While Traveling the Wine Expo Trail, Try not to Crawl

Culture is a funny thing and sometimes it seems as far as we have gone we’ve not gone far enough. Our recent outing (Enobytes) to the 17th annual Boston Wine Expo was an eye-opening experience with the trade and the public attending the largest and one of the oldest wine expos in the country.

The drive to impress was intense among the 500 exhibitors. One common buzz among trade associates in retail and wholesale was the search for better quality at lower prices. There was a noticeable difference between attendees at an East Coast wine event and those of a Northwest event with the most apparent difference being that they are focused on decisively different agendas.

The East Coast exhibitors were always closing and working to achieve a single mission of marketing and to garner a loyal wholesale and retail base.

In the Northwest, it happens a little more like a relationship. At first, the infatuation excludes common sense so you listen to anything they tell you. Then you realize the hype might not match the performance, and then next your separation depression is overwhelming. Yes, we are still talking about wine. Maybe? No really, we are still talking about wine.

On the East Coast, attendees at a wine expo devote an unnatural predication on the French exhibitors. Those poor guys were subjected to an avalanche of interest and for some reason the East Coast trade and wine enthusiast alike have a lust for French wines. I am not sure everyone understood the concept of a trade show showcasing current wine releases. A few guests were overheard saying, “I can’t believe they don’t have any good vintage Bordeaux”.

One common question I hear asked again and again here in the Northwest is, “Do you have any sulfite free wines”? I did not hear that question once in two days at the Boston Expo – it is obviously not a concern, proving to be another distinct difference between these demographically opposed regions.

Here in the Northwest wine is consumed by a wider spectrum of consumers, the poor, the rich and the middle class. In Boston, there is still a large blue-collar crowd that hangs at the corner bar with shots and beers, and they would consider the thought required to choose a wine excruciatingly painful not to mention very un-cool.

But let’s get back to the subject at hand. Now if I could just figure out what it was supposed to be it would make it easier to move forward. Culture or the lack thereof seemed to rear its ugly head during the Boston Wine Expo with many non-trade attendees having an aversion to, or non-recognition of a spit bucket. That’s OK with me but if your not going to use one, please be aware of the folks who would like to.

As with many of these events, the biggest roadblock in accomplishing tasting all the wines that are offered were the “campers”. These are folks who once they are poured a wine feel it is necessary to stand where the wine is being poured until they have worked through the entire flight. Meanwhile they are attempting to pose every inane question that partially formed in their inebriated brain, before they can move aside to let others have access.

It was easy to separate the actions of the trade folks from the general public because trade badges were allowed to enter at 11am and the general public at 1pm. If you had any serious desire to taste and talk about any specific wines it needed to be done before 1:30pm. All focus and, or any resemblance to caring by the exhibitors had disintegrated by 3:30pm so the 5pm close was a deadline no one survived.

Despite a surly flight crew on American Airlines in and outbound, weather that reminded me why I do not live on the east coast anymore, and one of the worst hotel stays ever, a 4 star rated hotel with 2 star performance from Westin, I still had a great time and loved the wine. Event recommended, and rated successful. Please look forward to our future posts regarding specific tasting notes on many of the current releases poured during the event.


About the Author:

Marc has held almost every position in the food & wine industry and is committed to Celebrating Hospitality with Pride. In addition to being the co-founder and editor-at-large for Enobytes, Marc is a wine blogger contributor to OregonLive.com (Wine Bytes) and writes the Wine Knowledge column in the print magazine About Face. The Contra Costa County Times, San Jose Mercury News, Tacoma Times Tribune and Washington Post have either interviewed or quoted Marc on his viniferous and culinary opinions. Marc has also appeared on Portland's "Vine Time" on News Radio 750 KXL and on California's Central Coast "From the Growing of the Grape to the Glass" on KUHL-AM 1410. He is also the author of A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy. While continuing to tenaciously search for what he may finally proclaim as his favorite wine Marc is relentless in his quest for the ultimate food and wine experience.

One Comment

  1. James Carmody March 11, 2008 at 12:06 PM - Reply

    Thank you for attending this year’s Boston Wine Expo. With tthe benefit of 17 years behind us we did make some modifications this year, one being to close at 4:30 instead of 5PM and we think this was a very positive change. Did you make it to the grand cru room or any seminars? I look forward to hearing your feedback on the Expo. I am currently the GM of Seaport a position I have held for four years however when I was in another job I was one of the Founders of the Boston Wine Expo and I remain President of the oversight organization (Boston Guild of Oenophilists). Should you return to the Boston Wine Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center next year please consider the Seaport Hotel as your base of operation. Thank you

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