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Charlotte Amalie
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@Work: Marina Market Wine & Cheese

Dec. 28, 2008 — Lots of businesses that started in 2008 haven't survived to the end of the year, but Marina Market Wine & Cheese in Red Hook is thriving despite the economic downturn.
The store opened across the street from its namesake Marina Market in February, appealing to foodies with a variety of budgets and tastes, not just the big spenders.
"We've felt the market [downturn] a little, but didn't feel it a lot," manager Sue Stewart says. "We were so specialized in our niche that people still came."
For a small enterprise, the shop has an impressive inventory, including four of the top 100 wines as rated by Wine Spectator. Prices range from $8.99 all the way up to $999.00 for its most expensive bottle of champagne, a very rare 1995 Krug Clos du Mesnil.
The cheeses, which come from Europe and the United States, are priced for a variety of budgets. And while the main focus is wine, the shop sells a variety of wine utensils and gourmet items such as flavored olive oils, dried fruits and nuts, hostess items such as decorative cocktail napkins, and serving accessories.
The cost of the wine is not as important as the taste, Stewart says. Different people have different desires in what they want from a wine — some looking to find a match for a meal, some looking for a wine that fits their taste.
Stewart has invested a lot in her own credentials, with classes and trips to different wine-growing regions. Most recently she made a trip to California's Napa and Sonoma valleys, visiting more than 30 wineries in just two short weeks.
The most important thing she has learned is that you can't have a good wine without a good grape, and that there is always more to learn about wine.
Sommelier and co-worker Jackie Reilly admired Stewart's efforts at educating herself. Much of the success of the store is due to Stewart, according to Reilly.
"Sue has gone out of her way to learn about cheeses and wines," Reilly says. "She has come so far in a year. A lot of people don't take time to learn about a new position."
It is said that the mark of a good manager is the quality of the people that you hire to work with you. Working with Stewart is Linda Hantman, a wine-and-cheese retailer from California's wine country who has been in the wine-and-cheese retailing industry since 1997.
The store's top-selling wines by grape are its Sauvignon Blancs, followed by its Chardonnay's and Pinot Noirs, Hantman says.
She showed off both ends of the budget spectrum in the Pinot Noirs, from a Trapiche from Argentina that sells for just $9.99, up to a Kosta Brown from California that sells for $83.99.
Pink champagne or Rose Brut is the big thing for festive meals and parties this season, Stewart says. The market carries Moet & Chandon Rose Imperial, priced at $65.99. Domaine Carneros also makes a sparkling pink wine from California that sells for $47.99.
There are a number of champagnes in the shop in the $50 to $75 range, and Dom Perignon is priced at $175.
Top-selling cheeses include the Dutch Beemster, an aged cheese similar to an aged gouda. Hantman recommends pairing it with a red wine such as syrah or a zinfandel.
Saint Andre is another big seller, according to Hantman, who says the triple cream cheese pairs well with chardonnays and light reds.
Marina Market Wine & Cheese is open Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 8:30 p.m., and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more informatuon call 779-6198 or email the store.
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