Once upon a time, after college, I was a real estate agent in Boston. I had an amazing group of friends in that city at that time, and we were living a life like you might see on an episode of “Friends.” We all had our first jobs, and were attempting to be real adults in apartments far away from the security of our college campuses. And after a long hard day, we would all join in Back Bay for dinner every Tuesday night. It was summertime before I made my first BIG commission on an apartment, and I brought to dinner that next Tuesday 4 bottles of wine.
I wrapped them up in felt bags, designed for a wine tasting. I’d bought a few kinds of wine before. I’d even taken a wine and beer appreciation course at Syracuse University. But in Boston, wine wasn’t something I was spending money on weekly (yet…) and certainly not at some of the prices I paid that day.
One bottle was 2 Buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s.
One bottle was a Cabernet Sauvignon called The Show. This usually costs $14.
One bottle was Frog’s Leap Merlot, which cost about $38.
And the last bottle, I had absolutely no business buying. It was a Sterling Vineyards Reserve for about $75.
The mission, that night, was to of course have fun and celebrate my first big deal, but also to test us and see if we could really tell between an expensive wine and an inexpensive wine. Our education of wine was definitely still lacking, but nevertheless, the bottles quickly disappeared and it was time for the reveal.
To this day, I still haven’t really found a glass of red that I absolutely despise, but since that night, one of my favorite go-tos is The Show. The Winemaker’s notes: This wine is big and bold, dominated by full flavors of dried black cherries, jammy preserves and layers of spice and sweet vanilla. My wallet likes this choice, too!
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to be a guest of a friend who is a wine distributor at the New York Wine Expo. I was so excited to taste amazing, and possibly unknown wines from all over the world. But I knew that this would also be a marathon…the show is 4 hours long! You mean I can’t drink every glass? How sad! But to survive in the wine industry, I’m told, you won’t be taken seriously if you actually drink the wine!
I must have tried 30 wines yesterday, as well as a pink sparkling something, and topped it all off with some delicious Ommegang Hennepin and Duvel. But as I hoped, I found some fascinating new wines, and at prices that were equally as appealing as the bouquets!
1. 2006 Fado Red – Listed as $6.99/bottle by Wine Library
, but quoted at $5.00/bottle from the Portuguese Winemaker himself.
2. Glen Carlou Grand Classique
– $18/bottle. I first found this South African wine at my favorite UES restaurant UVA
, and have been a fan for years. I was so excited to learn more about the Hess Family Estates and talk to the rep.
3. Also in the Hess collection, Goats Do Roam Red
for under $10/bottle. Loved a few of their wines and love the play on words with the name (Cotes du Rhone!)
4. I’ve somehow lost my notes on pricing, but a wonderful Winemaker from Spain, working under the name Ultramarine LLC poured us an amazing Tempranillo Cabernet Merlot. We asked him to please start distributing in NYC asap!
5. VDS – Vinhos do Douro Superior – Castello D’Alba Douro ’09
. This Portuguese wine was the first taste of the day, and set a very high bar for reds to come. Retails for about $9.99/bottle.
Splurge alert: We met a Winemaker who flew over from northern Italy, his family and translator in tow, and his wines were DIVINE. If you can afford, and come across the following, feel free to pick up a bottle for me, too!
Enzo Boglietti Barolo Cru Fossati – $115.50/bottle
Also at the Expo, we got to try out Cisco’s umi
, which is like Skype on your TV. $1,200 for two units (so you and a friend can both have one) and $24.99/month for service.
As well as Brix Chocolate
. The claim is that the chocolates are a perfect pairing with wine. Well, their slogan, “Move Over Cheese” is completely justified. Maybe the best milk chocolate and dark chocolate I’ve ever tasted! I’m bummed I forgot to buy the gift set of all three kinds of chocolate plus a cutting board and knife for $39.99 on the way out.
Other booths had vacation sweepstakes, ThirstyGirl
had t-shirts for sale and sign-ups for eNewsletters, and apparently there was a delicious bruschetta sampling, but the lines were so long, I didn’t get a taste.
The only disconnect of the day was Acura as a presenting sponsor of the Expo. I’m sorry, who thought it would be a good idea to put people who have been chugging wine all day behind the wheel holding their souvenir wine glass while a professional photographer takes event shots?? Fail.
The day continued with 2 for 1 Peronis
at happy hour, melt in your mouth Italian dinners at Puglia’s
in Little Italy, and a final nightcap at Cellar 58
Here’s to a wonderful Saturday in NYC…Salute!