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


Joining the Bandwagon

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Drink Well, Tried and Trues, Wine apps, Wine Reviews

I am not what you would call an “early adopter”.  Recovering technophobe might actually be a more appropriate term.

But wine apps are all the rage these days, and enough of my readers and clients use them that I thought it was high time I finally took the plunge to see what all the fuss was about.

As of last week, I became a featured user on Vivino wine app- the largest in the world.  I’m still getting the hang of all of the advanced features, but so far I’ve found it to be really user friendly (a must!).  It’s been a great tool to track wines that I enjoy with some simple tasting notes in a matter of minutes.

bottlessIf you are  looking to keep track of the wines you enjoy, I’ve found it to be far more efficient than my old “snap a label shot” method since they are all kept tidily in one spot…not so with my photo stream since I can get a little snap happy!

Oh yes, and it’s FREE to join.

Follow me on Vivino at “Bon Vivant” to see what I’m currently sipping!

Do you use a wine app?  If so, which one?



*This post was NOT sponsored by Vivino.

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Pink Party

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Charity, Events, Pink Party, Rosé, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews

Stage Four.  Those aren’t words anyone wants to hear when it comes to breast cancer.

My Mom and sisters on Mother's Day last May.

My Mom and sisters on Mother’s Day. May, 2014.

My mom grew up Westchester County, New York, born to South Carolinian parents.  She attended boarding school at Madeira, where she was an equestrian.  She made her debut at the International Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria, joined Tri-Delta and later the Junior League of Atlanta.

In short, this is not a woman you would expect to shave a faux hawk.  And it’s definitely not a woman you would expect to dye said faux hawk pink.

So when she decided that’s what she wanted to do, my sisters dubbed it “The Pink Party” and like proper southerners, we ran with it.

Because when life throws you “The C word”,  sometimes you’ve got to throw a little sparkling rosé and joie de vivre back at it.

A family silver tray was polished to present a flight of rosé wine, which was generously donated by Andrew Stover, of Vino 50 wines.

rose flight of wine

Hillinger makes a delicious sparkling wine, a portion of the proceeds benefiting Breast Cancer Research.  For the past 5 years, they have donated 10,000 Euros a year with proceeds from their pink ribbon label- a refreshing secco made from 100% pinot noir.  When menu planning and selecting wines, it was the obvious choice.

When cancer strikes, you either accept the diagnosis lying down, or you carpe your diem.  My Mom has done the latter.

Since her diagnosis 4+ years ago she has traveled to Italy, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, France, Montreal, Scotland, the Grand Canyon.  She made the move to Maryland with her service animal and companion, Maggie, a rescue Doberman Pinscher from the Dawson County Humane Society in Georgia.



The affair was civilized as these things go- we all wore pink.  A family member, also a breast cancer survivor, sent a mass of hot pink roses. The luncheon was comprised of pink food and drink as we listened to a sound track of Frank Sinatra, Bon Iver and Norah Jones. The hair dye was applied as we sipped Hillinger in my bathroom, and “set” as the tomato flat bread bubbled in the oven.  As one does.



So if life has thrown you a curve ball lately, remember that it’s possible to celebrate even in the midst of dark and scary times.  In fact, it is perhaps even more important to do so.  So pop a cork, support a good cause while doing so, and live the good life.  It’s what wine is all about.


The wines:

Hillinger Sparkling Rosé, Pink Ribbon Label

Made from 100% pinot noir, this Austrian secco is lightly refreshing with notes of red fruit and strawberry.  Enjoy as an aperitif at your own pink party!

Stone Hill Sparkling Rosé

This Methode Champenoise bubbly from Missouri (yes, Missouri!) is a blend of Vidal Blanc and Chambourcin.  Its slightly more fruit forward style and dry finish paired well with our luncheon, and even better with the strawberry compote. Only 200 cases produced.

Boe Brookly Oenology Cabernet Franc Rosé

This rosé is comprised of 100% Cabernet Franc.  Slightly tart with cranberry and raspberry on the palette, this dry, still wine hails from the finger lakes region of New York.  Delicious on its own or paired with light appetizers.

Our chemo friendly menu (no raw fruits or veggies allowed!):

  • Sparkling pink grapefruit juice
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Genoa Salami & Cheese (the only non-pink item served, but it’s not a party without a cheese plate!)
  • Tomato and feta flat bread
  • Strawberry Lemon cake served with stewed strawberry compote

pink party food

To purchase the Hillinger wine we enjoyed, visit Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits, DCanter, or Sherry’s in DC.

To donate to Breast Cancer Research, click here.

To donate to the shelter where Maggie was adopted, click here.







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Why it’s Important to Remember your Roots

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Wine Bloggers Conference

It’s taken me a while to digest all of the incredible experiences of my inaugural Wine Bloggers Conference, and I hesitated to post this, but Drink What You Like has encouraged us all to join hands and sing along.  And so I shall, Frank, because you’ve never steered me wrong before.


The biggest takeaway from my first Wine Bloggers Conference is this: remember your roots.

