The Boston Wine Expo’s Grand Tasting event unites varietals from nearly 200 wineries around the world with cuisine from more than 40 local eateries during four hours of culinary harmony. Attendees can sip more than 1,000 red and white elixirs culled from the grape-producing and wild-cork-taming regions of North America, Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mediterranean. Samples from Boston-area restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sandrine’s Bistro complement each swig as vintners enlighten enophiles on current winemaking trends. Throughout the afternoon, top gastronomic maestros tread two stages during live demonstrations that divulge recipes and directions for finding the secret compartment hidden inside every wine bottle. Lifestyle exhibits and a full schedule of seminars enlighten guests on topics ranging from cheese-and-wine matching to the diversity of Italian varietals (not included with this Groupon). A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local charities.
Aaron Mateychuk, head brewer at Watch City Brewing Company, makes playful twists to time-tested beer styles, earning his pub accolades and press mentions including a three-year streak of awards at the Great International Beer Festival. The stolid Titan ale is a balanced American brown ale, and the vivid Hops Explosion IPA employs a backbone of malt to keep a covey of hops in check. A posse of seasonal beers allows the brewer to keep experimenting by crafting citrusy summer ales to match cascades of sunshine and autumnal pumpkin brews the deep red-brown of changing leaves. Mateychuk also tracks down various strains of European yeast to create limited-run series, which in the past have included abbey-style Belgian beers and German-style lagers.
Inside the bright brewpub, servers carry upscale pub fare to a wall of wooden booths and benches exactly like those used in professional sitting competitions. Surrounded by vintage beer posters and paintings, patrons dine on pulled-pork tacos, housemade crab cakes, and reubens on pretzel rolls. The kitchen integrates beer into dishes such as the IPA-infused lamb burger and a deep-fried burger wrapped in beer batter and topped with chipotle-lime mayo.
On any given night at Gordon's Fine Wines & Liquors, guests might hear staff instructors share their favorite French wines or introduce a Speyside scotch. They might also see guest sommeliers, local brewers, or winemakers discuss the production regions and flavors of their most cherished varietals. For more than 75 years, Gordon’s has been a beacon for such talented flavor enthusiasts, recruiting a team of specialized instructors that has earned the alcohol emporium the title of Massachusetts Beverage Business 2012 Retailer of the Year. These professionals have never tired of spinning out lessons—touching on wine education, beer and spirits, cooking, and wine-and-food pairings, which immerses visitors in how to successfully marry cheeses and wines without their parents getting all bent out of shape.
Yet apart from the knowledge spread therein and the discussions bubbling with poignant enthusiasm behind the shelves, Gordon’s also serves as a supplier. Its shelves abound with hundreds of wines—including kosher wines—from every continent except Antarctica, more than 500 types of craft beer, and 300 single-malt scotches.
The Urban Grape pushes the fermented philosophy that wine and beer drinkers should explore its vast variety of flavors without intimidation. The shop’s extensive lineup of red wines ranges from the dark-chocolate aromas of Charles Krug’s cabernet sauvignon from Napa Valley ($24) to the full-bodied O.Fournier tempranillo from Spain ($16). Have the ideal white wine for a gorgeous afternoon firing nukes at incoming asteroids with the Ken Forrester chenin blanc from Stellenbosch ($10), boasting subtle grapefruit and green-apple notes. Beer buffs may blissfully quiver while looking at The Urban Grape’s selection of brews, including a 22 oz. Brew Dog Punk IPA from San Diego ($7). The store offers a number of other libations as well, from organic and biodynamic wines to a stellar array of sake. Drop by for The Urban Grape’s scheduled complimentary wine tastings every Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m.–7 p.m. and every Saturday from 1 p.m.–3 p.m. to introduce taste buds to up to 16 different types of wine.
Guests arriving to the Sheraton Needham Hotel might find their senses flooded with the aromas of classic American cuisine. The enticing smells come courtesy of Link Caf? & Bar, located just off the main lobby. There, chefs concoct a range of house specialties, from grilled chicken wings doused in teriyaki or chipotle barbecue sauce to flatbreads topped with figs and goat cheese or prosciutto and pears. Pub-inspired large plates such as English-style bangers and roasted salmon with mustard-chive sauce are hearty enough to sate any appetite, and make a perfect pairing for one of the bar's classic cocktails. Link Caf? & Bar also offers top-quality wines by the glass or flight, and each vintage on its compact, international list was chosen because it earned a high score from Wine Spectator and also aced the essay portion of its application.
The food at Shays Pub & Wine Bar ranges from Tex-Mex feasts to light servings of hummus, but all the dishes are united by one common thread: almost everything is made in-house from scratch. One example: the homemade enchilada sauce, which is smothered atop burritos bursting with melted cheese, rice, jalapeños, and onions. The fries are likewise homemade and hand cut, and make a perfect accomplice to the cheddar cheeseburger and the turkey and bacon sandwich. The wines on the menu, however, were not made in-house; even better, they hail from Italy, France, and New Zealand. Shays Pub also features 10 brews on tap and a list of bottled beers that includes Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.