Would you like to win a free pair of tickets to the Boston Wine Expo?
The Boston Wine Expo will be held in about three weeks, February 15-16, and it will showcase over 185 wineries from all over the world, so you'll be able to sample from over 1000 wines. This is a huge wine event, presenting a unique opportunity to taste a diverse selection of wines and hopefully to find some new favorites.
I am giving away a pair of tickets to the Sunday Grand Tasting (valued at $170). All you have to do for a chance to win is leave a comment on this post by January 27 at midnight. I will then randomly select one person to win the pair of tickets. Please leave your email address too in your comment so I can contact you if you win. Very simple.
And if you don't win the tickets, I can offer you a discount for tickets to the Saturday or Sunday Grand Tastings. Just use the code “SOCIAL” (without quotes) to get 10% off your tickets.
In addition, I want to offer some advice and suggestions for everyone who may be attending the Boston Wine Expo as it can seem overwhelming. People go to the Expo for a number of different reasons. Though many don't like to discuss it, there is a contingent that goes just to get drunk. I don't advise to do this. Go, have fun, taste wine, but don't over do it. Use this opportunity to learn about wine, to find new favorites, and to socialize with other wine lovers.
What is my best advice for attending the Expo? Like many endeavors, the key is in your preparation. Don't just show up and drink, especially if you want to learn anything.
1) Make a plan of which wine regions and/or specific wineries you want to visit. The Expo website lists many of the participating wineries. You cannot taste every wine, or probably even 10% of those wines, at the Expo. So you need to be very selective as to what you taste. If you don't go with a plan, you may waste time wandering around the hall, and might even miss a winery that you really wanted to check out. With a plan, you can best take advantage of your limited time.
2) Don't drink wines you already know and like. You can do that anytime and anywhere else. Instead, take this opportunity to expand your palate and try different wines, hoping to find new wines to enjoy. Never had Portuguese wines? Then make an effort to venture to their tables and try some of their wines, from Vinho Verde to Altejano reds. With all the diversity of wines available, it makes little sense to spend your time drinking the same wines you drink at home all the time. Be willing to experiment and taste something different.
3) To avoid the greatest crowds, go on Sunday rather than Saturday. Saturday in the Grand Tasting can be madness with the huge hordes of attendees. Sunday though does not attract as large a hordeof wine lovers. It will still be crowded, but is more manageable.
4) Dress comfortably, noting that there is always the potential you might spill wine on your clothes. So leave those white shirts, blouses, pants,etc. home. Wear comfortable shoes as you will be on your feet for several hours, walking around the Expo hall.
5) Don't wear perfume or cologne as they will interfere with your ability to smell the wine, and will also interfere with the ability of other people to do the same. So show consideration for your fellow attendees and don't wear it.
6) Eat a hearty meal before going to the Expo. If you are going to be tasting all that wine, you want to have a full stomach to help nullify some of that alcohol. If you go on an empty stomach, the alcohol will hit you harder and quicker, and you won't last long at the Expo.
7) How will you get to the Expo? Remember that you will be tasting lots of wines so you may not be able to drive home safely. No one should ever drink and drive! So, if you can, take public transportation, book a nearby hotel room, or have a designated driver. Please don't drink and drive.
8) If driving in, leave your coat in your vehicle. It gets warm in the Expo hall and wearing or carrying your coat can be a pain. You can check your coat at the Expo but when the Expo ends, there is often a long line to retrieve coats. To avoid that line, keep your coat in your car.
9) Arrive early to avoid the long lines getting into the Grand Tasting. Though the tasting starts at 1pm, lines may start forming one to two hours beforehand.
10) At the Expo, when you are tasting wines, please spit. Every sip you swallow adds to your alcohol level and if you do not spit, you will soon find yourself intoxicated. Even small sips can add up quickly. Once you are intoxicated, all of the wines will start tasting good to you and you probably won't learn anything. Spitting is the only way to navigate through a large number of wines, trying to discern which new wines appeal to you. So spit, spit, spit!
11) While you are tasting wines, take frequent breaks to drink water and eat snacks to help cleanse your palate. There are numerous food vendors at the Expo, many offering free samples, so there is no excuse why you can't find something to nibble upon. Water is also necessary to stay hydrated. All of this will help keep your palate sharp, and also try to limit the effect of all that alcohol.
12) If you find a new wine you enjoy, how will you remember it? You can take notes, writing down the name of the wine, or use your smart phone to take a picture of the wine bottle label. Nothing is worse than tasting a great wine but later forgetting its name. You will taste plenty of wines at the Expo so the only way to ensure you remember which ones you enjoyed are to take notes or pictures.
13) If you really enjoy a wine, ask questions about whether it is available or not. Unfortunately, not all of the wines poured at the Expo are yet available in Massachusetts. If it is available, they should be able to tell you the name of the distributor. Write that info down as it will help you locate the wine later. You can go to your local wine store with that info and they should be able to get the wine for you.
14) Consider attending one of the Wine Seminars at the Expo. They can be an excellent way for more directed wine education, in a more intimate forum. Check out seminars such as New Emerging Regions of Spain, Oregon Cool Whites, Scotch 101, Cheese & Wine Matching, Exciting Argentina, and Rum 101.
15) Check out the Chef Demos, which take place on two different stages. Each day of the Expo, there are eight chefs, mostly local ones, who will demo a recipe, which you also will get to sample. Go see Ming Tsai, Brian Poe, Chris Coombs, Mary Ann Esposito and others.
16) Make sure you have fun!