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

All posts in Helpful Hints

Top 5 Travel Essentials

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Champagne, Helpful Hints, On the Road, Travel, Tried and Trues

I’m currently at my third Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California, which will be followed by a few days in Napa and Sonoma. The past several months have been full of wine related travel, and I’ve whittled down my top 5 travel essentials for looking and feeling fresh and luxurious on the go- whether you’re sipping and swirling in Champagne or California!

Darphin Kiwi Mask

This keeps travel weary skin refreshed and dewy and smells great! It’s perfect for reviving jet lagged skin after a long day of travel. I also love that this skin care line doesn’t include harmful ingredients like parabens.


Downey Wrinkle Release Spray

Not all hotel rooms abroad have irons, so this spray becomes essential to keeping from looking rumpled! It can also refresh clothes that have been in a stuffy suitcase for too long.




Not only can they serve as crucial layering pieces on chilly planes or wine caves, these versatile accessories can change up the look of a limited wardrobe in a flash!


Sanitizing wipes

Nothing is worse than getting sick on vacation. I use this generic CVS brand to clean up grimy airplane seats, hotels, and before eating. I like these in particular because they have moisturizing aloe, smell neutral, and there’s no sticky residue. The individual packets are particularly convenient.



Cuyana Leather Goods

Though I use these at home, they’re particularly great for travel. The wallet easily fits a passport, lipgloss and multiple currencies. The toiletry bags are great for corralling makeup and sundries in style. Find them here.


What are your travel must haves?  What wine travel is next on the docket for you?!


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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 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.



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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:




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Outdoor Entertaining Tips from Robert Mondavi IV

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Champagne, Drink Well, Entertaining, Event Planning, Events, Helpful Hints, Porch wine, Rosé, Seasonal Sips, Tried and Trues, Wine Recommendations, Winemakers, Wineries and Vineyards

I recently chatted with Rob Mondavi IV, 4th Generation winemaker, from his beautiful waterfront home in Beaufort, South Carolina.  He had some great tips for outdoor entertaining as we come into the summertime entertaining season.

rosé on the porch

Mondavi pulls inspiration from California wine country, Europe, South America and Southern Coastal traditions, but his tips work well no matter where you live!

Check out some of his outdoor entertaining tips below and click here to see the full interview!

  • Green & Eco-friendly are trends that are easy to incorporate. Mondavi recommends recycled materials with longevity like Trex decking materials.
  • Make sure your guests have a place to set their drinks- you can even incorporate a cocktail rail into decking! Alternatively, set out cocktail tables or garden stools.
  • Plan intimate events, bigger isn’t always better.
  • Serve Bubbly! “It can mark a moment at the party.”
  • When it comes to food, focus on farm to table and sourcing local, fresh products.  I love visiting Eastern Market and Union Market in DC to pick up local, fresh ingredients.
  • Mondavi’s go to porch wine: Chardonnay! Aromatic whites and dry Rosés are also great options that are trending.

What are some of your favorite outdoor entertaining tips?



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5 tips to cure a New Years Hangover

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

An ounce of prevention goes a long way to alleviating hangovers.  Remember to stay hydrated with water and never drink on an empty stomach!

But, if you happen to be in a bad way, here are 5 tips that can help get you back on your feet:


My favorites are Blue Gatorade (yes, it has to be blue for me) and Vitamin Water- the kind with Vitamin B. Both are great options for getting fluid and electrolytes back into your system.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B affect how your liver metabolizes toxins and also has a major impact on your energy levels. Check out why Vitamin B can help here!

Advil or Aspirin

Never take Tylenol with alcohol! It is horrible for your liver and can do long term damage.  Stick to Advil, Ibuprofin or Aspirin to relieve that headache.


Certain studies have shown that the protein and other compounds in eggs can help alleviate a hangover.  I like to pair mine with an everything bagel.  Not scientific, just a preference;) Check out these other food “remedies” from around the globe! Pickle juice, anyone?

Blowfish for Hangovers*

This little gem can be purchased CVS, Amazon, or your local pharmacy.  It’s an Alka-Seltzer like fizzy tablet that dissolves in water containing aspirin and caffeine.  Advil can be rough on your stomach, but the bubbles help settle your stomach, while the aspirin takes care of your headache and the caffeine attacks the general malaise.  It’s the only “hangover cure” I’ve ever tried that even remotely works. I can also see it being a good solution when you wake up not so feeling great in general. Check them out here.

*Disclaimer: I received a free sample of this product, but the views expressed are entirely my own.

Do you have any preferred hangover “cures”?


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