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Carnival in Europe – Five great Carnival Vacation ideas for wine lovers in 2014

Although most of us when mentioning the world carnival might instantly think of Sydney, Rio or New Orleans, Europe can still lay claim to the oldest and proudest Mardi Gras tradition. The historical importance of the religious celebrations preceding the start of Lent is marked by the diverse and colorful local festivals celebrated throughout European cities each year. From the famous masked balls in Venice, to the riotous and vibrant carnival in Tenerife, these occasions are a must see for wine lovers who enjoy glamor, excitement and the decadence of lavish celebrations.

veniceThe following five cities represent the best of Europe’s carnival tradition and welcome the spring season in impeccable style:

Venice Carnival 2014

Venice Carnival or Carnevale is the very epitome of extravagance, a masked ball that traditionally ended on Shrove Tuesday and began on December 26th, which is celebrated as St Stephen’s Day in Venice, as in Ireland. Today, however, the festivities continue into the middle of February, as visitors flock from far and wide to enjoy the most decadent fancy-dress party on earth. The carnival has a history that dates back many hundreds of years; Venetians have been celebrating Carnevale since the 15th century. The popularity of masked balls and carnivals rocketed during this period in Europe and became an integral part of any cultural event in Venice. The mask, as well as serving a decorative function could nicely conceal the identity of the wearer, which became highly popular in political circles, as well as for celebrations.

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Other European cities started to copy the Venice formula and order their own masks from the Venetian workshops. In Venice, private clubs would organize masked balls and street entertainment – the elite simply had to be seen at these events! Carnevale reached its heyday in the 18th century, as the Venetian Republic collapsed and social conventions and rules were relaxed. The event became increasingly hedonistic, with lavish displays of wealth, processions and festivals held in St Marks Square. Sadly, after Napoleon invaded in 1797 the carnival tradition fell into decline, the Italian ruler Mussolini subsequently banned the wearing of masks and so carnival was no more. That was until 1979, when the first event in several decades exploded into the Venetian scene and the city has not looked back since. Today, the undisputed highlight is the Gran Ballo delle Maschere or Doge’s Ball, which takes place in different locations across Venice, usually in a grand palace or residence.

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The costumes, masks and general extravagance on display is unrivaled. Prior the the Grand Masked Ball, the celebration begins with a masked procession through Piazza San Marco and around. The following weekend sees a multitude of wonderful musical and theatre performances in San Marco and other locations, with Sunday reserved for a stunning procession of gondolas carrying masked passengers down the Grand Canal. Of course, plenty of other events take place and are open to anyone who is prepared to pay. This year, visitors can enjoy the masked “Enchanted Palace” Ball, which takes place in an ancient palace on the Grand Canal. Expect cocktails, lavish costume, fine dining and partying aplenty. There is also the “Feast of the Gods Event”, which takes place in a sixteenth century palace under frescoes painted by Giovanni Bellini. Join in the celebrations as Bacchus, the god of wine and Mercury invite you to join their feasting, drinking and merry making. For more information on these and other events, go to www.venicecarnival-italy.com   Finally, don’t forget to secure your mask well in advance of the party! Book an appointment to have a mask made.

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Venice Wine Country- While in Venice, why not go exploring the Prosecco wine roads, the delicious sparkling wine made in the gentle hills around Conegliano Valdobbiadene. Great Prosecco houses include Bisol and Bortolomiol, two faves.

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Tenerife Carnaval 2014

Each year Tenerife holds one of Europe’s largest and most riotous carnivals, a three week extravaganza that attracts hundreds of thousand of visitors and culminates in a 24 hour party on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. It has been celebrated on the island for centuries and visitors to Tenerife such as Lope Antonio de la Guerra Pena in the 18th century spoke of dancing and conga music in the capital Santa Cruz. However, when Franco came to power he banned the festivities, which got back into their full swing after his death in 1975 upon his death. The carnival was subsequently a vehicle with which to lambast the Catholic Church and its relationship with the Fascists – today people often dress up to lampoon religious figures, naughty nuns being a popular costume!

