Photo credit: Erin Cooper Photography

Issa Khoury is no stranger to the wine business and his local retail shop, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, is about to celebrate its 16-year anniversary in September. Khoury’s is one of the few retailers who also provides customers with the opportunity to enjoy wines by the glass and craft beer on tap with a rotating seasonal menu that is sure to keep your palate refreshed and your mind intrigued. 

We recently partnered with Khoury’s in promoting wine pairing kits featuring DIY pastries by Cookies & Cocktails, as well as DIY air plant terrariums by The Potted Turtle. In collaborating with local businesses, our hope was to introduce consumers to new wines while participating in fun and safe activities at home. We recently caught up with Khoury to discuss current consumer trends, as well as his perspective on what might lie ahead. 

Why did you decide to open Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits? 

I grew up working and spending a lot of time in my parents’ retail businesses in Northern Nevada. I moved to Las Vegas to study at UNLV and after graduating, I worked for one of the local liquor distributors.  While working at the distributor, I also studied to become a sommelier which helped open my eyes to all these great brands and styles that I felt got lost in the big retail shops. I believed there was an opportunity for a bottle shop to do well while focusing on these unique wines, specialty spirits and craft beers.

What has been the most exciting or interesting thing you’ve learned about your customers and your business since COVID-19 began impacting Nevada?

A pleasant surprise was the overwhelming amount of support we got from the local community. We had so many of our regulars, friends, and even people who have never been in our shop, reach out to place orders for delivery or curbside just because they wanted to support a local business.   

As the Stay at Home Order has continued, have your customers become more adventurous with their wine selections or do they tend to purchase brands they are already familiar with? Why do you think that is? 

At the beginning of the Stay at Home Order, when customers were not allowed in the shop, we were asked a lot for recommendations. In fact, there were many times our clients would put their faith in us to pick out their entire order for them. We had a lot of fun with that, being able to introduce new labels, varieties and styles to our customers. 

Which varietals have been the most popular and why? 

Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Blends and Chardonnay are still the king of wine sales; however, we have seen a huge increase in interest for organic, natural and orange wines. (Note: Orange wine is a type of white wine made by leaving the grape skins and seeds in contact with the juice, creating a deep orange-hued finished product.)

What has been the most surprising buyer behavior during the Stay at Home Order? 

Everyone seems to have turned into a bartender while at home. Items such as Campari, Vermouth, Bitters, Amaro and other fun ingredients have increased in sales with customers trying to recreate the bar experience at home.  

With many people taking their activities outdoors, what have recent consumer reactions been to canned wines and tetra packs? Have they become more widely accepted? 

Canned wines seem to be on the same sales path as screw-top wines were years ago. In theory, canned wines make a lot of sense, but consumers need to be educated on the benefits. Our sales for canned wines have not increased at the rate we had hoped, but over time I think they will, just as screw-top wines eventually did.

We noticed that you have been featuring pairing kits in connection with local businesses. What inspired these kits?

We would not be here if it wasn’t for the support of our community; therefore, we love teaming up with other local businesses and organizations to bring fun, creative experiences to our customers.

How has the consumer response been to the pairing kits?

Luckily, the response has been great! Some of the kits sell out almost as soon as we post them.

What has been your favorite pairing so far and why?

That’s a hard question to answer. We enjoy all the kits, and they each have a certain following amongst our clientele. I would say the Happy Ending Ice Cream Taco and Craft Beer Kit has been the one that customers ask us about the most. 

What are some additional pairing kit ideas that you might be interested showcasing in the future?

We are always looking for new, creative ideas. We would love to offer more virtual tastings with winemakers, distillers and brewers. A collaboration with a local chef would be fun.

How can customers find out more information about Khoury's and the kits you offer?

We try to be very interactive using our social media outlets such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We also send out emails updating customers on our weekly events.

Khoury’s Fine Wine and Spirits

9915 S Eastern #110

Las Vegas, NV 89183

702-435-9463 (WINE)