Jun. 27, 2012 - Issue #871: Edmonton 2012
Educating the masses
Co-op Wine and Spirits enhances the city's liquor landscape
It's nestled in the south end of the city, but Co-op Wine and Spirits' new 10 000 square foot centre has the variety to make it worth the trek.
This is the first Co-op Wine and Spirits store to open its doors in Edmonton, and inside is an overwhelming array of wine, beer and spirits. The store not only caters to a wide range of tastes, but also an equally large range in budgets, from $6 wines to vintage bottles worth more than $100.
Co-op may bring to mind images of grocery stores, but this monstrous retailer is far from that. An in-house sommelier is on-hand Tuesday through Saturday, as well as expertly-trained staff, to answer questions and help even the greenest of wine drinkers find something to fit their tastes.
"I think you can come here and get help from well-trained staff, but also you can come in here and you don't have to feel intimidated. We want people to get to know wine and to come in and not be afraid," says Co-op communications manager Cindy Drummond.
Winter Dzaman, senior wines and spirits manager, is working towards her sommelier status, as are the other store managers, and says customers should never be afraid to ask a question about wine, or think it's silly.
"This is how we educate ourselves," she adds "Don't think that wine is something snobby, or maybe it has to cost a lot to be outstanding. We deal with outstanding products in various price ranges. We are an everyday store for the everyday person, with a more than everyday selection."
The store is also equipped with a tasting bar and tasting room, which can be booked for private functions. The space will also host a variety of events starting in August. In Co-op's Calgary locations, Skype tastings have taken place, with wine experts from vineyards being able to interact electronically to offer guests a unique wine tasting experience they would have to travel to get otherwise.
Wine enthusiasts can also take part in the wine locker program, which is also a new concept to Edmonton. Dzaman explains that customers sit down with a sommelier to discuss their unique wine tastes, set a budget, and then on the first Friday of every month, their wine locker is filled with new selections to try. Often, wines selected for the lockers are not readily available on the store floor, and Dzaman notes this is an easy way to start building an at-home wine cellar.
"Some of our customers that have had it so far in Calgary say it's like Christmas every month," Drummond adds.
The vintage section lining one wall of the store houses collector's items and offers something more unique for special occasions.
"Most people, they buy a wine and they drink it right away. They haven't had a chance to really try aged wines that they are drinking at the appropriate times," says operations manager Dave Haluska, adding there's wines dating back to 1981 and a port from 1855.
If beer is more your thing, Co-op offers a beer passport program as well. There's a Beers of the World wall that stocks numerous varieties and flavours from around the world, in addition to domestic varieties and Co-op Gold, which Drummond says has become very popular.
Many of the international varities are sold as individual bottles, and Haluksa explains that when a customer buys a bottle, they get a stamp in a passport. Once this passport is filled with 48 stamps, customers receive a beer stein that's been imported from Europe and an entry into a trip given away annually to a beer destination. Past trips have included brewery tours in Germany and Huluska says they're currently working on Ireland.
Co-op Wine and Spirits
5962 Mullen Way
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