Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 40
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Coldwell Banker Princeton Office

Prudential Fox and Roach, Realtors

Gloria Nilson GMAC Real Estate

Henderson Sotheby's International Realty

N.T. Callaway Princeton Office

Stockton Real Estate, LLC

Weichert, Realtors

Advertise in Town Topics

Iris Interiors

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Weather Forecast

It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton

WINES OF CHOICE: “When we select wines, we’re looking for great value. We offer great wine for the money. And we stay focused on smaller wineries.” Beth and Mark Censits, owners of CoolVines, the specialty wine shop, are shown in their new Spring Street location.

Popular CoolVines Specialty Wine Shop Moves to New Spring Street Location

“People are generally in a good mood when they come here. They may be planning a special dinner or having a party. Also, they like to have a personal experience when they come. We enjoy spending time with customers, explaining about the different wines.”

Mark Censits, owner of CoolVines, the popular specialty wine shop, looks forward to introducing even more customers to the wide variety of wines available in the shop’s location in the new building at 21 Spring Street.

“We are the first retail tenant and just arrived in September from our previous location at 344 Nassau Street, and we already have new customers in addition to our many regulars. What a difference it has made to us to have more room. We have three times the space we had before, and we added 250 new bottles. We have also added a special section with a regional cru selection — that is, wines from designated regions that are higher end, age-worthy wines.”

Mr. Censits had definite ideas about the design of the shop and how he wanted to present the wine. Wines are organized by type, color, and body (light, medium, full) in straight-forward groupings. Descriptive cards about each wine are immediately visible to advise customers.

Diverse Array

As Mr. Censits points out, “Wines are arranged by how they taste rather than by country or grapes. This offers even wine novices ease in finding the best selection for their needs and taste in a friendly, non-intimidating atmosphere. There are so many good wines today, and we try to make it as easy as possible for people.

“We’ll give descriptions, such as ‘a full-bodied traditional red, with a lot of character’ or ‘a crisp, refreshing white’ to help them out. We try to bring in interesting wines, and we offer a very diverse array of wine, each of which is a good example of its type.”

The selection offers wine from all over the world, including France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S., among other areas.

Customers in Princeton appreciate this, notes Mr. Censits. “Princeton is a great place to do business. It’s a very eclectic community; it’s more international, and there is a lot of interest in wine. We have a pretty adventurous customer base, and they’re willing to explore and try new wines.

Organic Wine

“We have a selection of organic wines and also bio-dynamic wines from the Robert Sinskey winery in Napa, as well as others. Bio-dynamic is a method that creates very healthy grapes and a taste that is more specific.”

Mr. Censits points out that all the wines at CoolVines have been tasted by his team of experts to ensure quality, and that the store is temperature-controlled.

Choice of wine can be seasonal, he adds, with white especially popular in summer. “There was also a lot of interest in rosé this summer, and now, in cooler weather, people tend to want richer red wines.”

Sparkling wines are in demand all the time, he says, and the shop has a full selection of those.

In addition, although the focus of CoolVines is wine, there is a selection of craft beers and small-batch spirits, including organic choices. “The craft beers are from smaller specialty breweries from Belgium, Germany, and the U.S., such as Stone in Oregon,” reports Mr. Censits.

There is a wide range of prices, from $9 on up.

Wine accessories include a variety of glasses, martini shakers, corkscrews, and cheese spreaders. An assortment of gift wine cooler “baskets” can include one or three bottles of wine, special chocolate, and cookies, and is a great gift item. More gift ideas are always available.

Local Community

Opening CoolVines in 2008 (there is also another store in Westfield) represented a career change for Mr. Censits, who holds an MBA and whose background was in the corporate world. “I had to travel a lot,” he explains, “and I decided I wanted a change. I wanted to have my own business, and I love wine. I was inspired to be part of the local community. I’m from Princeton, and I wanted to open here.”

He couldn’t be more pleased with that decision. He is now president of the Princeton Merchants’ Association, and he enjoys time spent with customers, as well as with the wine makers he has come to know.

A grand opening was held October 1, and the store also offers private wine tastings, as well as complimentary wine tastings every Wednesday (5 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and Saturday (2 to 5). In addition, a regular newsletter is emailed to customers.

“I like being part of the local business community,” says Mr. Censits, “and I like to collaborate with the local businesses. I especially enjoy talking with customers about which wines complement foods, and I continue to learn about wine every day.

“Also, I want customers to know that there is 30 minutes free parking at the Spring Street garage. It only takes 10 minutes to come in and get a bottle of wine!”

CoolVines is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 a.m., Friday and Saturday 10 to 10, Sunday 12 to 7. (609) 924-0039. Website:

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