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

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3 Guidelines to Picking Thanksgiving Wine

Posted in: Event Planning, Helpful Hints, Wine Pairing, Wine vocabulary

‘Tis the Season

Me with my "cooking" wine last year.  This wine was both delicious to sip, and also thinned the gravy quite nicely!

Me with my “cooking” wine last year. This wine was both delicious to sip, and also thinned the gravy quite nicely!

Although Thanksgiving is 2 weeks off, I thought I’d throw in my two cents on what to drink for the occasion.

Thanksgiving food is abundant, rich, and has an array of flavor profiles.  Throw in the inevitable array of personalities around most Thanksgiving dinner tables and you definitely don’t want to forget the vino- for therapeutic purposes, naturally!

No one wine is going to pair perfectly with everything on your plate with such a variety of flavors, but there are a few simple guidelines to making your selections complement your meal!

1.  Drink what you like.  If you prefer red, drink red.  White drinkers, drink white! Pick a medium to full bodied white, or a light to medium bodied red and your wine will go just fine with the meal.

2. Pick a wine that is relatively high in acidity.  They can be dry, off dry, sweet, or even sparkling. An acidic wine is one that makes your mouth water (as opposed to dry out) when you drink it! This is key to cutting through the richness of the meal.

3. Pick wines that “play well with others”.  With so many competing flavors on your plate, you don’t need wine fighting the turkey & gravy (or your crazy Aunt/sister/in-law) fighting for center stage! Save the bold Bordeaux for another occasion.

With these guidelines in mind, here are a few of my favorite Thanksgiving wine pairings, all for under $25 and available in the DC area!

White Wines:

  • Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc
  • Breaux Vineyards Viogner
  • Clean Slate Riesling
  • Domaine de Varoux White Burgandy
  • Ducasse White Bordeaux

Red Wines:

  • Meiomi Pinot Noir
  • Tres Picos Garnacha
  • Pratesi Locorosso Sangiovese
  • Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhones
  • Cerro Anon Reserva Tempranillo

When in doubt, pair with Champagne or another sparkling wine.  It’s easily one of the most food friendly wines out there! I particularly love Champalou, a sparkling wine made from Chenin Blanc!

What are some of your favorite holiday wines?  Anyone have any “weird” Thanksgiving dishes or traditions they can’t live without?


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Rose’s Luxury

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Restaurant Reviews, Wine Pairing

What a Welcome Newcomer!


I was delighted to try Aaron Silverman’s new restaurant Rose’s Luxury last week. This is one new restaurant that’s worth the hype!


Diners enjoying a front row view of the open kitchen action!

Everything from the design, to service, and especially the food, are all top notch- without an ounce of pretension.  Diners can get a front row view of the action in the kitchen at one of the bar seats, although I loved our cozy table under the lights.  The staff is friendly and informed; a welcome departure from surly greeters and uninformed servers.

As a party of four, we were delighted by each new course as it arrived, and got a chance to sample a good portion of the menu.  Not one plate left the table with anything remaining, and both pescatarians and meat-lovers alike left satiated.

Even the controversial popcorn soup had its champions; although I enjoyed the novelty and craftsmanship, it was a touch too rich for more than a spoonful or two for me.  Some of my dining companions heartily disagreed!

Stand out dishes were the pork sausage, habanero and lychee salad (trust me, just get it!), the crispy octopus, fried eggplant, and vietnamese pâté.  And the bread.  It’s worth suspending any low carb diet for an entire loaf of the house made complimentary potato bread and whipped butter.

One thing that can be complicated about ordering wine at a small plates restaurant is the sheer volume of flavors you’re pairing with.  I like to pick a wine that “plays well with others”, and one that is generally fairly high in acidity. I start light and increase the body to match the progression of small plates.

We started with individual cocktails; I ordered the sparkling chenin blanc, which was delightful, aromatic and crisp.

Our table then moved on to the Höpler Grüner Veltliner for the salad and seafood small plates.  Hard for a table of Grüner lovers to turn down, the Höpler was perfect on the palette- restrained and acidic, with a good dose of minerality and pear fruit.

For the heartier courses I selected a medium bodied Spanish blend of Garnacha, Mazuelo and Tempranillo called Remelluri 2008. The Garnacha and Mazuelo kept things smooth, while the Tempranillo spiced things up with lively red fruit, peppery notes, and a hint of smokiness.  It was served at the proper temperature, slightly below room temperature, which I always appreciate.  We all liked this wine so much we ordered a second bottle!

For dessert, we enjoyed the Eden Ice Cider served in elegant dessert glasses- a sweet cider made from apples picked after the first frost, much like Ice Wine. I would love to see an expansion of the dessert drinks. A tawny port or sherry selection would round out the beverage menu nicely.


I can’t wait to go back and am so glad to experience a small plates restaurant that really works!

Have you been to Rose’s Luxury yet?  What are some of your favorite new restaurants around town?


I went back to Rose’s Luxury this week and was pleased to see an expanded beverage program, especially on the dessert list.  I was particularly impressed by the Ben Rye- not a Rye whiskey at all, but a sweet, viscous wine from Sicily made from indigenous grapes. I’ll be ordering this one again!

Chef Silverman’s White Truffle Pasta- a seasonal special- was aromatic and delicious. A generous portion of the aromatic delicacy was shaved over simply prepared pasta letting the truffles take center stage.  Bravo!

We can’t wait to snag a seat at the bar facing the kitchen next time to see the kitchen staff in their element!




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Tried and Trues

Posted in: Tried and Trues, Wine Pairing, Wineries and Vineyards

My Desert Island Wine

As much as I encourage people to try new wines, we all have our favorites- the ones that we come back to again and again.  Occasionally, I’ll be updating the blog with reviews of some my own tried and trues, many of which you may notice popping up on the Bon Vivant DC facebook “Currently Sipping” album from time to time!

