Sherry-Lehmann Wine Shop Accused of Stiffing Customers
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‘Treated Us Like Idiots’: Customers Outraged After Iconic New York Wine Shop Allegedly Fails to Deliver $1 Million of Inventory


Expensive bottles of wine are seen for sale at Sherry-Lehmann wine store in New York, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Many residents in the Big Apple consider Sherry-Lehmann to be more than just a wine shop — it’s an institution with a sterling reputation that spans nearly a century for selling wines like Château Lafite Rothschild from Bordeaux and some spirits like Scotch producer, The Glenmorangie to its customers. That reputation is in question with recent accusations of the store failing to deliver nearly $1 million worth of purchased wine to customers, according to an article that ran Thursday in the New York Times.

The store has been accused of stiffing its customers on valuable inventory. One such example involves an invoice of $385,000 for bottles of 1995 Domaine de la Romanee Conti La Tache, a well-respected Burgundy producer.

The shop was founded in 1934 by two brothers, Sam and Jack Aaron.  Jack was a purported bootlegger during prohibition according to The Grey Journal, and had experience bringing French wines to the United States. One of the store’s early consultants was James Beard, and the shop rose to prominence by shaping customers’ palates and introducing them to producers like Dom Perignon Champagne in 1946. Sherry-Lehmann had more than its fair share of high-profile devotees and catered to famous patrons like Greta Garbo throughout the decades.

Sherry-Lehmann has been the recipient of media attention earlier this year due to its liquor license expiring according to an article in the New York Post. The wine shop also owes the state of New York $2.8 million in unpaid taxes. In addition to battling heavy employee turnover and a shrinking inventory due to an inability to pay wholesalers, the most recent accusations of the luxury wine purveyor have stemmed from its customer base.

Two of Sherry-Lehmann’s longstanding customers and wine collectors, Raymond Fong and Pak Chung, had bought Bordeaux futures from the shop for years. Purchasing wine futures or buying “en primeur,” offers buyers the opportunity to purchase wines at a lower cost, while still in barrel, before the vintage is released according to Wine Enthusiast. One of the reasons for these slightly lowered prices is that the wines have not been bottled or scored yet.

Fong and Chung were well-initiated to purchasing wines en primeur, and their purchases included cases from extravagantly-priced Classified Growths such as Châteaux Margaux and Châteaux Mouton Rothschild. Both buyers were accustomed to waiting a bit for their wines to arrive, but after waiting for nearly eight years they demanded an audience with the CEO and Co-Owner of the store, Shyda Gilmer, to ask for their money back.

“He treated us like idiots,” Mr. Chung said after Gilmer apparently yelled at them and called them stupid.

Gilmer and former hedge fund executive Kris Green, have been accused of “frequently snatch[ing] booze from the shelves as they went out to dine at swanky eateries nearby such as Nobu 57, La Gloulule and The Post House,” according to an article in the New York Post which ran December.

Longtime employee, Peter Ambrosino, quit his 15-year tenure as director of operations in 2018. When asked about his resignation, Ambrosino stated the following to the New York Times:

“I was tired of seeing good people being ripped off,” he said, “A great institution has been flushed down the toilet.”

Another notable departure from the wine purveyor was when Sherry-Lehmann’s co-owner Michael Aaron, whose father founded the company, left the institution in 2014.

“The adult was gone, and it was time to party,” Michael Aaron concluded.

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Cynthia Mersten is a writer/editor for Whiskey Raiders and has worked in the Beverage Industry for eight years. She started her career in wine and spirits distribution and sold brands like Four Roses, High West and Compass Box to a variety of bars and restaurants in the city she calls home: Los Angeles. Cynthia is a lover of all things related to wine, spirits and story and holds a BA from UCLA’s School of Theatre, Film and Television. Besides writing, her favorite pastimes are photography and watching movies with her husband.