We'll admit it: Large wine shops with a warehouse's worth of inventory can be more than intimidating.
Fortunately, there are also such boutiques as MCF Rare Wine, a tiny gem of a shop new to the West Village.
Matt Franco runs a strict one-man show, simultaneously assuming the roles of owner, buyer and sales staff. He personally tastes and handpicks bottles from some of Europe's top independent and artisanal producers. What results is the kind of old-fashioned consultation experience we thought had died out years ago.
We asked Franco for two of his current favorites:
2006 Guido Marsella Fiano di Avellino ($20 for 750 ml) Typically, Fiano is associated with medium-bodied whites with great acidity and tropical flavors. This one, though, is clean, structured and a fine example of how well such wines age. It offers colorful fruit flavors accompanied by a wild, smoky note.
2009 Bernabeleva Navaherreros Tinto Garnacha de Bernabeleva ($22 for 750 ml) From the recently rediscovered appellation Vinos de Madrid comes this delightful red made entirely of Garnacha. It shows clean, pure red fruits, a touch of savory and spicy notes and great balancing acidity.
MCF Rare Wine, 237 W. 13th St. (between Seventh and Eighth aves.); 212-255-8870 or mcf-rarewine.com