A recent interview with a vintner introduced me to the concept of a “desert island wines”- the one wine that you couldn’t live without if you lived out the rest of your days in isolation.  And so, I think it only appropriate to start this series with one of my top contenders: AN2.


This is the wine we pull out when invited to a dinner party or when we have friends over.  Or, often,  just because! I’ve never served it to anyone that didn’t love it- in fact, usually there’s a fight over the last dregs of the bottle!

From the Spanish island of Mallorca, this medium bodied red is comprised of lesser known varietals: old vine Callet, Mantonegre, Fogoneu and Syrah fermented in a combination of stainless steel and concrete.  It’s then aged for 13 months in a combination of French barriques and American oak.

This wine balances earthy and fruity notes in perfect harmony, resulting in an elegant wine that’s both easy drinking and nuanced. There are spicy notes, in addition to a light smokiness to balance out the bright fruit notes- most notably raspberry and cherry. Its medium body and high acidity make it intensely food friendly, and it goes well with a variety a of dishes.

We’ve paired it with everything from charcuterie, to pork, red meat, and have enjoyed more than our fair share sans food.

It’s generally priced around $25 at area retailers, and worth every penny!

What are some of your “tried and trues” that you come back to again and again?

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Pairing wine with Asian Cuisine

Posted in: Restaurant Reviews, Wine Pairing

 Little Serow: Worth the hype!

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

image courtesy of Katherine Frey, Washington Post

Little Serow has become something of a right of passage for DC foodies.  The no reservations policy means diners line up down the block for the privilege of eating at the family style restaurant specializing in Northeastern Thai cuisine.  Last week we were lucky to land the last seat in the house.

After our wait outside, we were ready for something cool and refreshing, and promptly ordered the Punkt sparkling Grüner Vetliner. Crisp and acidic, the bubbly hit the spot.

Asian cuisine is notoriously difficult when it comes wine pairing.  The umami flavors and spice notes prompt many diners to stick to beer.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting and appropriate wine list, spearheaded by beverage director Bill Jensen.

When pairing wine with Asian food, I like to stick with a high acid, fruit forward, slightly sweeter wine.  Off dry and aromatic varietals such as Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling are good picks to stand up to the spicy and strong flavor profiles.

The waitress’ suggestion of the Diel Riesling was spot on and paired perfectly with the food.  The bouquet exhibited notes of wet slate and minerality. The palette was an explosion of stone fruit, balanced by exceptional acid and just the right level of residual sugar balancing out the heat of the dishes. It was the best of what good Riesling- and a proper pairing- can offer.

I would’ve been content to order a second bottle of the Diel, but wanting to explore more of the wine list, we went with the heavier Grasparossa di Castlevelio Lambrusco.  This slightly sweet effervescent red from Italy stood up well to the strong flavors of the meal.  The finish was overwhelmingly malty- a distinct nod to a dark Belgian ale.

Little Serow isn’t for picky eaters.  There is a set menu each week, and a no substitution policy. The staff is easy-going, and extremely knowledgeable about both the food and beverage programs- a plus for a cuisine that features items many are unfamiliar with.

All four diners had a different favorite from the barrage of dishes, but not one plate left the table unfinished. The naem khao tod and the bowl of pork rinds on the table took me right back to a recent trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand in the tastiest of ways!

Our table’s only quip with the food or service was the slightly rushed pacing of the menu- perhaps a necessary evil of the strict 2 seating policy, but our experience certainly lived up to the hype!

This is the menu from last week:

nam prik narohk

salted fish / tamarind / khi nu chilies


som tum khao pod
corn / snake bean / bla rah


ma hor
sour fruit / dried shrimp / palm sugar


                               gai laap chiang mai                                   
chicken liver / sawtooth / long pepper


naem khao tod
crispy rice / sour pork / peanuts


het grapao
mushrooms / holy basil / egg


si krong muu
pork ribs / mekhong whiskey / dill



Do you ever pair wine with Asian food?  Have you braved the lines and eaten at Little Serow?


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Pairing Wine with Emotions

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Wine Pairing

So Many Favorites…

I often get asked what my favorite wine is.  To which I invariably respond: “What’s the weather?  What am I eating? Who am I with?  What is the occasion?  Am I inside? Outside? On a boat? What is my mood?” 

I have a different favorite for each of these occasions and combinations!

On one recent day I was asked- somewhat jokingly- by three separate people what wines to pair with an emotion or life circumstance. There’s a wine out there to complement virtually any emotion or occasion!

1. From a dear friend nearing the culmination of her PhD:

Q: I need some consultation on what red pairs best with abject hysteria upon approaching an impending 5-year deadline?
A: I’m feeling like you need an Italian.  They just do abject hysteria better than most! A Barbaresco or Brunello is the way to go!
She agreed that she did, indeed, “need an Italian”!

She agreed that she did, indeed, “need an Italian”!

2. From a sister who was recently given the brush off by a guy she was dating:

Q: What wine pairs best with being dumped?
A: Easy.  A cava.  It’s light and celebratory!  You clearly dodged a dating bullet, plus those bubbles say, “Who cares, I’m fabulous!” 

Bohigas cava is a family favorite!

3. From a neighbor whose wife was in the hospital, seeking a wine with which to unwind:

Q. I know you’re not supposed to drink heavy, dark reds when it’s this warm out, but that’s what I generally enjoy.
A. Nonsense!  Drink what you like!  A heavy, brooding red fits perfectly with your current situation. 

I brought him a bottle of Trim Cabernet Sauvignon. For medicinal purposes, naturally.

When was the last time you paired a beverage to your mood?



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