Explore: Boston Wine School and Union Square Donuts Tasting

I have a lot of friends who, like me, work in the marketing and communications field. But I also have plenty of friends who don't and one of the most common questions they ask me about social media is, "What is the point of Twitter?"

Well my friends, without Twitter, I never would have seen the news that the Boston Wine School and Union Square Donuts were partnering up for a tasting event.

I follow Eventbrite Boston on Twitter (@BriteBoston) and while I was scrolling through my feed, I saw them tweet about the upcoming event.

I immediately sent the event link to my friend and coworker who is a donut fanatic. So much so, she and her husband had donuts in lieu of cake at their wedding. Within fifteen minutes, we were both registered for the class.

When event day rolled around it was muggy, cloudy and spitting raining. The event was happening at the Boston Wine School, which is on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston. I had a feeling parking would be super tough (it even said so on the school's website), so I took an Uber.

I had never been to the Boston Wine School before. It's hidden beneath the giant "Liquors" sign on the corner of Comm Ave and Scottfield Road. I do love the mural painted on the side wall of the building.

The windows of the space are draped in purple gauzy fabric, keeping the happenings inside a secret from those passing by on the sidewalk.

Once you step inside, the space is long, narrow and full of light. I was immediately fantasizing about what kind of private party I could throw here.

Along the exposed brick wall on the right hand side is a series of chalkboards, including one with international times zones (all key wine regions) and the school's social media channels and official hashtag. Very smart!

This chalkboard is my favorite.

The class was scheduled to begin at noon and just as the clock struck 12:00pm our wine educator for the day, Beth, began to talk through how the class would work. She explained that we would be having six pairings, each with one type of wine and one flavor of donut. I felt like I needed to pinch myself.

After Beth's remarks, we were introduced to Josh, one of the founders of Union Square Donuts. I don't know about you, but I can't remember a place in Boston having as much underground buzz as there has been for Union Square Donuts. Everyone I know is obsessed with them and seeks them out at all the farmer's markets, at SoWa and of course, at their storefront in Union Square.

Josh told us the story of how he and his brother got into the donut business and how excited they are to be expanding into a new, bigger space in Somerville this fall. One of the comments he made that really stood out to me was, "We love the sensory memory of food. It can really bring you back to a happy place and time."

He also explained that each of their recipes begins with a dough originating from a brioche dough and then they focus on a glaze with the freshest ingredients. While Josh was talking I was doing my best to pay attention, but I was supremely distracted by the army of donuts lined up on the counter.

Each person received their own plate of donuts and each donut was cut into thirds so you didn't overdose on deliciousness.

To start, we each took a donut plate from the counter and began to follow along as we worked our way through the six course program for the afternoon.

For each round, you walked up to one of two wine stations and had your glass filled by either Beth or this charming gentleman. Though he poured all of our glasses, I never got his name! He had the warmest smile.

Pairing #1 was a Dibon Cava and the creamsicle donut. I love sparkling wine, so I was overjoyed that this was our first glass.

When you sipped the Cava and then took a bite of the donut, the hint of orange in the donut gave you a mimosa-like taste in your mouth. What a genius combination!

Pairing #2 was a Willm Gentil, a blend of Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Bianco and Mucat. It was paired with the vanilla bean donut. Josh mentioned to the group that this donut's glaze is made from all real vanilla bean. He joked, "Trust me, it would be a lot easier to use artificial vanilla flavoring, but we just can't bring ourselves to do that. Has to be the real deal."

I wouldn't drink this Willm Dentil wine on its own again, but it was actually quite nice coupled with the vanilla bean.

As we were getting ready for Paring #3, Beth asked the group, "Who usually hates Chardonnay?" My hand flew up, as Chardonnay is my least favorite white wine. She explained that the McManis Chardonnay we would be tasting doesn't have the qualities that usually illicit that reaction and all the nay sayers should give it a chance.

The Chardonnay was paired with the toasted coconut donut. I love coconut so I was particularly excited for this one.

