Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Boston Wine Expo: An Overview & Food

A bounty of Georgian wines, with about nine different producers, and including a few Qvevri wines. A table of interesting Bulgarian wines, a couple with indigenous grapes that were new to me. As expected, there were some excellent Portuguese wines. Intriguing wines from Lodi, elevating my interest in this wine region. These were some of the major highlights of my experience at this year's Boston Wine Expo.

With a media pass, I attended the trade hours of the Grand Tasting on Saturday as well as the Vintner's Reserve Lounge. There were over 200 wineries showcasing more than 2000 wines so I was only able to sample a tiny fraction of the available wines. I usually seek out wines which are different and more unusual, availing myself of the unique opportunity to taste such wines. Why spend time sampling wines that I see all the time at other tastings? I want this event to be educational, to learn more about less common wines.

Overall, the Grand Tasting presents some interesting diversity in their wines, though I think more would be beneficial. For example, I only saw a single Sake exhibitor and there weren't many South African tables. In addition, there wasn't any Sherry, very little Port and limited local wines. I noticed that Long Island had a fairly significant presence this year, after almost no participation in previous years. The Expo is an excellent opportunity to expose consumers to different wines, to let them taste some of the vinous wonders they might not know about but would enjoy once they tasted them. Maybe the Expo organizers could reach out to more unique producers, and entice them to display their wines at next year's Expo.

As usual, once the public hours for the Grand Tasting began, the Expo got very crowded, making it more difficult to reach many of the tables unless you waited for a time. It got more difficult to speak with producers who can't devote much of their time to each different person. This year was more crowded than normal due to the adverse weather, as those with tickets for the Sunday Grand Tasting were permitted to come on Saturday instead. In the end, they had to cancel the Sunday event due to another snow storm. If there hadn't been the storm, the Expo still would have been crowded, and it would be great if a solution could be found to make it less crowded.

I'm sure plenty of the attendees don't want to spend twenty minutes with a producer discussing terroir and harvesting methods. However, there are some wine lovers who want to take some time and learn more about the wines they are sampling. Maybe these wine lovers would benefit if the Expo had a special VIP hour or two for a limited amount of wine lovers who might want to spend more time talking with producers. Does anyone else have any suggestions for limiting the crowds at the Expo?

There were a number of food exhibitors at the Expo, offering free samples of their products, from Harrows Chicken Pies to Davids Teas, from Pasta Chips to Cabot Creamery. As I've said before, with all the wine tasting, it's beneficial to have plenty of food samples to absorb the alcohol and cleanse the palate. In addition, it's interesting to pair some of these foods with the wines you are tasting. I want to present two of my favorite food stops from the Expo, items I strongly recommend to my readers.

Back in 2012, I first discovered McCrea's Candies and they were one of my Top 3 Finds at the 4th Annual New England Dessert Showcase, They are a local company, and have expanded their selection since then. Their caramels are as tasty as ever, and I was most impressed with one of their new flavors, Highland Single Malt Scotch. They use actual Scotch, from the Ardmore Distillery, and the caramel has a prominent whiskey taste, with smoky undertones. I think the blend of the caramel and Scotch works well together and would be a unique gift for the Scotch lover in your life.

Tuscan Kitchen was at the Expo showcasing their new Online Market where you can get any of their products shipped to your home. Chef Eddie Payne was at their booth, preparing a wonderful dish of Truffle Stuffed Mascarpone Gnocchi with porcini mushroom creme and shaved pecorino tartufo. Such an irresistible dish of pillowy gnicchi with a strong umami aspect. This dish is available at their restaurant and I enjoyed some earlier this week at their Burlington location (along with a couple of other tasty pasta dishes).

During the next couple weeks, I'll be posting reviews of the wines I most enjoyed at the Expo. Stay tuned..

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