Wegmans groceries stores are always known to “give you their best.” What they also excel at is the ability to break down barriers between the scary and unknown, and give people chances to fully immerse themselves in all things food. Once you go down that rabbit hole, more than likely you’ll just keep on going.
Now while this post is very behind in being published, there still are some wonderful memories to share and also some wonderful concepts and ideas to take away. The Beer and Cheese Tasting Event at Wegmans Northborough Massachusetts store took place in August of 2012 and the Wine Event with an Entertainmeant focus took place in November of 2012 (see what I mean about behind)! The bottom line with these two events was that everyone in attendance got a chance to meet with experts in the field; whether it was Vermont Creamy and their various butters and cheeses, to beer artisans showcasing their crafts or even wine agents and representatives. Wegmans allowed you to taste and sample your way through tables, to find your matches, and to become more knowledgeable about the processes, areas crafted, and ingredients. Customers became educated to learn their likes, and to even take that knowledge on with them. The once scary barriers of buying craft beer or artisan cheeses became no more, instead it became an adventure in all things culinary.
It all started with successful weekly classes put on by this Wegmans store. Personally I was able to not only gain some wonderful friends, but also to go down that educational rabbit hole. First they started with the cheese classes, which were then later paired with wines or even beers. While I don’t drink, it was an amazing way for me to find flavor combinations- ones that could be used later in cooking or for a night of entertaining. In the past I had blown right by the cheese counter and avoided the alcohol section at all costs. Now I walk proudly up to the cheese counter, found out what’s new, where it came from and what more to expect. I can say the word charcuterie, and find pairings for my cheeses. I can even walk into a wine shop and be able to ask someone to help (I’m still lacking on education in this department). I was armed with just a little bit of knowledge, and became more excited about food- and of course a much more avid shopper.
The Beer and Cheese Tasting Event was their first event of this kind and magnitude at a Wegmans store. There were countless vendors from all over bringing forward some great beers, and Vermont Creamery who showcased their butters and goat cheeses. Wegmans even provided some fresh out of the oven pizzas and snacks to go with the beers. I think everyone was overwhelmed at just how many people showed up, and the overall success of the event. Most exciting for me was finding that Wegmans carried and was also giving tastings out that day of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. As I said before, I don’t do alcohol, but this beer in particular holds a very special place with me. It was at the 2010 World Equestrian Games that I met my longterm boyfriend, but also had an unforgettable couple of weeks. This ale was featured everywhere in Lexington and became a mainstay in our house, although previously you could never buy it outside the state of Kentucky (way to go Wegmans)!
My sister enjoyed spending time with me and walking around to taste test various beers. I was just reveling in the fact that Vermont Creamery who makes my most favorite butter in the world, Vermont Cultured Butter with Sea Salt was there to do different butter tastings, and a few cheeses.
The next major event this store put on was what I’ll call the Wine Extravaganze with an Entertainmeant focus. Taking place before the Thanksgiving holiday, the entire store was focused on what you could do to easily and effectively to entertain guests. Store demonstrations and samples included various centerpieces, table settings, a carving station to learn how to carve a turkey, different appetizers from sushi to cheese trays, and the main event which included a HUGE amount of wine tastings.
In order to keep everyone orderly, tasting cards were given after ID’s were checked so that everyone got to try what they wanted but also not to overdo it. There were a total of sixteen tables with four to six wines at each table. That’s an awfully lot of choices! I can’t say any particularly stood out to me, but it was wonderful to taste the slight variances between different varietals, where they’re grown and how they’re processed.
And lets not forget all the food samples and ideas for entertaining friends and family!
I really do admire the tenacity of Wegmans employees and corporate policies to allow for these types of events to take place. Free to the public, these events give customers a new education and a plethora of experiences. I found I made a lot more purchases, which is any store’s bottom line, but you go about creating a foundation for more insightful customers who can have fun and enjoy a wider culinary experience. If you live near a Wegmans, get yourself out on a Saturday when they do samples, but more importantly find out if they do any of these kinds of events. Enjoy yourself but also allow me to live vicariously through you though too!