I left off last week saving money at the Lolos and gelato stall in Grand Case with the intention of splurging on a bottle or two of wine, always a good trade-off in my book. The rooms at the Grand Case Beach Club, discussed last week, all have kitchens and refrigerator, so bringing in provisions is a wise and cost effective way of stretching your travel budget. And besides, what could be better than a bottle of bubbly on the beach?

If you’re stocking up on food for a meal you would be remiss in not adding a few bottles of wine to your list. In the past there were some issues, primarily with temperature control, that made buying fine wine in the Caribbean a bit of a risk, but the many fine distributors and retailers now selling wine on St. Martin have made finding a special bottle a breeze.

In next week's email: The finest restaurants of Grand Case!

Find Great Supermarkets too

While you're driving around St. Martin, whether to visit the beaches, casinos, or wine shops, leave some time for a visit to the supermarket. Match, on the outskirts of Marigot, is a great market with everything you need to fix up a light snack or gourmet meal. The deli counter is well stocked with fine French cheeses (even raw-milk cheeses that are banned in the U.S), ham and sausages, and the vast selection offers treats that range from Mediterranean Tuna to canned cassoulet! Remember to stock up on water too, the selection of still and sparkling waters is second to none. You can even pick up a bottle or two of wine from their selection, though you can find better options around the island.

Wine and food seal the deal

Bacchus
Tucked away in an industrial/commercial complex close to Grand Case, Bacchus is both a wine shop, and a gourmet winebar. While only open for lunch, and while I did not stop in for a meal (the food at Bacchus is impressively priced) I hear it’s quite good. I stopped into to Bacchus to take a look at their wine selection and I was shocked, shocked I tell you to find such an impressive collection of fine wines.

Le Chanteclair
Several miles from grand Case one comes to the Capital of the French Side of the Island: Marigot. This wonderful little harbor side town has several good restaurants, Le Chanteclaire in the Harbor is special and worth a detour. A lovely view, excellent food, and a dessert with no name (it's unnamable!) make any meal here memorable.

Each of the many wine shops of St. Martin need something to set them apart, since all the super-markets have a serviceable selection of wines.  The new wine shop Bacchus, located near the Grand Case airport, not really as near as one might imagine though, is one of the finest shops on the Island.

Tucked away in an industrial/commercial complex close to Grand Case, Bacchus is both a wine shop and a gourmet winebar. While only open for lunch, the food at Bacchus is impressively priced, and while I did not stop in for a meal I hear it’s quite good. I stopped into to Bacchus to take a look at their wine selection and I was shocked, shocked I tell you to find such an impressive collection of fine wines, and due to the crowds, I visited on New Years eve, I didn’t even get a chance to visit their reserve room!

To begin with, the Champagne selection at Bacchus certainly has no equal on the Island. Pol Roger, Perrier-Jouet, and Bollinger are particularly well represented among the shelves, not that that is a problem! In fact Bollinger is so well represented that one can even find the ultra rare still red La Côte aux Enfants, which I am sad to say I passed on this time around, but it will top my list for my next visit to Bacchus, and I have no doubt that a follow up visit is in the cards.

I’ll have to have a bite to eat as well as I hear the private tasting events are among the best in the Caribbean and I’m planning to bring a group of food and wine lovers down to St. Martin for a long, indulgent week later in the year. This is the kind of research I can get used to!

Several miles from grand Case one comes to the Capital of the French Side of the Island: Marigot. This wonderful little harbor side town has several good restaurants, Le Chanteclair in the Harbor is special and worth a detour. If you take the time to come into town to shop for wine make a half-day of it and stop in for dinner. If Le Chanteclair is too much for you, there are perfectly good pizzas and salads available from the restaurants that ring the harbor.  The Brasserie de la Gare has always been fine and welcoming.

Of course the real reason for any trip into marigot is the mandatory stop in at the Match Super Marche for it’s brilliant selection of Ham, cheese and fresh seafood and then on for  the wines. There are two wineshops in Marigot worth taking a look at.

The first, Vinissimo, is a small affair with quaint locking metal bins that hold some precious bottles indeed. If you are looking for d’Yquem and DRC this is the place to check out. While the wines are among the best in the world, and priced accordingly, there have been deals to be had on them at Vinissimo. That’s not to say that the selection is all high end here.

Also in town is the Le Gout de Vin shop. Significantly larger than Vinissimo, Le Gout de Vin offers an excellent selection that may not hit the highs of Vinissimo, but will serve a much broader base, though the truth is no one will leave unsatisfied. The selection here is broad ,with offerings that may seem more typical to an American’s eyes but the shelves here are carefully stocked with a solid selection of wines and spirits.

  If you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path you don’t have to travel too far. Several miles beyond Marigot and on the Dutch side, or St. Maarten as it’s known, you can find the relatively new Corks and Screws wine shop. Though the selection may appear modest there are some bargains to be had.  During my visit I took note of well priced bottles of Ferrari sparkling wines from Italy (among my favorites!) as well as 2004 Felsina Fontalloro. In addition I was surprised to see well-priced bottles of back vintage Bordeaux, such as 1981 Cos d’Estournel and 1983 Lafite, nestled between the Chablis and the rose.  Anyone looking to drink well on St. Martin, or St. Maarten, should stop by for a visit.

I enjoyed several bottles of wine on my terrace back in Grand Case, and watching the sun set with a glass of fine in one’s hand is just about as good as life gets.  Next week I’ll wrap up my report on St. Martin with a last look as some of my favorite restaurants in grand Case. If you want to experience St. Martin with me, drop me a line and get on the mailing list for the Snooth food and wine adventure coming this May, and don't miss next week's email as I reports on visits to the best restaurants of Grand Case.