When one thinks of France 44, a giant liquor and cheese store on the border of Minneapolis and Edina, the words “cheap,” “deal,” or “free” are not the first that come to mind. France 44 is after all, nearly in Edina, the land of cake and daily attention.* They carry tons of high-end alcohol and feature a walk-in beer cooler that is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever laid eyes on.
However, France 44 provides ample and free opportunities to get involved for those of us not rich enough (yet) to make our regular alcohol purchases there. Every Saturday afternoon, they feature a wine tasting where patrons can sample a solid number of wines for free complete with commentary by real sommeliers. Full disclosure: I have no idea what “tannons” or an “oakey bouquet” are, but it’s pretty fun to taste wine that costs $30 a bottle.
In addition to the weekly wine tastings, France 44 also brings in different distilleries to do liquor tastings. They’ll usually bring a few things to taste and also provide a cocktail made with one of their products to sample as well. This is completely free of charge as well, and if you play your cards right, you can get a good buzz going.
The fun doesn’t end there, however – in fact, it’s just beginning. Step into the adjacent cheese shop and your world will forever be changed. Every day, they have a number of cheeses available for sampling as well as different crackers, chutneys, jams, spreads and other hors d’oeuvre type things.Sometimes they also have salami and sausages to taste! At this point, if you’re like me you may end up spending some money because the cheese is so delicious and you’re a little tipsy…but if you stay strong, you’ll be able to taste plenty of delectable cheeses without spending a cent.
If you feel guilty about taking advantage of all the free samples and not buying anything, hop back into the beer cooler and pick up a six pack. The prices aren’t really more expensive than other stores, and they have an unparalleled selection as well as a knowledgeable staff that can help you find your new favorite brew.
*E.D.I.N.A. – Every Day I Need Attention