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

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Dîner en Blanc DC

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Diner en Blanc, Drink Well, Events

This time last week I was embarking on the dining experience of the year- part flash-mob, part gourmet picnic, Dîner en Blanc was a spectacular affair Washington has been ready for.  DC’s inaugural event has been 3 years in the making and took place during the 25th anniversary year of the storied French tradition.

On my way!

On my way!

Setting up our tablescape.  Photo courtesy of Justthebottle.

Setting up our tablescape. Photo courtesy of Justthebottle.

Originally a French affair among friends, the experience has morphed into an exclusive event held in over 50 cities world wide.  The basic premise: participants register through an exclusive system, don all white, and descend upon a secret location to dine on gourmet food and wine.

Having fun with friends in front of the Moët Ice Tower, official sponsor of the event.

Having fun with wine and food blogging friends in front of the Moët Ice Tower, official sponsor of the event.

These ladies are a lot of fun and all have great wine and food blogs! From left to right: Lisa, Christina, Laetitia, (DeB group leader), Katie, (DeB Table Leader).

The rules are strict- diners must adhere to guidelines regarding attire, table size, and more.  The event is not without some major effort on the part of participants (just try schlepping a table, 2 chairs, a 4 course gourmet picnic and table setting on the metro during rush hour!)

However, the end result is a one of a kind evening that balances food, wine, music, dancing, and camaraderie among friends.

Our tablescape

Our table

A toast with a friend, Jackie, from Bookalokal DC

A toast with a friend, Jackie, from Bookalokal DC

Sparklers at dusk, a 25 year old tradition!

Sparklers at dusk, a 25 year old tradition!

The menu:

  • Cheese Plate (from Sona Creamery)- this was great to share with friends!
  • Chilled Gazpacho topped with feta
  • Baby Arugula topped with seared sirloin, Parmesan, aged Balsamic Vinegar and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Macarons (from Sweet Lobby)
La Tur- an outstanding blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.   “Rachel” Semi-soft Goat’s milk cheese “Zamorano”- a hard sheep’s milk cheese produced in Virginia.  Similar to Manchengo, but a bit zestier

La Tur- an outstanding blend of cow, sheep and goat’s milk.
“Rachel” Semi-soft Goat’s milk cheese.
“Zamorano”- a hard sheep’s milk cheese produced in Virginia. Similar to Manchengo, but a bit zestier.
Marcona Almonds

(If you’re counting, yes, that’s five types of cheese;)

Bon Vivant Tips for Enjoying Dîner en Blanc:

  • Bring a container to keep your wine chilled
  • Bring ICE and lots of it.  The wines that were supposed to be chilled were not even remotely at serving temperature. Most of my ice had melted by the time I arrived.
  • Bring shoes for walking- I changed into heels after arriving
  • Once you’ve signed up with your “group”, there’s no changing it!
  • If you have a request or an accommodation, be NICE to the organizers.  They receive dozens of emails a day with people making various requests or even complaining.  I’ve heard that many of these emails were not so nice. Remember the old adage about honey catching more flies than vinegar!
  • Do a set up dry run.  Once I figured out how to assemble my table it was a breeze, but it took a while to initially figure out and I saw others struggling the evening of.  I also downsized to smaller plates and a lighter vase after my dry run. I cannot emphasize this tip enough!
  • Consider purchasing or renting a luggage carrier.  Although my trolley toppled a few times due to escalator bumps or curbs, it was collapsible and fit under the table, per DeB regulations.
  • While keeping things light and compact is key to successful schlepping, I was happy I packed a few of my favorite pieces to make my table a bit more elegant.  I compromised by renting lighter chairs, and chose to bring a silver champagne bucket and marble cheese board.
  • Things not to forget: hand sanitizer, bug spray, shout wipes or a tide pen, wine key, water, trash bag for clean up, portable cell phone charging device.
  • Depending on where you’re coming from, getting there can be a hassle.  Keep a positive attitude and relax.  The schlepping was more than a bit of a nuisance, but the pay off upon arrival was outstanding.
  • It’s great to sit with friends and be able to share food and wine, but remember to branch out and meet new people as well!
  • If you’re unable to register during the initial stage, reach out to an organizer to get on the official waiting list and monitor the message boards.  There are always cancellations and if you are vigilant, you will be able to purchase tickets from someone who is unable to attend.

champagne bucket chilling wine

Things I wish I’d done differently:

  • Prepared earlier.  This event happened to take place during a very busy period of work for me.  Day of, I was rushing around like a mad woman!  I definitely brought some of this on myself by not ordering a catered food basket.
  • Purchased a larger table.  I went with the Coleman Compact camping table, and at 27.5 inches square, I was wishing I had splurged on a 32 inch version (the max size allowed) to better accommodate my spread.


While I already owned most of the table decor, I did spend a considerable amount of time and money purchasing items from various vendors.  All told, I visited 8 brick and mortar establishments and made 2 online purchases to assemble everything I would need for the evening.  Although I likely could have rented or borrowed many of these items, it made sense for me to purchase items I plan on re-using since I plan on attending in future years.  When possible I took advantage of sales, but definitely splurged in other areas (namely: that cheese plate!). When possible, I purchased from local small businesses.

While some don’t understand the concept of paying to attend an event where you bring all your own supplies, food and wine, I feel that the $70 registration fee is quite reasonable given the permits, lighting, and particularly the entertainment.

Supplies & Decor:
Table Cloth, Rolling Luggage Cart: Amazon
Flame less Candles: Target
Coleman Camp Table: Walmart
Chairs: Fragers Rental
Flowers: Safeway

Our picnic basket- How lucky that my sister already had this on hand!?

Our picnic basket- How lucky that my sister already had this on hand!?

Dress: Pinktini Fashion Boutique
Shoes, Purse: DSW
Fascinator: Amazon
Jewelry: already owned

The accessories for the evening. The event is as much about fashion as it is food and wine!

The accessories for the evening. The event is as much about fashion as it is food and wine!

Picture courtesy of Lisa Comento.

Picture courtesy of Lisa Comento.

Have you attended Dîner en Blanc? What are your favorite tips and tricks?


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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 palate, 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.







Update: Though my mother has since passed away, she rocked the faux hawk for as long as possible. This October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and was also my mother’s birthday month.  For other ways to support both wine and Breast Cancer awareness, check out the #wineloversagainstcancer campaign.

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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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Wedding Season Sips

Posted in: Bang for Your Buck, Bon Vivant, Events, Guest Posts, Wine Recommendations

Head on over to The DC Ladies wedding week to check out my picks for bubbly and champagne as we head into the thick of wedding season!


I offer my top ten picks for every budget- to satisfy mimosa makings, hostess gifts at bridal showers, or even a special bottle of Champagne for a unique (and delicious!) wedding gift that no one will be exchanging!

What’s your favorite sparkling wine or champagne?


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It’s Chic to Drink Pink!

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Events, Porch wine, Seasonal Sips, Upcoming Events

Sip and Shop Pink{tini}!

When warm weather hits, there are few thing I like better than a refreshing glass of dry rosé!  And if you’re anything like me, adding in a dose of fashion never hurts!

Rosé wine at Linden Vineyards, VA

Rosé wine at Linden Vineyards, VA

So if you care to combine both fashion and wine vices, join me this Saturday, June 7th from 5:00 PM- 8:00 PM at Pinktini Fashion Boutique on Capitol Hill!  I’ll be pouring a custom flight of rosé for people to enjoy as they celebrate the boutique’s six month anniversary sale and celebration.

After all, it’s chic to sip and shop pink!

The event is free, but registration encouraged at

I hope to see you there!


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