North Charles Fine Wine & Spirits

North Charles Fine Wine and Spirits is a liquor and wine store on Charles St. next to Eddie’s Grocery Store. The address is 6213a N. Charles St.

I used to only go there because it was convenient. It seemed overpriced to me and it catered to a very high end clientele, many of whom didn’t think twice about buying and drinking a $50 bottle of wine or a $200 bottle of Scotch.

Right now funds are a little tight so we are a bit more frugal than that. For everyday wine and cooking we get box wines. There are some good ones out there. One day I noticed that there box wine prices were several dollars lower than the discount wine store where we had been buying our box wine. That doesn’t seem like much but that was 20% or more cheaper. That is significant.

Eddie’s had a major overhaul with all new decor. Since the wine store is right next door, they were done over at the same time. They came up with a new system that is pretty nice.

On the lowest shelf are $10 bottles of wine. On the next shelf up are $15 bottles of wine. On the next shelf are $20 bottles and above that are $25 bottles. You don’t have some at $14 and some at $16 and $18. It makes selection very easy.

In speaking with the manager he said that a year or so ago they decided to drop their prices and make it up on volume. I now find that their prices are very competitive.

You probably get better prices on some of the bottles and a bit worse on others but it all balances out and makes selecting wine easier.

They also usually have a wine or two open every day for tasting and frequently one of the bottles is fairly expensive. There is a shorter guy whose palate I don’t always agree with. However there are a couple of other guys who seem to nail what I like.

And, if you need a wine as a pairing for a certain food, they usually have great suggestions. We wanted a wine to pair with an oyster stew and I was thinking a Muscadet. They suggested a Cremant sparkling wine (methode champenoise) that was absolutely perfect.

Another time I was looking for a wine to pair with a dessert that included marzipan. I was thinking a sauternes. They agreed in general but suggested a wine of the same style but from Bonnezeaux in the Loire Valley made from Chenin Blanc. They suggested it for two reasons. It is very good but doesn’t have the outrageous prices that the Sauternes do. Second is that is has a bit of a nutty flavor that would pair well with the almonds in the dessert. It was spectacular.

So drop in some time and check them out and see what you think.


Ayd Hardware

Ayd Hardware is a classic neighborhood hardware store. It is closer than Home Depot or Lowe’s for many people and you get much better service.

We had occasionally used it, but tended to go to Stebbins Anderson in the Shops at Kenilworth. They usually had the odd little things that we needed that you either couldn’t find at Home Depot or had to buy way more of than you needed.

Appropriate Sizes

For example, we recently needed some window glazing compound. The small, pint or half pint size we had had lasted and been used for years. There was so little left that it dried out and we needed some more. Home Depot no longer carries that small size and so we had to pay for a tub that was at least the size of a quart or perhaps a half gallon. That will last us for decades if not centuries. We will be willing it to our children. Why don’t they carry smaller sizes?

In any case, once Stebbins Anderson closed down it hardware section, we started going to Ayd Hardware. Great little place and more convenient than Stebbins was, at least for us.

Wide selection and Specialized Items Available

What was nice about Stebbins and is nice about Ayd is that for screws and bolts and nuts you can get exactly what you need and they don’t come in prepackaged plastic packages. Plus they have sizes that the large stores don’t carry.

Great Service

And service! The people there are knowledgeable and can help you with whatever you need, give you tips on how to do things to make the job easier, or make suggestions that you wouldn’t have thought of.

For example, if you need glass, they will cut you the size you need. If they have a scrap piece left over from cutting a larger sheet, they will see if they can cut your piece from that so you don’t have to pay as much. Its exactly the same glass, so they aren’t substituting something cheaper.

If you have a window pane that is a circle or has a curved edge, they can cut that as well.

So if you live anywhere near Stoneleigh, check them out. They are at 6801 York Rd. and their phone is 410-377-0220.