Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Hello, my name is Mark and I am a wine snob..."

Or, The harmful effects of the Boston Wine Expo

I have come to a dangerous conclusion of my character. After yet another stressful day at work, I shrugged off my coat, left my shoes at the door still clinging onto one sock in desperation, and pour a glass of Merlot. I take a sip, swallow, and stare at the bottle in despair. The last of my stash from the holidays, it was a gift from my boss and has a crow on the label. And my praise stops there. I take another sip in hopes that it was a fluke--a bad sip--but the second one tastes the same. I used to be able to drink anything short of vinegar as long as it was made from grapes. I pour the glass out into the sink and look at my corked bottle as the realization sets in. I have finally become a wine snob.

Clearly the blame can be placed at Kelly's feet. The day of the Boston Wine Expo, he wakes me up extra early so that we can shower, dress, and grab a quick bite to eat before the unwashed masses take over the convention center. The massive blue room is broken down into grids, squares of tables arranged by country, wine produced, items sold, food. I snap my plastic badge onto by belt loop. "GUEST OF Kelly..." it screams above a bright orange bar proudly announcing "TRADE VIP" with its chest puffed out and fists on hips. "Oh great, now people are going to want to talk to me," Kelly says as he looks at his own badge with his restaurant under his name. His face says he's miffed, but I don't believe it. The man behind us mentions that we shouldn't miss the Barefoot table, and Kelly snorts. "Don't worry, we will," he says.

We grab our glasses and Kelly darts off as if he is trying to lose me. He pauses at the tables to see what's there, but darts as soon as it's clear he won't drink anything. We start with Prosecco and a sweeter white before dashing off to try some hearty reds. Cards are exchanged at every table we stop at for more than two glasses. Kelly cherry-picks vintages and varietals and shakes hands. I swallow a few of the whites, but spend the rest of the morning trying to master the spit bucket. Leaning over, I feel as if I just finished brushing my teeth and it looks like I cut a gum. Holding the bucket up closer has the dangerous risk of splash-back if the bucket is full, with one attempt ending in frantic scrubbing of my face with water and a napkin from the cheese table. It's only after our 20th table that I find the perfect height to hold the bucket (chest level) and the velocity to spit (just enough force to jet the wine like I'm a drunken fountain loose from my pedestal).

Running to the back, Kelly gasps at the square of tables tucked away forgotten before the seminar rooms. "Ooh, Greek wine," he says. The woman behind the table gets Kel's card and spends our time at her booth chasing him from bottle to bottle. "We would love to interview you for local carriers that feature our wines," she says with a whisper of desperation behind her earnest smile. Kelly promises to take her call and we sip the first, a Santorini. Sharp and clear, it tastes like nothing I have ever had before. I swallow it wishing I could get a second glass without seeming greedy. The people behind the table present each wine with a story--grape vines grown into basket shapes to protect the delicate fruit, clay slopes the color of brick that must be snacked on by the people visiting for the first time. Each wine from the first to the ending samples of Samos are perfect and make everything else seem lesser in comparison. Oh sure, the Georgia [the country, not the state] table was very good, but nothing else felt on par with the Greek wine. "You should blog about this and call it 'It's all Greek to me'!" Kelly says.

We pause for a seminar featuring most of Kelly's friends. But after an intelligent discussion (with one yahoo dominating a small part of it), I feel the morning catching up with me. My mouth gets dry from the many tastings and spittings. My gums are woolly and my teeth feel a little filmy. I grab a glass of water to rinse and continue on to the Grand Cru lounge, which has fewer wines at a higher price that don't speak to me at all (the best item there was the wine cookies that were designed to cleanse the pallet between tastings). By the end, I am tired, drained, and educated.

I plug the bottle of red in my kitchen and hope that it can be saved to cook with, but I have a feeling it won't. As they always say, you should cook with what you like to drink...and I apparently like to drink something of substance.

No comments:

Post a Comment