Pompette Wines & Spirits in Harlem

You might go into Pompette Wines & Spirits for a sweet red, but you’ll leave with much more than vino.

My first time at the Harlem back store, I was scouting it with Channing for an upcoming event. A small crowd was inside where pink balloons filled the air and covered the hardwood floors. It was one of many wine tastings offered. But this time, it was in celebration of a customer completing the Susan G. Komen 5K.

As the marathoner greeted customers, Mozel Watson, Pompette Wines & Spirits‘ co-owner, hosted. He was the DJ, toastmaster, and server filling everybody’s glasses for the festivity. And you will find that same hospitality at every wine tasting on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

I’ve been returning ever since. It’s not only for the Bully Hill Sweet Walter’s Red Wine that I can’t drink enough. But, also for the information Mozel shares every time I’m in the wine shop.

Now, I’m always up for reliving my study abroad days in Buenos Aires. So when he began talking about the history of Malbec wines in Argentina during a wine tasting, I was all for it. To hear him tell it, “that’s when Malbec became awesome.”

What’s even more impressive is the care that Mozel and his siblings show at the wine shop. On a chalk slate, each label corresponding to the producing country is handwritten. The same is true for the wine maker, wine, and price signs that hang on wire and mini clothes pins. Every paper bag is also hand-stamped bearing the wine glass logo in purple or green ink.

Named after the french word meaning tipsy, Pompette Wines & Spirits, doesn’t sell any mass produced wines. So if you go there (and I hope you do) and don’t see any familiar brands, don’t be alarmed. There’s a reason for that.

“Anything that is mass produced, it is not made with the same care and quality,” says Mozel. It makes sense to me, but I’ve never applied that thinking to the wines I drink. Have you?

That made me wonder, as someone who’s co-owned a wine shop for two years (woot woot!) how does he like his wine. The 29-year-old Harlem native said:

Pompette Wines & SpiritsBig Reds

“I’m not a fan of white wine. I drink a lot of red wine. One it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your skin and good for your eyes.”

Nothing Sweet 

“If it’s not naturally sweetened, it’s not good for you. If you add sugar to it, that’s the leading cause, especially for us, with diabetes. You don’t want that.”

Pompette Wines & SpiritsPompette Wines & SpiritsFull and Dirty

“I generally like fuller and darker wines. I like to call them dirty because you sort of get those barnyard, rustic, earth notes.”

Paired with Food

“You can have wine all day if you want. Drinking wine is one thing, but when you start to drink wine with food, it’s a whole other experience. It becomes a necessity.”

Do you see what I mean about the info? And it gets better.

Mozel and his partner, Joffrey Tilly, are set to open a wine bar this summer. It will be on the corner of Lenox Avenue just steps away from Pompette Wines & Spirits. I’m sure I’ll be there when it it opens so if you see me, say hey.

Visit Pompette Wines & Spirits at 420 Lenox Avenue Back Store. Also, follow them on Instagram and Twitter.