s the nearest wine store in quality and standards I’ve found to Jim Sanders Wines in Atlanta.”

Burgundy has regular wine tastings along with popular wine dinners that attract patrons far beyond the lovely confines of Lauderdale-By-The Sea. Upcoming events are posted on a chalkboard on the main wall and, according to Sherry, “they sell out.” I’ve been to a few and was wowed by the diverse array of wines expertly paired with gourmet dishes, all at a spectacularly reasonable price.

Burgundy Wine Company is a jewel in this wonderful paradise. I am regularly enriched with laughter, great stories, and introductions to visitors from the four corners. Each visit is an opportunity to make new friends. Of course, the main attraction is the wine. And that’s what you get at the best wine bar in America.
Burgundy Wine Company is located at 4335 North Ocean Drive, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Florida 33308. (954) 492.0581.

While you are in Florida:

Review live theater in the Sunshine State,

its Museums and Galleries,

the work of Laura Mostaghel,

and the Florida Highwaymen,

as well as events on the Gulf Coast and in Orlando.


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