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

All posts in Wine Reviews

What do YOU want to see?

Posted in: Bon Vivant, Cocktails, Helpful Hints, Polls, Recipes, Restaurant Reviews, Upcoming Events, Wine Facts, Wine Pairing, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wineries and Vineyards

There are a lot of wine blogs out there, and I want to make sure I’m giving you more of what YOU want to read about! Let me know what you want to see more of on the Bon Vivant Blog and feel free to sound off in the comments section!


Photo Credit: Boxhill Photography

What do you want to see more of on the Bon Vivant Blog?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Thanks for your feedback and thanks for reading!


Read More

Casa Luca

Posted in: Restaurant Reviews, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews, Wineries and Vineyards

Fabio Trabocchi Does it Again!

Casa LucaWe recently tried out one of DC’s hottest new restaurants with some of our favorite foodie friends.  With one of DC’s most esteemed Italian chefs behind Casa Luca (named after Trabocchi’s son), we were confident that the meal would not disappoint.

I eschewed my usual glass of bubbly to start the meal, and instead tried the Solstizio cocktail- a mix of Cynar, blood orange, lemon and honey. It was proof that stepping outside my bubbly bubble can pay off!

We started our gluttonous journey with antipasti for the table- a generous portion of meats, cheeses, and other accoutrements. The table then shared an order of the Fusilli e Caccio e Pepe and Smoked Potato Gnocchi with Duck Ragu.  Both were outstanding, but if I had to order just one, it would be the Fusilli- perfect in its simplicity and creamy from the fresh burrata.

The Monkfish Milanese is quickly becoming known as the restaurant’s signature- with good reason. Crispy, yet delicate, this is one dish you should not leave without trying!

Although we could’ve left pleasantly full after these generous courses, the gentlemen insisted on ordering the (very large!) Grigliata Mista de Carne. Although it was delicious, we were perhaps too stuffed to properly enjoy the grilled meats.

We started our wine journey with one of my very favorite producers- Castello di Nieve.  At $75, the Nebbiolo Barbaresco wasn’t cheap, but this small production, family-owned winery consistently over delivers for the price, and the wine paired beautifully with the first two courses.

The beverage director, Nick Calio, has created a thoughtful wine list, dominated by Italian selections.  I was delighted to see a section of wines available by the bottle for only $28! This 12 bottle “menu within a menu” consists of 6 red and 6 white wines that offer outstanding quality at an extremely accessible price point.  The selection rotates depending on seasonal availability, and is intended to encourage guests to try something new at an approachable price point.

In honor of the recent passing of Antonio Mastroberadino, we selected the Aglianico from this menu and toasted the legendary Italian winemaker over superb food with great friends- as I can only imagine he would have liked.

photo(69)We ended the meal with house made Limoncello- completely stuffed but happy, and sure to return!

What new restaurants have you tried and loved lately?

Read More

Slow Cooker Bison Chili + Valpolicella Ripasso

Posted in: Recipes, Wine Pairing, Wine Reviews

Take that Polar Vortex!

These cold winter days call for slow cooked, rib sticking meals and equally substantive wines.

Valpolicella RipassoThis Valpolicella Ripasso was an excellent pairing with a new bison chili recipe.  With jammy red fruit, this wine is ripe with raspberry notes on the nose and cherry on the finish.  The fruit notes are balanced by coffee, chocolate, and leather notes that complemented the chili beautifully.  As the wine opens up, it transforms, rewarding drinkers with a lengthy finish.

With a quarter of the fat of ground beef, bison is a great alternative for lightening up chili, burgers, spaghetti and more!

Slow Cooker Bison Chili
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 ounces ground bison
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 tbsp pure ancho chile powder
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup chicken stock*
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • ½ tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • *add extra chicken stock to achieve desired thickness
  1. In large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bison and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, to brown the meat, 3-5 minutes.
  2. In the slow cooker layer onions and garlic.
  3. Remove the bison from the saucepan and drain extra fat.
  4. Layer bison on top of vegetables in the slow cooker.
  5. Add tomatoes, beans, chicken stock and all herbs and spices, except fresh oregano.
  6. Cover and let cook for 2-3 hours.
  7. After cooking time is done, set slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.
  8. Stir in fresh oregano just before serving.

 bison chili and ripasso


We served the chili over rice, with a side of cornbread and garnished with the usual suspects- sour cream, cheese, along with quick pickled red onions.

To pickle the onions, slice thinly, then place in a mason jar, adding 1.5 tablespoons of Herbes de Provence, filling the jar with white vinegar.  Refrigerate for 2-4 hours & enjoy! (The left overs are absolutely delicious on sandwiches!)


What are some of your favorite winter recipes and wines? 







Read More

Cold Weather Wines

Posted in: Helpful Hints, Seasonal Sips, Wine 101, Wine Facts, Wine Pairing, Wine Recommendations, Wine Reviews



Although many reach for heavy red stand-bys like Cabernet Sauvignon and Bordeaux, I have a few lesser known favorites that are perfect for warming up in front of the fire!

Fortified Wines

This is the time to bring out your fortified wines– Sherry, Port and Madeira.  Although there is huge variation within the category of fortified wines and they can get expensive quickly, there are delicious bottles in the $22-$25 range.

I recently tried Baco de Elite Olorosso Sherry, a medium dry sherry with toasted walnut notes. Derek Brown’s Mockingbird Hill is a great place to visit if you want to learn more about sherry!  I’m also partial to Dow’s Boardroom Tawny Port for its caramel notes and lighter finish than Ruby Ports.

Forget budget Madeira and just splurge.  It’s worth every penny! For a special treat, visit The Jefferson Hotel in DC, which houses the largest Madeira collection in America. Ask Jen, the Sommelier, or Ivan, an outstanding bartender at the intimate Plume bar, for a recommendation!


Although this grape is grown primarily in Uruguay, it was originally a French varietal.  This is definitely one to decant and you will be amazed at how a Tannat will open up and develop as it is exposed to air! I recently poured Bouza Tannat at a private wine tasting, and it’s chocolatey notes and full body were a crowd pleaser.  It’s not a grape you see every day, but if you like super full bodied reds, this is one worth trying!  Tannat tends to be very high in alcohol- hovering at around 15%- so sip accordingly!


As mentioned in last week’s post, I adore red wines from this Spanish region. These powerful red wines are comprised of a blend of varietals including Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot. Try the Menut or Zaumau- both are spectacular wines that offer spicy red fruit notes and pack a powerful punch.  They’re great to pair with your favorite hearty winter fare, as well!


This Italian wine doesn’t come cheap, but is absolutely amazing when it’s cold outside. Made in the Veneto region of Italy, this full bodied, earthy red wine is made by letting the Corvina grapes dry out into raisins, heavily concentrating the flavors. Try Allegrini for a tried and true house that also makes an excellent “Ripasso”  Valpolicella- frequently known as the “poor man’s Amarone”.

What is your favorite cold weather libation?



Read More