Personally, I love "Total Wine". Don't get me wrong, I absolutely 100% support all your local wineries. But let's face it - there are THOUSANDS of wines out there from HUNDREDS of regions around the world. What's a wine drinker to do?
Part of the joy and fun of drinking wine is getting a chance to taste a "food" produced around the world in many unique styles. This is also the biggest challenge of wine retailers. However, "Total Wine & More" distributors really find a good way to capture your attention.
On a recent visit to Tampa, Florida, I finally got an opportunity to walk into an actual "Total Wine" store. Here's what I found:
An explanation of almost each wine, separated by region and style, with some highlighted points. The example here ("highest quality Beaujolais") is welcoming towards those consumers that would otherwise skip over regions in France. Most Americans are familiar with Beaujolais Nouveau that comes out every November, but the region, Beaujolais, has lost some steam in our market place. Here, "Total Wine" not only gives you the typical Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator information, but they also include personal preferences, extra consumer-friendly information, and highlighted points to help you make a selection.
Please also note the incredible pricing. I bought one of the last bottles of a Burgundian wine labeled "the best example of Burgundy" (in the $20 range). I asked myself - why not? :)
Actual photos of the individual wineries/chateaus and photos of the winemaking staff. This really gave me a feeling that the distributor was very much involved in picking the wines. As a consumer, I really appreciate this and I think it makes approaching employees there that much easier.
Please also note the photo of one of the workers (at the bottom of this photo). That wine was one of his favorites. Good to know, as most of us make our wine selections off of someone's suggestion!
Nicely piled bottles, adequate information, and special temperature/humidity controlled storage rooms for those high end wines (shown here). This is how wine is supposed to be stored. I should note that when you walked into this store, the temperature was adequately chilly, ensuring that the wines are not stored too hot, which ruins them for your consumption.
Not a wine drinker? OK! Several aisles were designated towards craft microbrews and spirits of all kinds! I loved watching customers in this store - people were actually talking about trying new things and specific flavors associated with their beverages. It made me feel like wine was just a bit less taboo than I usually feel these days...
Best part of leaving the store? Grabbing a "Buying Guide" on the way out. If you've never gotten one of these, you are really missing out! The guide is filled with tiny explanations and wines/beers of all price points. You can't go wrong here - there's something for everyone!