Posts Tagged ‘dc food and wine festival’

Wine Book Tour Thoughts

October 5th, 2009 • 1 Comment

Charlie Adler - Drinking on the Job!

Charlie Adler - Drinking on the Job!

I’m putting together the finishing touches on the book “I Drink on the Job: A Refreshing Perspective on Wine”. Right now, I’m organizing the photoshoot and working on the book website. FYI, www.idrinkonthejob.com will change from being the blog itself into being the website for the book. In other words, The blog will be one of the links on the website, but the overall site will include excerpts from the book (like “nobody ever dies from a bad food and wine pairing”), a Calendar to find me on tour, photos, videos and details on how to reach me. My goal is to be a major wine speaker at wine festivals throughout the U.S. and possibly some international venues. I expect to increase my exposure to corporate event planners who are looking for an entertaining speaker who can also educate their audience with common sense anecdotes that will help them improve their ability to choose a wine..Oh, and of course, being a better wine “chooser” makes a person a better employee, leader, and overall great person – yeeowww!!

If you represent any wine festivals, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. My twitter account at idrinkonthejob went active and live about two weeks ago and I’m adding followers at a good pace. My intent is to use Twitter to give quick anecdotes of my tour and things I learn and experience while out and about and tasting. I love my Blackberry Storm and it really helps me to quickly take photos, blog, Tweet and even add video. My message is both to the Newbie wine consumer and to the industry as well: anyone can quickly get started in wine, all they have to do is think of wine as part of a meal. Keep it simple and don’t worry about the details, drink first, ask questions later, there are so many excellent choices, it’s best to learn as you go!

OK, back to drinking on the job, have a great football Sunday everyone – Cheers!

Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler

Observations on DC's International Wine (and Food?) Festival 2009

February 15th, 2009 • 2 Comments
DC Intl. Wine and Food Fest, Saturday, Feb. 14th, 2009

DC Intl. Wine and Food Fest, Saturday, Feb. 14th, 2009

I attended the Trade and Consumer tasting at the DC Intl. Wine and Food Festival yesterday, Saturday, February 14th, and I wanted to post some observations.  First of all, the organizers of this event are an event planning company out of Boston – Resource Plus Shows and Events, and they started wine festivals with the Boston Wine Expo which began 18 years ago.  When the Resource people came to Washington, D.C. 10 years ago, they had a track record with the Boston Wine Expo pretty much selling out every year at about 15,000 attendees over 2 days, but they had tried an Atlanta version that had failed.  I offered TasteDC’s ticket selling and promotion services when they first came to DC and sold approximately 40% of their first year tickets which helped get the DC Expo quickly into success mode.  TasteDC is no longer affiliated in any way with the DC event.

My observations:

-Saturday is always a very crowded day and tends to be more of the “weekend drinkers” type.  Although I noticed the crowding, I think the crowd has changed and has gotten to be more serious about wine and not quite as young and drunk as in the past.  Having noted that, I left midway through the event, and things tend to get pretty ugly near the end of these events when rowdy partiers crash the tables and literally fall on the floor drunk and sick.  The difference this year may have been that the date was on Valentine’s Day, and possibly people were on a bit better behavior, but that is very hard to say,

-A significant number of wines tasted were unrepresented in the local wholesale market and were looking for Mid-Atlantic distribution/representation.  This is important – most of the wines I tasted are not available in Washington, D.C., MD, or VA to purchase and may never reach even the East Coast.  As great as the variety of wines available to taste (something like 800), if you like a wine you often can’t purchase it in the local market,

-There is virtually no “food” at this event, and it should be taken out of the name of the Festival.  I’ve been saying this for years – if you’re going to include “food” in the name, then you have to feed people essentially a meal – let’s say about 1,000 calories per person of “real” food – not crackers, not table samples from chocolate/cracker/olive oil/cheese companies, I mean REAL food like chicken, meat, pasta, etc..and you should have some chefs/restaurants JUST serving food samples.  I use the Charleston Food and Wine Fest as an example – many local restaurants man the tables and serve serious grits and other southern low country food.  You’re stuffd at the Charleston Fest, but you’re drunk and hungry at the DC Fest – what’s that all about?

-No wine seminars – they just disappeared!  I haven’t been attending this Fest in a few years, but I remember lot’s of smaller seated seminars.  This definitely adds to the educational component, but there was none of that this year,

-If you’re going to charge the Big Bucks for a VIP Room, then make it hospitable and don’t overcrowd..the Grand Cru room cost an ADDITIONAL $125 to the Grand Tasting ticket which was around $85, before discounting, and was so crowded, hot and uncomfortable, that it seemed like a rip-off!  Food wise it wasn’t much better than the Grand tasting, but Igourmet.com did a very nice cheese tasting (if you could squeeze in!) and I was impressed by that.  Some nice desserts as well, but no real food – again, where’s the Beef??

-The layout of this tasting has always been strange – the Ron Reagan Building space is not easily laid out for booths because there are 3 rooms with 2 entrances and a maze to get around the event.  I always thought that there was very little thought taken into account about where wineries should be, for example Virginia wineries were pretty randomly spread out, but Maryland wineries had a cohesive group. 

-Uneven representation of geographical regions – there was a very good Spanish representation of wines, decent French and Italian, California was not bad, but South Africa, New Zealand and South America were “spotty”.  Maybe there are just too many wine regions of the world, but this event seems to focus on who’s willing to pay for booths, not so much what wines/countries would make a balanced event.

-No comment on the cooking/wine demonstrations – since you can barely get any food at these things and frankly since they’re sort of in the middle of the Grand Tasting, it just seems like a bunch of noise.  I think Dave McIntyre was wearing a nice tie or something, and Martin Yan seemed to be having a good time, one never knows..

Conclusion: The DC Wine and Food Expo has become a “generic” wine and food festival with limited regionality and adds very little to the wine tasting “scene” in Washington, D.C.  Call me biased – I totally am, I run www.tastedc.com full-time and I’m honest about that – but what do these “mega” events add to the food and wine scene?  Couldn’t more be done – for example, couldn’t there be more “real” food representation, how about some of the regional cheese associations from France and Italy, even the U.S.?  Even though the wine seminars may be unprofitable, they add panache and credibility to this event, and I think they’re a necessity.  And seriously, local is the mantra in food and wine, the Festival needs to showcase local food and wine producers, they are the stars that people cherish.  Maybe even have a tiny farmer’s market with some local cheeses/yogurt/pies/jellies, etc. And finally – what is wine without food?  Why is so much energy put into wine festivals/tastings without the food component?  Yes, there were cooking demonstrations, but until you try a blue cheese with a Port, or Pad Thai with a Riesling.  In an upscale well-educated market like Washington, D.C., people expect more and they should have it..

Charlie “I Drink On the Job” Adler