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The Boston Wine Expo

A World of Wines to Tempt Your Palate

By Sonja A. Sharpe

Staff Writer

11th Annual Boston Wine Expo

Feb. 2 & 3, 2002

World Trade Center Boston

200 Seaport Boulevard, Suite 125

For those of you who were not able to take Professor Hobbs’ IAP wine tasting class (In Vino Veritas) but still have an interest in wine, the city of Boston offers a great substitute in the form of the Annual Boston Wine Expo. The expo is famous for being the nation’s largest consumer wine event, and was held this year from Feb. 2-3 in the World Trade Center Boston.

The Boston Wine Expo is like no other event in Boston. It is a two-day wine extravaganza that includes not only wine tasting, but seminars, chef demonstrations, food specialties, wine accessories, and more. The most popular event in the Wine Expo is the public Grand Tasting, which is held on both Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets for the Grand Tasting are $70 for one day ($60 in advance) and $92 dollars for both days, and can be purchased online at the Wine Expo’s web site.

Although certainly not cheap, the Grand Tasting really lives up to its name. If you have even a remote interest in wine, the entrance ticket is actually a bargain. Over 450 wineries from countries all around the world are represented, lined up in an enormous hall filled with table after table of vintners eager to tempt you with their wines. Sample a bordeaux from France, a riesling from Germany, a chardonnay from California, or even a sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. Champagne and port selections are also offered for those looking for more than just traditional wines. With such a large selection, even the most discriminating oenophile is bound to find something interesting at the expo.

To enhance your wine tasting experience at the Grand Tasting, however, you need to come prepared. You will spend more time tasting and less time waiting in lines if you bring your own bread (a baguette works really well for this) and a bottle of water. While bread and water are provided at the Grand Tasting, the lines are usually long, and they sometimes run out by the end of the afternoon. There is no need to bring a wine glass, though, as one is included in the price of the ticket. You can even obtain a replacement should yours drop to the floor and shatter into a thousand pieces.

Aside from wine, the Grand Tasting also offers a large selection of specialty foods. Cheeses are provided by The Great Cheeses of New England; breads and various dips and spreads are provided by Bread & Circus as well as other vendors. Sample hummus, salsa, honey, pasta sauces, butter and other treats from the many tables that line the perimeter of the hall. There are also cigar, glassware and wine accessory vendors, ready to provide the serious wine enthusiast with every possible wine need, from small wine racks and novelty items to custom designed walk-in cellars. Chef demonstrations are also given throughout both afternoons, providing samples of delicious delicacies to complement the abundance of available wines. So much goes on at the Grand Tasting that it is incredibly difficult to experience everything in one afternoon alone, so, if you can afford it, definitely go both days.

If your pockets are extra deep, the Wine Expo also offers two more formal affairs, complete with music, wine, first-rate meals, and even dancing. The Vintner’s Dinner, held on the Saturday evening of the Expo, showcases the vintages of a particular wine with a multi-course dinner. Tickets to this event are $135 each. If a slightly less formal occasion is more to your liking, the expo also offers a Sunday Brunch, which is a two-hour event accompanied by wine and classical music performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tickets to this event are $70 each.

In addition to wine and food, the Boston Wine Expo also offers various seminars on everything from entertaining with wine and spotting bargains to tasting specific wines or those from specific regions. There are even seminars on cheeses and cigars, and how they can complement wine. Tickets for individual seminars range from $20 to a pocket-emptying $125 for an Opus One vertical tasting.

The Boston Wine Expo is a fantastic event that should be fun for anyone who has even a passing interest in wine. Some words of caution about the expo are in order, however. Most importantly, you must be 21 to enter, and ID is checked at the door. Also, Massachusetts law prohibits anyone from buying a bottle of wine at the expo. You can not even take a bottle outside if one of the vintners gives you one. Massachusetts state police are present in significant numbers at the event, so do not expect to be too successful if you plan on breaking any of these policies.

That said, the Wine Expo enables you to sample so many wines that you are bound to walk away with a list of fantastic ones that you can legally purchase at any number of liquor stores in the Boston area. If nothing else, the Boston Wine Expo will provide you with a relaxing and entertaining afternoon full of fine wine and excellent fare, and leave you with a broader appreciation for the large variety of wines produced throughout the world.