Restaurateurs and chefs are fond of saying that this time of year is “quiet” in the food business. If that ever was the case, it certainly is not this year. No sooner had we hung up our new calendars (or waited that nanosecond for our electronic devices to update their calendar settings) than we are already off and running with a full slate of food festivals and wine-tasting events that should make the winter fly by.
The Sun WineFest at Mohegan Sun kicks off the season over the weekend of Jan. 25-27. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the event and all of the features that have made this a major festival are scheduled to return. The headliner is the Grand Tasting featuring beer and spirits, in addition to wines paired with signature dishes from restaurants in Mohegan Sun, including Jasper White’s Summer Shack and from the Hartford area as well as “The Meat Man,” reality TV star and purveyor Pat LaFrieda.
An oyster-shucking contest and a grape stomp, in which 16 teams will vie to get the most juice out of a measured amount of grapes, are also on the schedule. Scheduled to appear at the Sun Wine Fest are Food Network stars Robert Irvine and Donatella Arpaia, along with some of the resident celebrities whose names are on some of Mohegan Sun’s restaurants, including Bobby Flay and Todd English. Chefs Flay, English, Irvine and White, with others including Rhode Island favorite Mary Ann Esposito, will appear in cooking demonstrations at a Celebrity Chef Dine Around.
Next up is the “granddaddy of them all,” the Boston Wine Expo, popping corks for over two decades at the Seaport Hotel World Trade Center in Boston. This year’s expo is being held later in the year than in the past, over the weekend of Feb. 16-17. The event has returned to its roots as a wine-tasting and education event. One of the sponsors of the expo is the Society of Wine Educators.
Featured as headliners are a couple from two heritage-winemaking families, Jean-Charles Boisset and Gina Gallo, who have been married since 2009. Talk about a power couple! The pair will appear to speak and conduct tastings of select wines from their family collections from California and France. There will be celebrity chefs as well featuring David Venable of the home-shopping channel QVC show, “In The Kitchen” with David, as well as chefs from the Boston area, including Barbara Lynch, Andy Husbands and Kevin Long.
The expo will have a Social Media Lounge in the center of the Grand Tasting, with large video screens linked to the show’s mobile apps to track which wines attendees “like best” in real time.