Friday, January 29, 2010

19th Boston Wine Expo: General Impressions

This was the first year that both days of the Boston Wine Expo pre-sold out, showing the growing popularity of this event. Despite difficult economic times and the fact that tickets are not inexpensive, none of that stopped thousands of people from attending this grand wine tasting event.

I attend the Expo hoping to find some interesting wines and food products, something that will impress me. That often takes some time as I chat with the wine makers, distributors and vendors, trying to obtain more information about their products. This is best done during the trade hours, when it is much quieter in the main hall. I try to make the most of this time, to take advantage of the relative quiet, before the event opens to the general public.

This year, over 350 wineries were present, pouring over 1800 wines. There is no way I can taste even a significant fraction of that many wines so I have to be very picky, as well as spit a lot. My plan of action is to usually to seek out the more unusual wines, those from less known regions. I want to experience these more unique wines, from regions I don't know as well. I can easily find French, Italian, Spanish and California wines at any local tasting. So at such a large event, I want to taste what I can't often find.

I think this is one area where the Expo could improve, where they could showcase more lesser known regions. For example, there was only one table with Saké, and they only had two to taste. I did not see any tables with wines from rare regions like Israel or Lebanon, Hungary or Switzerland. They did have more local wines at the Expo this year which is good, but more diversity would be even better.

This year, I concentrated much of my tasting on wines from South Africa, the Finger Lakes region of New York, and some New England wineries. Plus I found a few food products which peaked my interest. I will be posting about my favorite finds over the next couple weeks. I was also fortunate to meet some new people in person, including some I had previously known only online.

When the Expo opened to the general public, it quickly became very crowded, and there were long waits at all of the wine and food tables. Those working the tables were very busy, pouring samples, and they did not have much time to chat. They were often reduced to brief sound bites about their wines. The Expo does need to address this issue, to find better ways to manage the crowds.

So did you attend the Boston Wine Expo? If so, what were your thoughts?


Couves said...

I only attended a seminar this year, but I went to the grand tasting last year. I agree, it is rather crazy and unhelpful for those really trying to learn about wine.

A nice solution would be for them to extend the event into the next Monday (NOT Friday). Sure, not everyone can take the day off, but many serious wine fans would.

In today’s era of online social media, where everyone is a potential critic, it seems silly to me that the event specially caters to those who are technically “press” while providing a terrible experience for those of us who are only casual critics. And I’m sure the food and wine vendors would much rather reach these people than just feeding and watering the cattle call on Sat and Sun.

Christy said...

Ah the Boston Wine Expo. I credit that event with driving me into the industry - so I could attend the trade tasting portion. I haven't been since back 1998. It was crazy then - I can only imagine that it's crazier now as overall interest in wine has grown quite a bit in these (yikes) 12 years. But I still remember it fondly. Can't wait to read more about it on your blog!


Wine Road Less Traveled said...

I have not been for many years but reading your post makes me realize what I have been missing. I will have to make it a point to get there next year - even if it is crazy and crowded...

Richard Auffrey said...

Thanks everyone for the comments. The Expo has its good and bad points, and we can only hope that the Expo organizers try to resolve the problem areas.