Winemag Winemag Illustration by Eric DeFreitas

Most of us have a “white whale” wine, the bottle we’ve been searching for. Wine Enthusiast can’t guarantee that any of the shops listed here will have yours, but we can promise that they’ll offer a friendly search experience with plenty of tantalizing diversions.

Compass Wines

Anacortes, WA

compasswines.com

While this shop carries hard-to-find bottles from around the world, its specialty—a true rarity in the rare wine world—is those from small Washington State producers that are all but impossible to find. The shop’s vermouth collection also holds some gems.

Flickinger Wines

Chicago

flickingerwines.com

Selections here include usual suspects like Port, Bordeaux and Burgundy, in addition to rare bottles from Lebanon, Australia and Argentina. The store’s selling point is minimal mark-up, and inventory is updated every 30 minutes during business hours to minimize the heartbreak of going to order a bottle only to find it’s already been snatched up.

A rare bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti was the most expensive bottle ever sold, for more than $500,000.

Sherry-Lehmann Wine & Spirits

New York City

sherry-lehmann.com

This store has a long history: Founder Jack Aaron sold whiskey during Prohibition. He went legit and opened this shop after repeal, in 1934. His brother, Sam, joined the business and became close friends and co-authors with culinary pioneer James Beard. Today, the shop continues to offer hard-to-find wines. Check out the “Last Bottles” section for bargains.

Wally’s Wine & Spirits

Los Angeles

wallywine.com

Find all your heavy-hitters here: California cult wines, 50-year-old Bordeaux, rare Burgundy, the best of Champagne and beyond. This shop specializes in bottles that will make your collector friends gasp, plus whiskeys to match.

Zachys

Scarsdale, NY

zachys.com

While its auction business is world-famous for tracking down rare bottles and dusty, century-old crates, its retail wing is no slouch when it comes to sought-after selections. Find great deals on 100-point wines, listed right alongside $30-and-under offerings.