Remember that time I went to Wine Riot three years ago? It was Boston Marathon weekend and my first ever Wine Riot experience. It was not a great one. The Boston Marathon, well that was another story altogether. (Can I even tell you how hard it is, after running Boston four times, to be anywhere near anything marathon related when I’m NOT running? I feel like I’m about to burst into tears every time I see anything marathon-related. Thankfully, we’ll be in Sonoma soon, and then it will all be over for the year. Is it too early to start thinking about next year?)
This year, I received an email from the kind folks at Bordeaux Wines, asking if I would like to attend Wine Riot, and I decided to give it another shot. I mean, I’ve certainly changed over the last three years, perhaps the event had too?
I have to say, for the most part, I was seriously impressed. Held in the Park Plaza Castle this time around, the Wine Riot was spaced out really well with a nice flow, engaged and knowledgeable vendors, and much less crowded than I remember.
My date for the evening was my friend Jill, and we had just a short wait in the cold before the doors opened a few minutes after 7:00 p.m. Entry to the event was orderly and quick, and there were no lines for the coat check, a small detail but an area that always seems to be bottlenecked. We picked up our plastic tasting cups (Another touch I appreciated – while I love nice glasses, balancing glass, a camera, a plate, and my work bag is always a challenge.) and made our way through a real variety of wineries represented at the various tables.
One of the most crowded of the tables was the one that featured Bordeaux Wines, my host for the evening. We could barely get near the table to taste, much less to take a photo, but we did manage to taste our only red of the evening here, a Chateau Bonfils.
Clearly, the setup and wines at the Bordeaux table were a hit. Thanks again to Bordeaux Wines for inviting me!
Other than at the Bordeaux table, we were all about whites and rosés. I’ve had enough of all things that remind me of winter; give me light, fresh, citrus, and minerals. We stopped by the Chateau d’Eslcans table to check out what they had available. I love their Whispering Angel; it’s one of my favorite wines, and at Wine Riot I got to taste another new favorite, Sacha Lichine. Chateau d’Esclans makes gorgeous wines, plain and simple.
We were taken in to the Loire Valley display by their fun wallhangings; Jill wanted to bring this pairing picture home for the kitchen! I love things that make wine and food pairing simple, and thought this was a great idea. We tasted several wines we loved, especially the Domaine de la Pepiere Muscadet (Think briny oysters!) and the Philippe Portier Sauvignon Blanc from Quincy (Not Massachusetts!), which exhibited some peppery goodness that I love in a wine.
Throughout the event, we gave wines our stamp of approval, noting what we would pair with them or whether or not they were “boat wines”. Jill and her husband are some of our favorite friends to spend boat days with, so there were a lot of boat wines selected, like Line 39 Sauvignon Blanc from Lake County, California. I loved that this wine had nice, crisp citrus notes but also a nice body and mouth feel. I could see this wine being perfect with some salty meats and cheeses on a perfect blue sky day.
TJ from the Urban Grape was pouring several different rosés, a sure sign of the summertime. The lineup included my beloved Pares Balta, which, despite all of the others on the table being great, was still my favorite. The Urban Grape always has a gorgeous, well-stocked display of rosé; definitely be sure to check them out for your summer wines.
I’ve been on a major Chardonnay kick lately, and while I like notes of oak and butterscotch, I know not everyone does. The below sign is for all of those Chardonnay naysayers. You DO like Chardonnay; you just haven’t found a good, unoaked Chard! If you generally think you don’t like Chardonnay, I encourage you to try an unoaked Chardonnay from Travessia or Passaggio. The Four Vines Naked Chardonnay being poured by Bin Ends is also a nice choice.
Wine Riot’s Bubbly Bar was the hottest place in the venue, but the crowds were still manageable due to the tables being off in a far corner and large enough to accommodate about 15 people across, with several people working the table. It was also helpful to know someone who was pouring said bubbly. We may have stayed a little longer than planned, just to chat, of course.
Our final wine taste of the night was another Chardonnay, this one from Richer Pour. They caught our eye because their wine was coming out of a tap; they only supply it in kegs, so it’s served at restaurants only. The Carneros Chardonnay was definitely aged in oak, and it had some great flavors of vanilla and butterscotch, the perfect wine to round out our evening if tasting.
One of my favorite wines of the evening was one I didn’t even get a photo of. I had already ordered a few bottles of Travessia Urban Winery’s recently released Riesling, because I pretty much knew I would like it, but it definitely goes above and beyond my expectations. We agreed that it was easily a favorite of the evening. It’s going to sell out fast; I just added a few more bottles to my order and can’t wait to have this at my summer table.
There’s nothing more important at a big wine tasting like Wine Riot than the availability of food. I found the food choices at this year’s Wine Riot to be as fantastic as the wines. Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and KO Catering each had tables set up, serving up grilled cheese and pies, respectively. Roxy’s had a “Green Muenster” which contained bacon and guacamole in addition to the classic grilled cheese. Jill and I had to share a Green Muenster, then later in the evening a pulled pork pie from KO. Both were incredible and perfect choices for a quick dinner break in the middle of wine tasting.
I’ve avoided Wine Riot since my visit in 2010, and I am so glad I have it another try. Overall, it was a really well-organized event with great wines and a really fun, party vibe, the perfect way to spend a Friday night. It never felt crowded or overwhelming, and we left really happy, noting that we would definitely attend again.
I don’t think we need our arms twisted, but Wine Riot might just get Boston to drink more wine. . .
What wines, beers, or cocktails are you looking forward to as the weather gets warmer?