The best pairing for the 2017 Boston Wine Expo? Your favorite wine-lover. Boston blogger Caitlin Croswell, of Cait Plus Ate, and boyfriend Jeff Swanson tackled the Expo together last year and are looking forward to another chance to try new styles and expand their grape knowledge. The duo can usually be found dining in and around the city, often with glasses of wine in hand, and here, they uncork their tips for tag-teaming the 1800+ pours at the Expo’s Grand Tasting.
Firstly, what are you current go-to wines?
Caitlin: The go-to style I always know I’ll love varies across red, white, rosé, and sparkling! For red, I’m always going to enjoy a Barbera or Montepulciano – easy-drinking Italian wines. For white, I like a crisp and refreshing Sauv Blanc – but not New Zealand. That funky grapefruit taste isn’t for me. For rosé, I’m a fan of anything from Provence. And as for sparkling, call me a snob, but real Champagne is where it’s at.
Jeff: I’m less involved with my wine choices; honestly, my metric usually is, “How would this taste in a coffee mug when I’m taking the dog for a walk?” I’m a sucker for a Montepulciano or a Barbaresco, and I love a good, unique wine – orange wines, etc.
What are some wine styles you’re interested in learning more about at the Expo?
Caitlin: I’m always in for trying as many new sparkling wines as I can, but it’s also fun to try some stuff I couldn’t normally taste otherwise because of the price point, like really nice reds.
Jeff: I’d love to try some more unique varietals and blends, as well as some desert wines; I’m pretty limited beyond ice wine and port.
What’s your wine routine usually like? Paired with dinner? Paired with Netflix on the couch?
Caitlin: I have seen no limit to the time and place where I can enjoy wine, but it really depends on the moment. I like to pair wine with my dinner and TV (both usually happen at the same time if I’m home) but other times, a refreshing beer goes better with what I’m eating. During the summer I like to drink rosé outside, but other times I’m in the mood for a cocktail. So I would say I don’t really have a set wine routine, but that’s what makes it fun.
Jeff: I’ve always been more of a “wine with food” kind of person, but admittedly, I’ve yet to find a time when I won’t enjoy a glass.
Any tips for the best way to tackle a big event like this?
Caitlin: I’ve gone into these big tastings with a game plan before, and it really stressed me out more than anything. I ended up waiting in long lines to try wines I’d picked out in advance and so didn’t get to try as much. Now I just like to walk in and look for the least crowded tables, and go there. Chances are they aren’t less crowded because the wine there sucks! Maybe the wines at that table aren’t a brand name or aren’t a varietal that’s as popular. That’s what the Expo is all about after all – trying new things.
Jeff: Don’t come into it with a game plan; and look for the tables with smaller crowds. You’ll get to chat-up the pourers and learn more about what you’re drinking, and you’ll inevitably hit every station that you’d like to. Stick together, as people are always a sucker for a couple who seem interested and aren’t weird. A hotel or an Uber will always be the cheaper and safer bet in the long-run, and parking can be a nightmare in the Seaport. If you’re taking the time to make the trip to The Expo, why limit yourself?
What do your pre- and post-tasting schedules look like? Big brunch for stamina? Necessary nap after?
Caitlin: Definitely not on the big brunch beforehand – filling yourself up and making yourself tired is silly. Plus there is plenty of food at the Expo, so eating that much beforehand isn’t advisable. You’ll end up too full and have to leave early. Just a normal sized breakfast or meal beforehand should be fine. As for after, we are usually good to go out after the event in the Seaport. There are plenty of spots to hit up. But we also have friends who go home after and take a big nap – and that’s OK too. Just make sure you don’t brunch yourself into a nap beforehand.
Jeff: Get in and get after it – there’s no reason not to dive-in head first. Light on the morning meal, because nobody wants to drink wine on a full stomach when they’re half asleep. I’ll always push for keeping it going after The Expo.