What wine stores do you frequent? Which wine stores are in your neighborhood? What are their strengths? Whom should I seek for help at the stores? How do prices compare with elsewhere?
I regularly visit Wine Expo and The Wine House. The first is on the north side of Santa Monica Boulevard, roughly speaking, near Stanford Street. The wine freak who runs this store does so with unmatched energy and attitude. Talk to the big fellow obviously in charge. The staff fights to get its patrons the lowest prices on good Italian and sparkling wines, as well as the occasional bargain California and French wines. The e-mail newsletter comes out frequently--it's uproarious.
Wine House, on Cotner, just east of the 405 and south of Olympic, is better known. The store carries a wide array of reasonably priced wines, and if you buttonhole one of the buyers you may get some good advice on German riesling, French chenin blancs or some Hungarian tokai. This place also has a decent selection of books on wine and spirits, soda pops, cheeses and so on.
Occasionally I drop by Wally's, on Westwood just north of Olympic, which is especially good for French wine and tequila. Not cheap, but some of the staff members can be quite helpful. I was dismayed by the very small selection of German wines.
2311 Cotner, Los Angeles
2933 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica 90404
2107 Westwood Boulevard (north of Olympic, west side of street)