Maybe it’s the 300 years of southern heritage ingrained into my being, the years of cotillion and white-gloved etiquette lessons (yes, we still do that where I’m from!).  Where I’m from, people smile a lot.  I was taught that when I’m at a professional conference to be “on”, engaged, making introductions. Please don’t confuse that energy for youth- it’s the four shots of espresso I just had and years of hard wiring.

It’s the fact that I respect trailblazers in the field of wine writing and blogging enough to shake their hands with a smile, to make elevator introductions, to share a glass of wine and hopefully to learn from them. I believe that honey catches more flies than vinegar. I also believe that honesty doesn’t have to come wrapped in barbed wire.

Winemakers who neglect their rootstock suffer the consequences.  There is no amount of cellar manipulation and marketing that can fix phylloxera.  Ya know what can? Grafting what doesn’t work with what does; marrying new world with old.

Just as winemakers must adapt, so must wine writers.  And I’d like to think we can do so with a bit more hospitality and grace (and certainly more espresso.) Call me old-fashioned.  Call me East Coast.  Call me naïve, or young, or inexperienced.

Whichever of these things I may be, I was shocked at the frenzy of posts and commentary in the aftermath of the conference.  People are too young, too old, too white, too male.  They’re over-qualified, over-paid members of a dying field.  They’re too perky. Wines were too Napa, or too corporate, or not from “real” wine country. I know we all have opinions (narcissism perhaps?), but too many people seem to have replaced their manners with egos somewhere along the line.

(By the way, that’s why people don’t like wine professionals.  They think we’re snobs. People don’t like snobs- they DO like wine.)

I’d like to think that if people would let the egos go, we could all learn a bit more- from the panelists and from one other, old guard and new.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t also acknowledge the plethora of absolutely lovely people I met in California: Twitter friends, acquaintances turned friends, winemakers and strangers alike who took this rookie under their wing with a smile, advice, airport pickups, impromptu road trips, a glass of wine chilled in a heart shaped tub (who knew those still existed?!). So thank you- for the invitations and guidance, kind words and smiles. It was an outstanding few days and I look forward to seeing you all next year.



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Write Drunk, Edit Sober

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Events, Wineries and Vineyards

I believe it was Hemingway who uttered these infamous words (although there is certainly some debate!).  In any regard, sometimes it’s easier said than done!

I’ve just come back from the Wine Bloggers Conference in the Santa Ynez Valley, California, and so it is somewhat ironic that I’ve been in something of a writing drought.

wine sculpture

I met hundreds of passionate people committed to putting words on a screen to inspire, to document, to promote; countless wine makers and vineyard owners.  I saw the grapes turning from green to purple, embarked on solo winery visits and road trips with friends, tasted wines and saw places and met people that have me inspired and excited.

And yet, here I sit.  Hands hovering over my keyboard for the last several weeks.  Countless posts saved to “drafts”.

I think it’s hard sometimes to communicate what is inherently, for me, an intensely social experience.  There is a sense of communion when sharing a glass of wine or food with someone.  However, writing is an intensely solitary experience- most often done late at night when the house is still and quiet.

This conference was anything but- it was engaging in the most frenetic of ways.  It was simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.

1 of the hundreds of tweets I sent.  What we were doing when we weren't tasting.

Caught sending one of the hundreds of tweets I sent- what we were doing when we weren’t tasting. Follow along @districtwino!

And so here I am.  Filled up past the brim with experiences and tasting notes, unable to quite distill everything down into a 300 word post.  It’s still fermenting.  So for now I’ll leave you with a few photos.

Grape Clusters at Malibu Family Winery

Grape Clusters at Malibu Family Winery


Yes, the one from "Sideways".  It was divine.

Yes, the one from “Sideways”. It was divine.

Tasting Amarone from Banfi Vintners

Tasting Amarone from Banfi Vintners

Enjoying a moment in the afternoon sun

Enjoying a moment in the afternoon sun


Post conference excursion to Santa Barbara

Post conference excursion to Santa Barbara

What’s inspiring you lately? Any other wine writers out there suffering from over-stimulation?



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Tried & True: Summer Edition

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Holidays, Porch wine, Tried and Trues, Wine Recommendations, Wineries and Vineyards

Gone Camping…

I’m headed to the mountains of North Carolina today for a camping trip and one of the wines I’ll be bringing with me is a tried and true we order by the case chez Marriott. (Yes, I take wine camping.)

pewsey vale dry riesling

Pewsey Vale Eden Valley Dry Riesling

It’s a wine I’ve poured at a number of tastings and brought to countless dinner parties.  It was even on our Thanksgiving table this year!

Invariably, when I say I’m pouring an Australian riesling an eyebrow or two is lifted, but there’s always a fight over the last splash.

It’s wonderfully bright and acidic with crisp citrus notes, light minerality, and a bone dry finish.  The high acidity makes it extremely food friendly, and it makes an excellent porch wine all on its own! It retails for around $15-$16.

So branch out this summer and give this tried and true a try- you won’t regret it.

What are your tried and trues? Have you ever packed wine on a camping trip?


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