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It's not often that I find myself with free time on a Saturday afternoon, but a recent Saturday found me with an empty calendar.  A happy coincidence found good friend, Chris Fairchild (Wine Manager at Total Wine in St. Petersburg) teaching an introductory  class on Bourbon.  How could I resist an opportunity to step outside of my wine 'box' and learn something new about a topic I know virtually nothing about.

Stepping into the classroom at Total Wine, takes me back to my Sommelier School Days.  Long tables covered with white paper (in order to get a sense of the true colors of the beverage being sampled), set with water, pens, spill buckets, tasting mats, class materials, and of  course the best part, lots of glasses to be filled.

Although the  classroom seems very serious, and almost intimidating, once class started all of that was forgotten, as  Chris launched into his presentation and the first flight of four Bourbon's was poured (a total of 8 Bourbons were tasted).  Immediately the room began to fill with aromas of vanilla, caramel, honey, oak, and  cedar.  
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I have long been a fan of  comparative tastings with wine, in my opinion the very best way to learn about wine and expand your palate.  I found the Bourbon tasting at Total Wine to be no different.  Tasting Bourbons at several price points ranging from $12 to $30 plus, is a great way to get a sense for the different qualities and subtle differences that make up one of America's  classic spirits.
Chris has a great calm and friendly demeanor that makes the topic very approachable and although extremely knowledgeable (and certified) presented the class without any trace of a condescending tone, that is sometimes all too prevalent in the beverage industry.

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At $25 per class session, this is a great affordable way to learn about wine, beer or spirits in a non crowded,  classroom setting.  The calendar for  classes may be found on the Total Wine website at www.totalwine.com.  

I should also mention that Total Wine has several option to build custom tastings for your events under the "Book Our Room" category.   The next time you want to learn something new, give them a call!

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