The weather outside is frightful. And yet there's something quite warm and delightful:
It's time for the 20th Boston Wine Expo, which despite frigid January temperatures, will attract enthusiasts from far and wide to the Hub for fine spirits, food, demonstrations and educational opportunities.
"It went pretty quick," said show director Ed Hurley, part of the expo for the last 15 years, of the rate at which the event has grown.
What started as a small gathering of wine lovers has turned into an event attracting sell-out crowds of 16,000 people. These days, the festival limits ticket sales to 12,000.
"We want it to be less crowded, so folks can really talk to wine makers, not just stand in line for a sample," Hurley said. "The show was created to provide wine education to consumers, so they could really learn and do not get too confused about wine."
The Expo's main event is its Grand Tasting, featuring wines from all over the world and more than 100 food and lifestyle vendors.
All wine and food samples are included with admission, plus chef demonstrations by famed local chefs Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger, Jasper White of Jasper White's Summer Shack, Michael Schlow of Radius, Via Matta and Alta Strada, Gordon Hamersley of Hamerlsey's Bistro, Paul O'Connell of Chez Henri and other local favorites on two demonstrations stages.
Also included are "mini" wine clinics led by wine makers who will teach the secrets of their wines in 30-minute sessions and a retailer center where visitors can order wine sampled at the show.
The regular seminar program offers something for people at all levels of wine knowledge. Presenters include Ray Isle, executive wine editor of Food & Wine magazine; Leslie Sbrocco, founder of Thirsty Girl; Gloria Maroti Frazee, director of education, Wine Spectator; and best-selling author Mark Oldman.
The event features 26 seminars over two days, ranging from Wine 101 classes to in-depth explorations of wine regions, such as Chile's Elqui.
"We've really kicked up our seminar program," Hurley said. "We've got more advanced sessions that are really high end."
For the most ardent wine lovers, the expo features a Grand Wine Lounge with samplings of rare and expensive vintages available before bottles are purchased.
Located in a private room away from the Grand Tasting, the Grand Cru, as it is called, features wines starting at $75 a bottle, paired with treats from the top restaurants in the city.
IF YOU GO
What: 20th annual Boston Wine Expo
When: Saturday, Jan. 22, and Sunday, Jan. 23, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Seaport World Trade Center, 1 Seaport Lane, Boston
How: Tickets are $110 one-day Grand Tasting, $145 for a two-day Grand Tasting and $175 for the Grand Cru Wine Lounge, featuring rare and expensive wines, available at WineExpoBoston.com and 877-946-3976.