If you’ve had the pleasure of walking into Tinto Wine & Cheese in the Hilltop Shopping Center in Virginia Beach, you quickly realize this is not your ordinary wine shop.
You won’t find any bright neon lights, cash registers, or mass-produced wines. In fact, you may not recognize any of the labels. But, this is by design. It’s part of their unique customer experience.
Owner Peter Brinkman says, “So many shops seem too transactional. It’s all about the sale. At Tinto, you won’t see a cash register, it’s all about interacting with our customers. It’s about the experience. Wine is all about context. Wine is meant to be social and it was important to create an environment at Tinto where people can relax and sample wine in a demystifying way.”
When you enter the small, but well-appointed space, you’ll find a welcoming staff and an inviting ambience that encourages you to sit down, relax and explore new wines. The interior of Tinto has a modern vibe with dark grain wood shelving, a communal table located at the center of the space and bistro tables on the side with cozy vibrant green bar stools for a pop of color.
Tinto means red wine in Portugese and Peter and his wife Nina chose the name because of their affinity with the culture of the Iberian Peninsula. They still own and operate a charming Inn in the town of Evora, Portugal and wanted to bring a unique wine experience to Hampton Roads. Peter also wanted the flexibility to be able to travel back and forth to the states to be close to his family in Virginia Beach.
While operating the Inn, they met many family-owned European winemakers were having a difficult time breaking into the U.S. market and Peter felt that if American consumers simply had the opportunity to taste these remarkable small-production wines, they would definitely make the purchase.
Peter explained that every dinner table in Europe has a bottle of water and a bottle of wine, and that the wine has to be good enough to complement the meal, but it can’t be too expensive. That’s where the everyday wine concept came from. Tinto offers six price points for your everyday wine needs ($10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35). They also have a special occasion section for those days when you want to splurge.
Tinto strives to put a spotlight on wine producers that you would never know about otherwise. Brinkman remarked, “we help people demystify wine, explore new varietals and cultures and avoid their weekly wine rut.” How many times have you reached for that same bottle, over and over and over again? People tend to play it safe with wine, but with thousands of varietals to choose from, it’s time to drink outside the box and head to Tinto for a new experience.
Tinto will let you sample most wines before you buy. While they have a strong focus on European, small-production and family owned wineries, they have a good representation of most major wine regions and they are constantly changing out their wine selection, so there is always something new to try. They also have a decadently delicious selection of gourmet cheese and charcuterie to pair perfectly with your wine selection.
They offer private tastings, a cornucopia of themed wine events each month from Mingle Mondays to Cheese Please Thursdays. I also teach a monthly wine school at the Virginia Beach location. Coming up in September, we are featuring a three-part Italian wine seminar on the first three Wednesdays of the month.
The Brinkman’s are celebrating the first anniversary of Tinto this Labor Day by opening a second location in downtown Norfolk. The second shop will be located in the lobby space of the Dominion Tower and will serve wine enthusiasts who work, live and play downtown.
They offer a delivery services with a minimum 6-bottle purchase and a wine club with special incentives for members.
To sign-up for wine school or book a private event, give them a call at (757) 422-1000 and make sure to give them a like on Facebook to stay up to date on events and classes at both locations.