Gift baskets are always a popular holiday gift item, and the team at 88 Bottles – a new fine wine and gourmet food shop in Charlotte Amalie – makes putting together the perfect one seam effortless. Their products have been on full display for a few months now – were you wondering what the sign “Wine Tasting Inside” meant while driving down Main Street? – but the store launched fully Friday night with a grand opening ceremony downtown.
The idea, according to owner Max Daswani, emerged during the pandemic when his brother-in-law, who hoped to do something similar in his hometown in Nigeria, came for a visit. Counting corks and brainstorming at home, the family came up with 88, and the name 88 Bottles stuck.
“We wanted to do something different for the local community,” Daswani said. “Mostly, when you walk down Main Street, there’s nothing but jewelry, so we wanted to bring something very unique to the table.”
Unique doesn’t really cover the range of surprises in store, though. The shop, nestled in the back of Artistic Jewelers on Main Street, offers two brands of wine, which the family distributes exclusively across the country – one from Napa, California, and the other from France. Along with the bottles, wine candles, wine chocolates, and wine coffee are on sale, and in a basket, wine essentials for the connoisseur – aerators, for example – can also be added.
Truffle products also line the shelves, along with a line of handmade body scrubs infused with crystal properties.
“We’re constantly coming up with new ideas and items, and everyone has been coming in to see what we’ve got,” Daswani said, speaking about a rose that was offered for Cancer Support VI’s Pinktober campaign. At Friday’s grand opening, a vaccinated-only event that gave residents a chance to sample and reconnect, the store team was also offering a 20 percent off discount, with more events planned in the months ahead.
“It’s great for the holidays, but also for birthdays, special occasions, and anniversaries,” Daswani said. “The team is here every day, and if you stop in, we’ll see what we can put together for you.”