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Get your groove on at Wine Riot

Posted by Ellen Bhang  April 6, 2013 09:17 AM

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When the doors of Park Plaza Castle opened at 7 o'clock, these rioters hit the floor, eager to learn about wine along with hundreds of fellow hipsters.

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Wine Riot, a twice-yearly tasting produced by Second Glass kicked off its 2013 national tour in Boston on Friday night. This event (sold out the entire weekend) is not your average walk-around. Crowds of 20- and 30-somethings in skinny jeans, stemless recyclable glasses in hand, were entertained by a DJ pumping out tunes on a club-worthy sound system. (We assure you it was bumpin'.)

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Armed with the Second Glass smart phone app to rate each pour, they sampled more than 250 wines from 70 winemakers from New Bedford to Bordeaux. Ooey gooey treats from Roxy's Gourmet Grilled Cheese and Aussie meat pies from KO Catering and Pies were on offer to soak up the sips. And did we mention the photo booth with props like sombreros and feather boas? Or if posing for the camera is not your thing, how about a temporary tattoo?

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But lest you think this is all mindless revelry, it's really wine education (we swear!) packaged for the next generation of wine drinkers. No stuffy wine-speak here. Just ask John Hafferty of Bin Ends, on hand to provide wine education. Under the banner of "Old World vs. New World," he and his crew conducted a compare-and-contrast of two merlot blends -- a Haut-Medoc Bordeaux vs. a Napa Valley Meritage. "We designed it so tasters can try them [side-by-side], taste the differences, and see what they like." Rioters could also attended 20-minute seminars. The one we attended was hosted by Tyler Balliet, founder and CEO of Second Glass, highlighting California wines from Paso Robles. Although cordoned off from the main exhibit floor, the ambient soundtrack curtailed any in-depth education. But no worries. It was probably no worse than studying with your ear-buds in.

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Most tasters rolled in with friends. We spotted a group of four sporting Wine Riot T-shirts they silk-screened themselves. Asked how they heard about the event, Cassandra, a talented designer of steampunk jewelry, pointed to her wine enthusiast friend Greg, who spearheads their urban wine adventures along with friends Stephen and Ana. Adam and Maria, a young couple sampling wines at the Languedoc booth, shared that this is their "crash course" before a summer trip to France.

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Fred, from JP, along with pals David and Nat from the South End, are all west coast transplants. You couldn't shut them up about Boston's food and wine scene even if you tried. Like us, these friends can't wait until October. That's when Wine Riot returns to Boston for a groovy round #2. We'll be there -- skinny jeans and all.

Ellen Bhang

About By the Glass

Ellen Bhang writes about food and wine and reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe. Wine is the focus of her degree in the Gastronomy master's program at Boston University. She can be reached at


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