Complementing its original site at the Trop, A Time For Wine II recently opened at Caesars and offers some of the finest in wines, spirits, beers, cigars and nontraditional gift items.
ATLANTIC CITY — We should all be so fortunate as to gain a certain rite of passage allowing us to experience some of the finer things in life — a point at which picking up a six-pack of cheap suds and Swisher Sweets after work is no longer agreeable to our lifestyles.
Recognizing the need to afford quality to the common man (or woman), and not letting it just be a perk reserved for those owning luxury yachts, Learjets or Lamborghinis, A Time for Wine was created by Janet Markowitz and her business associates at the Tropicana in 2010. Much more recently, A Time for Wine II debuted on Caesars’ second level (near Mia restaurant), and while some of its inventory of over 1,000 different wines, 350 cigars, 200 liquors and 100 domestic and imported beers cater to those with deep pockets, most of it is surprisingly affordable.
“We kind of have the same philosophy as we do at the flower shop,” says Markowitz, a Margate resident who also owns Chester’s Plants & Flowers in Atlantic City, and is the volunteer chairwoman of the annual A.C. Boardwalk Rodeo. “Not everybody has a million dollars to throw a party, so our theme with our prices is that people will keep coming back if you keep them reasonable. And you know what? All the customers who come in point out that we’re not that expensive. We’re here for the long haul and we want the return business.”
A Time for Wine II conducted a three-evening wine and beer sampling in conjunction with the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival (July 26-29), and intends to host regular free-of-charge samplings during other future Caesars special events. One evening’s sampling included varieties of Castello Banfi wines from Italy, among them a Cabernet-Merlot-Sangiovese blend called Cum Laude, a Pino Grigio called San Angelo, and a sparking rosé called Rosa Regale. Banfi pioneered a grape-cloning technique that allowed it to spark a renaissance in Italian winemaking, and gain global recognition for quality since 1978.
Vittorio Vettori (left) and Dino Redzepi pour wine for guests during a recent sampling at A Time for Wine at Caesars.
“In the ’60s and ’70s the wine that came [to America] from Italy was very mediocre, in fact very poor,” says Vittorio Vettori, Banfi’s Mid-Atlantic regional manager. “So Banfi asked the question ‘How come France can produce such great Burgundy and Bordeaux, Germany such great Reisling, and even Switzerland great Pinot Noir? Why doesn’t Italy produce good wine? Back then Soave was everything that was white [from Italy] and Chianti was everything that was red. So [Banfi] invested millions of dollars in different grapes and vineyards, which back then meant you were either very naive or stupid [to invest in Italian winemaking] or you had a lot of love and passion in wine. Banfi had the love and passion.
“There are many great wines out there,” adds Vettori. “We don’t have the monopoly on great wines, but we are very proud of the ones we produce.”
A Time for Wine shares that love and passion, offering not just imports from Italy, France, Argentina and around the world, but several domestics from the California Napa Valley and locally with a special section just for New Jersey wines. They also have an extensive selection of high-end spirits like Gran Patron tequila and 25-year-old Glenlivit scotch, up to Louis XIII de Remy Martin cognac that brings a $2,750 price tag per bottle.
“Part of what drives the cost [of Louis XIII] up is that the Asian market for that particular cognac is unbelievable, so to try to get it is very difficult,” says Markowitz.
An entire wall is devoted to cigars, which are encased in nine temperature-controlled humidors and feature such brands as Romeo y Julieta, Cohiba, Julius Caesar, Partagás and the Alec Bradley Prensado, the top-rated cigar by Cigar Aficionado magazine. Some brands are packaged with the tips infused or marinated in sweet liquours, like a Grand Marnier-marinated cigar.
“We transformed the entire store in about two weeks [it was formerly a jewelry store that closed] and we used Spanish cedar for the cigar boxes,” says Markowitz. “One of our employees is currently taking his test to become a tobacconist, and eventually all of our employees will be taking their tests.
“We plan to do a lot of sampling [likely at Caesars’ Toga Bar on the first floor, where smoking is permissible], and in fact we’re going to do a Julius Caesar [cigar] red carpet event, which is a really big deal. Our suppliers tell us we have more cigar brands than any other place in South Jersey.”
Many of the top cigar brands A Time for Wine carries come from the Dominican Republic.
“Here’s something interesting,” says Markowitz. “Some of the best cigar wrappers in the world come from Connecticut and are shipped to the Dominican, and the Dominicans even transfer some of them to Cuba. And many of the Cubans themselves prefer Dominican cigars. Here in America Cuban cigars are considered the finest in the world [although illegal to sell or purchase], but there they prefer Dominican cigars.”
(Pictured right, from left) Jan Berman of Banfi Wines, Jerry Eisenband of Caesars and A Time for Wine owner Janet Markowitz attend a recent wine sampling.
The establishment’s extensive selection of bottled craft beers allows patrons to mix and match and construct their own six packs to go. If there is a particular beer — or wine or spirit, or cigar — that A Time for Wine does not have in stock, it will make every effort to find it in a timely fashion.
“There’s usually a diversified market [at any casino property] from those looking for the very affordable to the very expensive, and whatever they want you’ve got to try to get it for them,” says business partner Dino Redzepi. “We have an excellent selection, but if we don’t have it we can try to get it for you.”
“Things can be a bit disjointed when it comes to finding quality cigars, craft brews and fine wines, so putting them all in the same centrally located store, and in a place like Caesars that everybody knows where it is, just makes good sense,” says Caesars public relations manager Jerry Eisenband. “Plus the prices are reasonable.”
“Caesars couldn’t be more pleased to partner with such a unique amenity like A Time For Wine II and with a pillar of the Atlantic City community like Janet Markowitz,” says Caesars eastern division president Don Marrandino “Janet’s reputation in this region supersedes her — she’s a hard worker who wholeheartedly believes in this city. We’ve been working together on this concept since November 2011, so the fact that it has come to fruition is simply remarkable. They’ve transformed a previously unused space into is something truly special that will serve our customers proud.”
From Atlantic Club to Revel, the Boardwalk will be transformed into a seven-station wine garden for the DO AC Boardwalk Wine Promenade May 4-5.
Developed by the Atlantic City Alliance, the DO AC Boardwalk Wine Promenade will be a massive outdoor wine festival featuring 150 wines presented at seven destinations along the Boardwalk.
Culinary superstars are all aboard for annual Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival July 26-29
Laughing with George Lopez
Fight Night at Boardwalk Hall
Rush to the Taj