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A Guide to Surviving: the Boston Wine Expo

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The calendar may have read Saturday, but oh baby, we lived like it was Wednesday. In the budding years of our relationship, my husband and I shared Wednesdays off. And Wednesdays were the best days.

The day was synonymous with cocktails, wine, new restaurants, old haunts and the city we love. That middle of the week ‘Hump Day’ that we now experience was previously our Saturday night. Filled with all things food, drink and fun. The original Hunger|Thirst|Play.

After a morning of sleeping in, we hopped into an Uber and began the revitalization of Wednesday…but on a Saturday…I swear it makes sense…sort of.

Boston Wine Expo

The restaurant industry, or any outlet in the hospitality field, is not an easy occupation. You truly have to love it to justify the work, both physical and emotional. And even when you do love it with a passion, there are still some days that are miserable. I’m sure anyone who works directly with the public can relate.

Boston Wine Expo

Duckhorn Decoy Wines at the Boston Wine Expo

However, this life of long hours, constant human interaction, striving to improve the guest experience comes with a few perks. Like Trade Tickets to the Boston Wine Expo! Trade tickets are clutch for this experience. No lines, no crowds, and no cost. Freebie access to hundreds of wine purveyors? There’s a reason we’ve been doing this every year.

Preparation is key

A good day at the wine expo is all about being prepared. Breakfast is a must. Hydration is key. And don’t forget your roadmap upon arrival. Scan the list for your favorite wineries, hit them up first. A lot of purveyors will bring a few specialty bottles which run out the minute they open the gates for public hours.

Of course you’re going to want to rotate in some snacks. The options have grown quite extensively over the last few years. Cheeses, paté, charcuterie, olive oils and an array of snacks from local Boston restaurants. About halfway through your wine time, these booths will appear like a mirage in the desert. Go towards the mirage, eat the snacks.

Boston Wine Expo

An array of imported olive oils available for tasting at the Boston Wine Expo.

The wine. You will definitely find some serious diamonds in the rough hidden amongst the hundreds of exhibitor tables. But if you’re expecting $100 bottles and life changing juice, you might as well upgrade to the Grand Cru Tasting because you’re not going to find that in the regular expo. Or just do what we do…keep your expectations low and get a layout of the land before you start your day drinking.

Boston Wine Expo

What to expect

People. Lots of people. Hence why the trade tickets are so clutch. Especially if you’re not a big fan of crowds (raises hand). My husband likes to call it, ‘cougar hour.’  That scary time in the afternoon when middle aged women relive the glory of their college days and someone always ends up tossing their cookies on the sidewalk.

In addition to these ladies, here are a few other characters you may meet:


Not a bad guy, but prepare yourself for the not so casual dropping of every wine term he picked up in this month’s issue of Wine Spectator.

The notetaker

Listen, Larry. There’s no test on the way out. Most of the exhibitors don’t even have a distributor in MA, that’s why they’re here. CTFD and just try the juice.

The swish & spitter

More common during the trade hours, because a lot of people are truly there for work. Discovering new wines and forming business ties. But if you’re still swishing and spitting like a master sommelier well after the trade hours end. Just quit it. You’re drunk like the rest of us.

The Wine Club Couple

The vegans of the wine world. Oh you’re part of the wine club for X winery? Please include that information in every sentence possible. I mean, please don’t get me wrong, I have friends that are vegan and I actually tried being vegan for a year. They’re good people, but even during my time I talked about it to anyone who would listen – you’re just too excited about this new, unrelatable, food journey.

And wine clubs? We actually belong to several. It’s amazing. Like a gift you forgot you bought for yourself gets delivered 3-4 times a year. But beyond all that, no one needs to know about it and the reps at the booth are not going to pour you extra wine.

The ‘No Thanks, Brought My Own Glass’ Lady

Though this post is filled with a bit of my snarky side, I do have to say I have a love-hate relationship with this lady. I find her ridiculous and awesome all rolled into one. Fanny pack filled with snacks clipped on and her own personal wine glass in hand. As someone who constantly travels with snacks, I can get down with that thought process.

This lady has ZERO Fs to give. But really, that 2 buck chuck is not going to taste any better in your Riedel than it does in the JetBlue Getaways sponsored freebie.

The Wine Rep Still Drunk from Last Night

Still drunk or perhaps indulged in a few other substances. Not entirely sure, but the glazed eyes and slightly disheveled look says, “I didn’t sleep last night, let’s keep the party going.” Go to this booth. It will be a good time.

How to Survive

Besides truly enjoying the people watching experience, there are a lot of ways to enjoy the wine expo. However, it can be equally as easy to have too much fun, too fast…and then no one has any fun at all.

I’m not saying I’m speaking from experience….but I might be speaking from experience.

The key take aways to enjoying the wine expo are these:

  • Don’t drive so you can safely enjoy yourself or splurge on a hotel room. There’s so much to do in the Seaport area it’ll be worth it to explore pre or post expo…if you’re still standing.
  • If you don’t plan to spit, don’t finish every single tasting. Each tasting is about a 1 to 2 ounce pour, so by your 6th tasting, you’ll have consumed 1 glass of wine. With hundred of wines on display, it’s going to be a long day. I mean, I can put down a serious amount of wine but no one trusts a girl with wine mouth by 12:30 in the afternoon.
  • Have snacks. Whether they’re stashed in your fanny pack or you opt for the free snacks on display, you’ll need some fuel to finish strong.
  • Opt for the free bottle of water at the door. It’ll be annoying to carry around, but worth it.

But the best way to enjoy the wine expo is to be social and have fun. There’s a lot of other people there for the same reason.

Cheers to all of us for being awesome wine drinking people!


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