For years when I worked in Coral Gables I'd head north on LeJeune a couple of times a month to have a quick lunch and stroll the ridiculously narrow and crampped aisles of Best Time Wine. This shoebox of a wine shop on 8th St. a few blocks from LeJeune was probably the most atypical wine shop around. Compare it to Wolff's on Miracle Mile or Total Wine in NMB? No way. This place was not about presentation. It was about good wines at low prices.
Due to a run-in with the landlord, Best Time Wine closed up shop and moved a few miles west under the guise of Happy Wine. A little bigger space, but the same concept.
The man behind both of these establishments, Philippe Douriez, is taking a back seat to pursue other interests. I can't tell you what this guy has done for the wine scene in Miami. His specials are outrageous. It got to the point where my friends and I referred to him as "the back of the truck guy" because we figured that in order for him to sell at the prices he did, he had to get his inventory off the back of a moving truck. But it wasn't only the prices that had us going back. Best Time, and then Happy Wine, was a constant party. Go any time of the day or night and there are people eating, drinking, and sometimes dancing. And among them with the biggest smile is Phillippe either pouring someone another glass or making suggestions for bottles for an upcoming party. I'll miss Phillipe, but according to his goodbye, the staff at Happy Wine will continue the tradition. I wish them, and Phillipe, good luck and success and hope that the party won't end.