Bon Vivant: (n) a person having cultivated, refined, and sociable tastes especially with respect to food and drink.

Blog

Bastille Day Celebrations in DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Champagne, DC events, Drink Well, Events, Holidays

Looking to celebrate Bastille Day in style?  It’s one of my favorite excuses (like I need one!) to indulge in some of my favorite French delicacies. Tomorrow is the 227th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille, so don your best red, white & bleu and raise a glass of champagne!

I’ll be celebrating at Michel Richard’s Central, which is featuring a special 3 course menu of french bistro faves for just $55. They will also be featuring specialty cocktail, wine and beer as well as live entertainment from the Blue Room Jazz Band!

Central

Central

If you prefer to celebrate with a special glass of vin Eno Wine Bar is offering a Bastille Day flight and 30% off all bottles of French wines.

For live French music, check out Café du Parc or Sofitel (register here!)

And for an all day celebration, complete with mimes, check out Le Diplomat, which will also be offering specialty cocktails and pastries throughout the day.

To celebrate at home, check out Weygandt Wines‘, superb collection of French wines.  They’re offering 20% off French bottles!

How will you be celebrating Bastille Day? 

cheers

 

 

 

Read More

#LanguedocDay

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Bubbly, Entertaining, Event Planning, Holidays, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wine Shops, Wine Tasting

The storm clouds in DC have finally given us a break and many people are planning outdoor entertaining for Memorial Day Weekend. What you may not know is that today is also #LanguedocDay.

Picpoult Edit

Wine “days” seem to be a dime a dozen these days, but what I love about this particular one is that it breaks people out of wine ruts and raises awareness about an unsung region in the Southwest of France that offers incredible quality at affordable prices.

 

When Wines of Languedoc approached me about reviewing some of their wines, I was excited- mainly because I happen to love them, but also because they were focused on quality, with only AOP (Appelation d’origine contrôlée) designated wines. Though the region is often known for its bulk wine production, only 10% of wine from the region receives AOP designation, meaning stricter sourcing and production guidelines, but also higher quality wines.

It also gave me an opportunity to invite some friends over to chime in with their own opinions! We took advantage of a gorgeous DC day and threw a garden party.

Ladies with Rose Edit
Wines from the Languedoc lend themselves exceptionally well to entertaining. They’re accessible wines in both flavor profile and price- 2 things that make them prime candidates for any party wine!
The bar set up for easy access for guests to serve themselves. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water keep guests hydrated!

The bar was set up for guests to easily serve themselves and sample all of the wines. Sparkling water and a carafe of cucumber lemon water kept guests hydrated!

On the menu:

Table Spread Edit copy

  • Homemade pimento cheese with ritz crackers- a must for any southern garden party!
  • Crudité platter with hummus
  • Orzo pasta salad
  • Fruit platter
  • Assorted olives, nuts, charcuterie and artisanal cheeses

Don’t forget:

  • To hydrate: I like to serve cucumber lemon water and sparkling water.
  • The bugs:  These pretty citronella candles give off a gorgeous glow while keeping the bugs at bay.
These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

These citronella candles not only give off a gorgeous glow, they keep pesky bugs at bay!

The wines:

All of these, with the exception of the Crémant, are available at Weygandt Wines.  They’ve been kind enough to offer readers 15% off if you mention this post! Stop by to stock up for any weekend entertaining you might be planning.
Cheers!

Cheers!

Montfin Corbieres $13.99

This wine offers lovely red fruit with some earthy undertones. I noticed plum, red pepper and leather notes with medium tannin and acidity.

 

Montfin Rosé $13.99

This easy going rosé was a crowd favorite on such a gorgeous day!  Dry, with notes of white peach and raspberrry.

Arbalète Coquelicots $17.99

This wine showed best after it cooled off a bit. Red fruit, a hint of baking spice and lovely earthy qualities.

Picpoul de Pinet $11.99

Crisp and light with notes of apple, pear and citrus.  This is a warm weather no brainer!

Saint-Hilaire Crémant de Limoux $15

This crémant was both festive and accessible at a fraction of the cost of champagne!  Crisp with notes of pear and soft floral notes.

Have you tried Languedoc wines?  If not, this weekend is a great opportunity to do so.  To learn even more check out L’Aventure Languedoc, a celebration of Languedoc AOP wines throughout June, coming to Seattle and Washington DC. Click here for more information!

cheers

Read More

Travel Tips by Bon Vivant DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Helpful Hints, Travel, Tried and Trues

I am on a month long trip through Europe tasting, eating and drinking outstanding wines, meeting incredible people in stunning places.  And so I thought it only appropriate to share some of my tried and true travel tips for getting the most out of  your next vacation!

The best laid plans…Things often go awry no matter how carefully a trip is planned. We have so little control over things like weather, travel delays, overbooked flights, etc. Go in knowing this with a few tools at your disposal.

