Winter Wine Tasting


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L’Espalier. Oleana. Ribelle. Sarma. Recognize any of these names? Frank McClelland’s L’Espalier has been the go-to for fine dining in the Boston area for more than 20 years, and Ana Sortun has been creating outrageously inventive Middle Eastern dishes for just over a decade at Oleana. New on the scene, and already earning rave reviews, are Sarma (also from Sortun) and Tim Maslow’s Ribelle. Two are Boston-area institutions, and two are the among the city’s hottest new restaurants. They all have a few things in common.

First, getting a reservation at any of them is a triumph. Second, they all employ some of Boston’s top wine directors, who cultivate unique and delicious wine lists that boast bottles that are guaranteed to be a treat. You can get exclusive access to these three wine directors, and taste some of their favorite wines, at the Winter Wine Tasting session at this year’s Eat Boutique Holiday Market.

Join Lauren Collins, Wine Director for L’Espalier; Theresa PaoPao, Wine Director for Ribelle; and Lauren Friel, Wine Director for Oleana and Sarma, in a discussion and tasting of some of their favorite small batch wines. I sat down with Meg, one of the Eat Boutique Market coordinators, to find out more about this workshop.

Question: What can a guest expect from the Winter Wine Tasting workshop?

Answer: Guests can expect to get an insider perspective from three of Boston’s top Wine Directors, two of which are currently opening new restaurants. The ladies will talk about the process they go through to find wines they love for their lists and will tell stories about those specific wines. You’ll hear about how each director is able to get certain wines for her restaurants, some of which have only 10 cases made each year, and how each of them advocates for Boston when fighting for wines with restaurants in New York City. The women will discuss the reasons why they focus on small production wines, and how those wines are superior to wines one might find in the mass market, both in terms of flavor and health benefits! Most importantly, you’ll get to taste some of the favorites from Lauren, Theresa, and Lauren. Each director will bring a sampling of her favorite wines, and you may taste as many as 20 wines over the course of the workshop.


Q: I know I’m sold. But who else should attend the workshop?

A: Anyone interested in food and wine should grab tickets. More specifically, people who are interested in getting off the beaten path and learning about some smaller production wines with more obscure names that they haven’t heard before. These wines have a story, and the winemakers aren’t earning tons of money but instead making these wines because they love them. And if you have a yearning to preserve old food ways, this workshop is for you.

Q: What will guests take away from the experience?

A: In the tasting portion, guests will have their palates opened. They’ll have grapes they’ve never tasted before. These small-batch winemakers use newer, varied winemaking techniques that the bigger houses cannot, so guests will get to try wines made with these techniques. They will also get insider information about what its like to be a Wine Director at a hot restaurant in Boston, what the challenges can be in putting together a wine list that is not so well known, and how you educate customers about the wines on that list.

The Winter Wine Tasting is going to be a conversation more than a class, and it’s all about having access to the Wine Directors. Normally a guest would have to go to the restaurant and order dinner and wine, and the Directors would be in more of a hurry to help them select one or two bottles. At the Tasting, guests will get to spend time with each of the Wine Directors and interact with them in a different way.

The Winter Wine Tasting will be held from 1:30-2:30 pm in the DEMO room.  Tickets are $20 each and participation is limited to 75 guests. I know I’ll be there, and I hope to see you too!

The Eat Boutique Boston Holiday Market is on Saturday, December 7, 2013. Buy your tickets here for our annual holiday event! We look forward to shopping and sampling with you.

Photos courtesy of Jill Chen and Heidi/White Loft Style.

Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagramTumblr and Pinterest.


Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.