Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 In Review: Part 1

Like 2007, this has been another interesting, busy and delicious year for me. I have dined at number of new restaurants, tasted many new wines, traveled some, and expanded my knowledge of food, wine, blogging and writing. It was an exciting time and I have many fond memories of the past year.

So, as 2008 nears its end, I want to spend a little time to look back at this past year, to savor some of my best memories and achievements. I have already provided two summary lists for 2008, my Top Ten Wines Under $15 and my Top Ten Wines Over $15. Now it is time for a general summary of the past year, a rundown of several key events. These are some of the most important food and wine events of the past year for me.

I. Wine Education:

1) I devoted time this past year to expanding my knowledge of wine and writing in a couple formal courses. First I took the Spanish Wine Educator's Course, an intensive three day seminar with two final exams, including a blind tasting. This course was excellent and covered an incredible amount of information about Spain and their wines. We also got to taste over 50 different Spanish wines. I am glad to say I passed my tests and was certified as a Spanish Wine Educator.

2) I also attended the first Wine Writer's Workshop held by Jonathon Alsop of the Boston Wine School. This four work course was both informative and fun. I believe I benefited from the course and I would recommend it to others as well. Another Workshop will start on January 26 so sign up now if you are interested. Jonathon is a good instructor and you will learn much from your fellow students as well.

3) One result from the Writer's Workshop was the formation of the Boston Wine Writers Group, which meets once a month and brings together local wine writers and others interested in wine. It is a great networking opportunity as well as being educational. As we enter 2009, I am sure this group will continue to grow and offer even more opportunities for all.

II. Saké Dominance:

1) As I love Saké, it has taken a very prominent role on my blog, starting with last January's Saké Month, a month-long series of educational posts about Saké. After January, I also instituted Saké Sundays, where I try to write a post about Saké on many Sundays. Saké is growing in popularity in the U.S. so there definitely is a need and desire for more information about this incredible beverage. Just consider that there are now at least three all-Saké stores in the U.S., including True Sake in San Francisco, Sakaya in New York City and Saké Nomi in Seattle. My passion for Saké wll continue and it will remain prominent on my blog.

III. Travel:

1) This past spring, I visited Las Vegas to attend the UNLVino Wine Tasting, a huge three-day wine tasting event. It is a larger event than the Boston Wine Expo and run much more smoothly. I reviewed many of the different wines and Saké that I tasted. While in Vegas, I also dined at several excellent restaurants, including Red Square, Valentino, Nobu, and Craftsteak. My enjoyment was further enhanced by the fact I won some money gambling too. I should be returning to ULVino in 2009, ready to taste some new wines and explore some new restaurants.

2) I also visited New York City three times this past year. One of the highlights of these trips were my visits to Sakaya , where I purchased some incredible Saké. You can read much more about my New York City exploits here. On one of my trips, I even ventured onto Long Island and visited a few wineries as well as dined at an excellent restaurant. Paumanok Vineyards was my favorite of the three wineries. I am sure I will return to New York City in 2009, and hopefully Long Island as well.

IV. Blogging Community:

1) The Wine Blogging community has certainly seemed to be more active than the local Food Blogging Community. Though a Boston Food Bloggers group was formed, it has been relatively inactive though I would like to inject some life into it in 2009. It also seems that at most of the food events I attend, bloggers are rare, most of the other food writers being from print media. Let us hope this changes in the New Year.

2) Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20 founded the Wine Book Club. About every other month, the participants read the same wine-related book and post reviews and thoughts about what they have read. As an avid reader, I have thoroughly enjoyed this though the actual number of participants has generally been low. Hopefully more people will join in for 2009 and make this event grow.

3) In honor of Women's History Month this past March, I began to compile a list of women wine writers and bloggers and it has certainly has grown since then. There are now over 100 women listed there, and it continues to grow. Kudos to all of the women on this list, as well as those who will be added in the future.

4) Bin Ends began the Twitter Taste Live events, an innovative use of Twitter to promote wine tastings all across the world. There have been numerous events already and I have participated in many of them. Most of the participants are wine bloggers but others are joining in as well, the number of participants growing all the time. Prior events have included wine makers, distributors and others. There has been plenty of diversity and there are many more events planned for the future. If you are not participating yet, I urge you to join in now.

5) I have met more local wine bloggers and it has been a pleasure to share wine with them. I hope to meet even more in 2009, as well as to meet some local food bloggers. Blogging should be about community, about networking with each other, those who share a similar passion. We should not simply be people behind a computer screen but should get out there, meet face to face and connect with each other.

V. Wine Dinners:

1) This past year, I have assisted at two wine dinners held at Melissa's Main Street Bistro in Stoneham. This includes a Spanish Tapas dinner and a South African Wine Dinner. I selected the wines for the meals and the food for the dinners were matched to the wines. During the dinner, I spoke about the wines as well as personally talking with the attendees about the food and wine. I tried to select different wines, ones that people might not be as familiar with but which were very good wines. I believe both events went very well and I hope to assist at more such wine dinners in 2009.

Tomorrow, I'll post Part 2, providing more specific items of note from the past year.

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