Total Wine and More–Not Just a Liquor Store

Pretty Poetic Title. Am I right?

Everyone in South Florida knows that Total Wine & More is a great place to shop for Beer, Spirits and Wine. I’d have preferred they called it Total Beer and More, but that’s just me. The variety of products, great prices, regular tastings and knowledgeable, friendly staff are just the beginning, too.

Total Wine offers regular educational opportunities for their customers as well. You know, the fun kind of education. Not geometry and grammar, though those are two of my interests. But I’ll save that for another time. Yes, Total Wine offers beer classes, wine tastings with the actual wine makers, whiskey classes with specialists in the business and everything in between. Got a Tequila fetish? This is your store!

For a nominal fee, usually between $15 and $25, consumers can attend one of these events. They are conveniently scheduled, regular events, too, and often they are happening at multiple locations simultaneously so you have your choice. I’ve personally been to a few of their classes. First, Whiskeys Around the World presented by a Senior Master of Whiskey and more recently one called Bourbon Essentials, in addition to a few beer events which I just assumed you knew. I learned a lot. They were very interesting, fun, nice to meet other people, enjoyable experiences. We were able to sample a variety of products, selected for quality and value, and even get some coupons to use afterward.

My wife and a friend just signed up for a Wine Class called Malbec and Other Sexy Wines of South America. And I heard the store manager just yesterday talking about Single Malt Scotch and Tequila classes coming up soon. With 9 local South Florida stores, you will surely have no problem finding something that interests you too. Pick a store and check out their calendar.

I recently asked Greg Tuttle, Total Wine’s Product Education Manager, based out of their Corporate office in Potomac, MD, a few questions. If you have your own questions, Greg is on Twitter, and he or his staff will be happy to get you some answers about their educational series. Plus he’s pretty cool. You might even bump into him one day. For real, I did. And don’t think I’m being a dick with my questions. I just wanted to play Devil’s Advocate and get the real scoop.

Total Wine's Greg Tuttle and Rob Hill


Me: Why go to the trouble of organizing educational classes for your customers? It seems like a lot of work for not a lot of money. Are you just trying to get a few more customers into your store?

Greg: We believe that knowledgeable customers are the best customers. At Total Wine & More, with our wide selection of wines, beers, and spirits, we have an opportunity to engage with customers in educational environments where we can share some of the breadth of our product portfolio. Customers can taste and learn in a relaxed atmosphere, and expose their palates to products and flavors they may never have otherwise tried.

Me: How do you make sure your presenters are ready for an enthusiastic and well-versed audience? What type of training do you make sure your employees or guest presenters have beforehand? How do you ensure they are qualified?

Greg: Indeed our audiences are enthusiastic, but their level of knowledge spans the spectrum from beginner to expert. Thus, we tailor the classes down the middle, so there is something for everybody including tasting a new product they’ve never tasted before, and/or learning something new about wine, beer or spirits that they did not previously know. Our area vice presidents and district managers select the class presenters for each store based on the presenters’ exhibiting core subject matter knowledge and presentation skills.

This is where I tried to zing him, LOL: How do you select the products that will be tasted? Do you just pick a handful of beers that are average and not selling well?

Greg: For beer classes, we first determine a set of class themes for the year, aiming to cover a wide spectrum of customers interests and previous beer knowledge, and then within each theme certain beer styles are selected to match that theme. Beer selections are challenging because availability of beer differs from one state to the next and from one market to another within the state. Typically, class presenters are given a list of beers for each beer style covered from which they can chose what to feature in their class based on availability in their store. They are also allowed to feature locally produced beers that may not be on the list.

Me: Is there anything else about Total Wine’s educational series that you think is very important or interesting?

Greg: Our product education series is constantly expanding and evolving. New classes are introduced each year, while prior favorites are updated and included in the roster. A person who attends each class offered, be it wine, beer, or spirits, will in a year’s time be exposed to an incredibly wide sampling of the varietals and styles available to him/her.

Me (trying for the Krabby Patty Formula): Are there any secret surprises we can look forward to in S. Florida in the coming months?

Greg: No “secrets” up our sleeves right now, but I suggest your readers follow our Twitter accounts (@TWMBeer and @Totalwine) and on Facebook for updates.

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