Be nice to customer service. Anyone in the service industry likely deals with disgruntled, tired, rude customers every.single.day. However, they often have discretion to accommodate or even upgrade a few customers if at all possible. Remember the old adage: “honey catches more flies than vinegar!”

Learn to say a few key phrases.  No matter where I’m traveling, I always learn to say hello, please, thank you, excuse me and cheers!  It’s amazing how little effort these 5 words take to learn in even the most difficult languages, but I view it as an issue of cultural politeness. Often, it is rewarded with a more authentic travel experience, tips from locals, a better table, or even a complimentary glass of wine.

Talk to locals. While it’s great to have a travel plan, avoid hitting too many tourist traps by seeking out local advice.  This can be as easy as recruiting the hive mind on social media or chatting up a bartender or barista during off peak hours.

Go with the flow. If you find yourself overtired, give yourself a break.  If you and your travel companions aren’t seeing eye to eye, give each other a break! Remember that your cup of tea (or in my case today: Madeira!) might not be someone else’s.

Have a plan, but don’t forget to build in some down time.  If you spend your entire vacation checking things off a list, you’re far less likely to enjoy your trip.  Some of my favorite travel memories have taken place during the half day that I’ve blocked off with nothing scheduled.  Talk to other travelers to see what they’ve enjoyed most (or found underwhelming!).  Even if this time is merely spent people watching in a cafe or browsing a market, this time often results in restorative and exciting trip memories!

Embrace the local culture. Try the local specialty.  Listen to some local music. Respect cultural etiquette. Your trip will be greatly enriched by these authentic touches.

 

cheers

Read More

Cheers!

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Drink Well, Entertaining, Helpful Hints, Travel, Upcoming Events, Wine Bloggers Conference

I always end my blog posts with “Cheers,” and so I thought it only appropriate to share this anecdote from Mallorca.

sparkling wine against vineyard view

As round after round of wine was served, we clinked glasses and toasted to the island, the nearly lost boat from an excursion earlier that day, to our hosts, really to anything on what had turned into a magical evening.

“But do you know why we clink glasses?” asked one of my dining companions?

If you research this question on the internet you’ll likely come across various theories relating to scaring off spirits, or even more nefarious Game of Thrones-esque theories- to ensure the wine wasn’t poisoned!

Bennesár, once again, came through with a simple, yet profound, answer.

“Wine is to be experienced with all five senses: We can see, smell, taste, even feel the wine on our tongues, but this is so we might hear it.”

Whatever the reason, this is the one I like best, and so I’m stickin’ to it!

As I depart for my 2nd Wine Bloggers Conference, I’m sure there will be many occasions to toast, and his words will surely be echoing in my ears.

A few quick tips for offering a toast:

  • Always meet everyone in the eye!  It is considered quite rude in many cultures not to do so.
  • It is considered bad luck to drink water during a toast, although it’s perfectly acceptable to raise your glass.
  • When a toast is offered in your honor, be sure to raise your glass, but it is not proper etiquette to drink to yourself!
  • Sincerity is key, but so is brevity!  Keep it short and witty, and be sure to end on a positive note, no matter the occasion.

And so to all of my readers, my incredible hosts in Mallorca, and my wine friends I’ll be seeing in a few short hours:

cheers

 

 

Read More

Bread. Oil. Wine.

Posted in: Behind the Scenes, Bon Vivant, Drink Well, Foodie, On the Road, Tried and Trues

I recently returned from an outstanding trip to Spain, and while I enjoyed an amazing array of food and wine adventures, one dinner in particular stood out.

I initially opted to visit Mallorca because I fell in love with a wine from the island, but I had no idea that my quest to see the winery in person would lead me to experience the island in such a unique manner.

We were eating at the Michelin starred Cuina De la Terra in Capdepera with our hosts, family friends, and the venerated Mallorcan artist Joan Bennàssar, who has written extensively about local wine.  While discussing wine, art, culture, and island history, Bennàssar made a comment in passing that stuck with me.

He swept his hand towards the wheat swaying in the breeze nearby,

“This, we turn to bread.”  ”Olives, oil,” he gestured to the green tinged oil in the hand blown glass, “and grapes, into wine. And this. This is what makes us civilized.”

It was one of those moments where time stood still for me.

Mallorca is a place that is intrinsically connected to the land.  Its inhabitants are fiercely protective and proud of its unique heritage, which gets harder and harder to preserve in the face of overwhelming tourism. The Medieval castle of Capdepera, one of the last villages on the island unspoiled by tourism, was uplit behind me and I was enjoying an outstanding meal with friends I haven’t seen in over a decade, outstanding hosts, and one of the great artists of our time.

But really, it’s the simple things that make us civilized.

autographing his book

Autographing his book, “The Wine I Drink Tastes of the Sea”

wine and art

With Bennàsar in front of one of his paintings at Cuina De la Terra

We lingered at the table for 5 hours over far too many bottles of wine, and then took a tour of Bennàssar’s works on the property. In this age of smart phones, concrete jungles, and the importance of being busy it was truly a night to remember.

cheers

Read More