While the wine didn't convert me (I tried!), this was one of my favorite donuts. Josh said people had been asking them to make a coconut donut since the very beginning of the business. It reminded me of the coconut Dunkin Donut munchkins I used to devour as a kid.

Pairing #4 was the Fleur Pinot Noir and the strawberry donut. When we went to have our glasses filled, I couldn't help but notice the pretty label on this bottle.

Before we dug in, Josh explained that the glaze for this donut is made from a mix of fresh strawberries and frozen strawberries, to get the maximum berry taste. The fruit in the glaze and the strong fruit notes of the red wine were a great pair. I liked this wine paired with the coconut donut as well.

At this point, we were starting to make a pretty serious dent in each of our donut pieces and we were definitely buzzing from four full glasses of wine.

Pairing #5 was the Domaine Grosbois Le Cusine de ma Mere Chinon (or just Chinon for short) with Union Square Donuts' most popular flavor, the maple bacon donut. Beth explained that the autumnal notes in the wine would compliment the maple in the donut, delivering a symphony of fall flavors.

Josh confirmed that the maple bacon donut is their most popular and always the first one to sell out. They take their ingredients very seriously and all the maple they use comes from a mom and pop sugar shack in Vermont.

Because I'm a vegetarian, I just ate the bottom of the donut and then offered the top part to my fellow classmates. They acted coy for about 30 seconds before pouncing on the pieces.

Now, though Beth had mentioned we were doing six courses, we only had five donuts on our plate, so I was confused. All of a sudden (or what seemed like all of a sudden after five glasses of wine) the counter was full again, this time with individual pieces of the Boston cream pie donut.

Hello, lover.

This dessert donut was paired with our last glass of the day, the Chateau La Croix Lugagnac Bourdeaux. Our table couldn't help but crack a few "Waiting for Bourdeaux" jokes.

I couldn't even tell you if I liked this wine or not because I was so into the donut. The chocolate frosting was thick, decadent and rich and the pastry cream inside was pure heaven. I actually wiped up the last drops on the plate with my finger and licked it. Yup. That happened.

Whenever I know I am going to write about a meal or an event I take notes in my phone. After finishing the Boston cream pie donut I actually typed, "Best donut by far. I want to propose to this donut."

After we concluded the six pairings, we still had about forty minutes left in the class so Beth and Josh had us experiment with different combinations of the wines and the donuts. They had met before the class to determine the pairings (imagine how fun that was) and now they were letting us play around too. This extra forty minute window is like the last hour of a wedding when the open bar really starts to show itself in the behavior of the guests.

Toward the end of the class we were lucky enough to get some one on one time with Josh and get to know him a bit better. One of the people at our table asked him how it feels to sell out of their donuts every day and he said, "We go from making dreams come true to crushing dreams, all with that last donut. When we run out, I feel generations of Jewish guilt just raining down on me."

Josh also told us about some of the experimenting his team is doing with everything from savory donuts to breakfast donuts to how to fit ice cream inside of donuts. Donut ice cream cones? I am so in.

He also shared that they will be bringing back the pumpkin spice donut and a molasses donut for the fall, so there is that to look forward to.

As people were beginning to rustle and prepare to head home, Josh walked from table to table with white paper bags so folks could take their extra donut pieces home.

As we were leaving, Beth did one final toast and thanked us all for joining in the Boston Wine School's first ever wine and donut pairing class. If I may say so, it was a huge success!

In addition to the fantastic pairings, we also had a table of amazing fellow classmates. Though we were strangers at the start of the class, by the end we were cracking up, sharing stories and even planning a reunion meet up at Union Square Donuts.

If you aren't already following the Boston Wine School and Union Square Donuts, I highly recommend keeping tabs on both of them.

Have you ever done a food and wine pairing class?


Molly Galler

Welcome to Pop.Bop.Shop. My name is Molly. I’m a foodie, fashionista, pop culture addict and serious travel junkie. I’m a lifelong Bostonian obsessed with frozen confections, outdoor patios, Mindy Kaling, reality television, awards shows, tropical vacations, snail mail and my birthday.

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Boston Wine School
1354 Commonwealth Avenue
02134 Boston , MA
United States
Massachusetts US