Sunday, February 10, 2008

WOOHOO! Wine Expo '08 duuuuuuude!

I just got home from a very long weekend as an exhibitor at the Wine Expo. I'd never been and I must admit that it was not at all what I was expecting. I expected a larger room, a bigger selection of wine (at least more US regions represented, and certainly more small vineyards present), more chef stages, the ability to purchase more (for some reason I could have sworn that when Andrea and her parents went they bought wine, or at least ordered it to be shipped), and a much older, wealthier crowd. As far as our presence there, we all expected people to want to register for courses on the spot.Instead there were lots of people in their 20s and 30s, lots of folks in flannel and fanny packs, and no one stopped for long enough to register for anything, to the point where only a few hours in on Saturday we took down the registration promo signs.

A few delightful surprises: many people were taking classes already and loved them, and those who weren't were very interested. We got some great feedback on the marketing, and one guy even stopped to take a picture of one of the signs I made! ("She thinks all zinfandels are white.") The wine stoppers/foil cutters were a huge draw and a big hit and went faster than we could have expected. We had some offers to donate wine which is wonderful. I ran into Brian from the Phoenix who is quickly becoming one of my favorite new people and not entirely because he gives me free stuff. I ate (and then later purchased) some really wonderful manchego cheese partnered with almonds and honey. I also bought a jar of hot brussel sprouts - no really, they are wonderful. I can't wait to have a party and put them on the coffee table I have yet to buy in a lovely little dish I have yet to buy. I couldn't resist a rosemary infused olive oil, and will indeed use it as was suggested, tossed onto some pasta with a little bit of cheese (he said ziti but I don't like ziti {I know, it's pasta, it all tastes the same but really I don't like ziti} so I'm thinking tortellini or maybe a goat cheese ravioli would be fantastic.)

Some less than delightful surprises: vomit. Everywhere. Yesterday as we were leaving there was a girl sitting in a chair next to a bucket, her boyfriend at her feet helping her clean puke from her jeans, and a statie overlooking the entire scene. The best part? Right next to the exit, so we all got to watch and judge as we left for the night. This evening I did the obligatory "go to the bathroom before getting in the car" trip and at least three stalls were completely unusable because the floor was absolutely covered in vomit. I don't even know how that's possible. There are sinks and trash cans and other toilets on the way to that toilet, and then you, standing right in front of a toilet, missed it completely. I would hate to see what that girl's sweater must have looked like. In commenting on how gross it was, someone in front of me told me she saw a guy barely bending over to throw up into a trash can, near where the Luna bars were (right in front of the Celebrity Chef stage for those of you in attendance.) Give me a BREAK.

There were also a number of people stumbling around at 5:00, grabbing empty bottles from unmanned tables and trying to drain the dregs. Tonight, since no one wants to lug a half empty bottle of wine back to their hotel room along with all the other show materials, there were plenty of half-bottles to be found, which one group did (they looked to be 24 at the oldest). Staked near the exit, they plopped themselves into a group on the floor, chugging wine and hooting. Courtney appropriately titled the scene "The Fall of Rome."


I was really grateful that we were able to do this, and am excited to have generated some good buzz and hopefully good students from being there. I am absolutely disgusted with the behavior I saw by some (thankfully a small minority) of the consumers, though. It ties in to people who send emails on their Blackberries at the Symphony, who would rather throw an elbow into your kidney than say "excuse me," who are so rude and selfish and lacking any sort of basic human civility that it literally keeps me awake at night wondering how they can live with themselves and how on earth I'm expected to. I've seen 8th grade classrooms with more grace and decorum, and I'm betting even a classroom filled with drunk 8th graders might even command a bit more respect.

Is Boston falling? Or are these just a few morons who need to be swept aside so the rest of us can go about our business of contributing to the world?