About Us

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Merit Fine Wine & Liquor is an independently owned shop specializing in quality wines, craft beer and high end spirits. Our selection is hand­picked after our trained staff tastes and evaluates every prospective brand we purvey. If we don’t find that a particular bottle meets our standards, you won’t find it on our shelves. We strive to provide limited, hard to find whiskey and scotch, exciting new wines and classic favorites while our beer is delivered in small orders and stored cold to insure freshness.

The business was originally located at 571 Bloomfield Ave and established in 1918 as Franzblau’s Delicatessen Wines & Liquors. During prohibition they continued as a deli and soda pop shop but were rumored to be bootlegging out of the building’s basement until the ban lift in 1933. In 1948 the business changed hands over to the Bloome family whose son purchased the store after returning from World War II. It was then the business adopted the Merit Wine & Liquor name. The store was successful throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and was a favorite spot among Montclair State University students. Merit was then acquired by a small group of beatnik poets and artists in the early 1980’s. Under their ownership the store became a “Fine Wine” shop specializing in rare and vintage French wines and champagne. For the next decade Merit Fine Wine was regarded for having the best selection of French wines in all of New Jersey and enthusiasts traveled from around the Tri­State area to procure hard to find bottles. The next owner, Jim O’Hannigan, ran the store for another decade and was know as the “Talking Bird Man” for the large macaw he kept on the counter that mimicked the store’s patrons. Though a novel and memorable mascot, the giant bird was known more for its odor than its conversation…

Merit finally found its way into the hands of current owners Lee and Kim Cheung in 2005. Rutgers and MSU alums, respectively, the entrepreneurial couple set out on their next venture with little experience in the wine and spirits business and the initial years were fraught with folly and frustration. Taking matters into her own hands, Lee enrolled in courses at the American Sommelier Association in New York City. With a certification, newfound love of the juice and a better understanding of the wines in her selection, Lee returned the business to its former reputation, deserving of the “Fine Wine & Liquor” moniker. In 2012, one week before hurricane Sandy flooded the building and many other nearby businesses, the store’s location moved fortuitously to its present location at 599 Bloomfield Ave. Here at Merit we are dedicated to customer service, experience, atmosphere and hope to continue filling your glasses with the finest drinks, drams and drafts for 100 more years to come!