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Tenerife is now twinned with Rio de Janeiro, and shares some of the vigor and debauchery of that world famous carnival in Brazil. Next year it runs from 26th February to 9th March, carnival season is officially opened with a gala for the election of the Carnival Queen and ends with the ceremonial burning of the sardine festival, an event totally unique to the island of Tenerife.The ‘sardine’ is in fact a collection of rags and cloths, paraded around Santa Cruz de Tenerife followed by hysterical mourners! It is quite a sight to behold! But the main attraction is most definitely the gala parade, a spectacular affair with stunning examples of fancy dress on display, elaborate floats, fireworks and much drinking and parting centered around the beautiful Plaza de España in Santa Cruz.

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That said, the carnival involves far more than just one central parade and loads of stalls and events are set up in areas across the city. There are also competitions galore: murgas, rondallas, comparsas, all essentially dance competitions and a fancy dress competition for good measure. Make sure you don’t miss the grand gala for the election of 2014′s Carnival Queen, the day after there is a delightful musical concert in the Guimera theater. And don’t think that the fun ends on Ash Wednesday, as the weekend of La Piñata Chica follows shortly after with more partying in the Plaza de Principe. So head out on 9th of March for what will undoubtedly be the best street festival of your life. More info on Tenerife´s Carnival events this year.

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Tenerife for Wine Lovers- While on this beautiful island, don´t miss tasting spectacular local wines from the  Crater bodega. Enjoy stellar food and wine in one of the most beautiful settings on earth at Terrazas del Sauzal, and El Burgado is also unmissable.

Terrazas-del-Sauzal-Nice Carnival 2014

Capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice holds a suitably glamorous and elaborate carnival celebration each year across its splendid squares, parks and the famous Promenade des Anglais. Its temperate winter climate and fantastic setting makes it the perfect location for a carnival to remember. The celebration starts on 14th February in 2014 and ends on 4th March, over two weeks of non-stop partying. Nice Carnival has had a long and distinguished reign: history records that the event was established in the 13th century, by Charles Anjou, the Count of Provence. In 1294, the Count made references to “the joyous days of carnival” suggesting that Nice Carnival is in fact the original and oldest carnival celebration in existence. Each year the carnival’s organizers choose a different theme for the celebrations, 2014 is the year of the “King of Gastronomy” so expect cuisine to dominate the parade and events that entertain revellers who flock to the Promenade de Anglais each year.

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However, Nice Carnival is most famous for the Bataille de Fleurs (Battle of Flowers) which takes place on various dates throughout the Carnival season (in 2014 the 15 19, 22, 26 February and 2 March) Members of the parade fiercely battle to outdo each other with spectacular floral displays on floats that line the Promende de Anglais. As the procession moves through Nice, flowers are thrown into the crowds, stalls selling delicious local delicacies fill the air with enticing smells and the city seems to literally buzz with excitement. The festivities officially start with the Carnival Procession, heralding the arrival of the Carnival King in the beautiful Place Massena. Local residents spend months designing over 20 elaborate floats, which will take the theme of the year.

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But perhaps the most eye-catching sight is the giant puppets marching through Nice, called Grosses Tetes, accompanied by hundreds of musicians, street artists and dancers that come from all over the world. The chosen King then takes the key to the city and declares a brief reign of excess! Highlights in 2014 include the unmissable Zuma party on February 16th and the awe-inspiring closing firework display over the Baie de Anges, officially ending the proceeding on 4 March. For more information on this unmissable carnival event, check out info on Nice Carnival here.

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Nice for wine lovers- Nice is the gateway to Provence. You are less than an hour away from dreamy hilltop villages where you can stay in gorgeous country properties tasting stellar rosé wines in situ. In Nice itself you have some fab little wine bars, we love La Part des Anges, La Cave de l’Origine and Cave de la Tour.

Cadiz Carnival 2014

Second only to Tenerife in the sheer scope and originality of its carnival tradition, Cadiz carnival is a riotous, ten day celebration that literally turn the city into one big party. It is the highlights of any self-respecting Gaditanos calender, indeed, preparations for the carnival begin almost as soon as one carnival finishes. Historically, Cadiz has laid on a boisterous carnival since the 16th century, when the city thrived as a major trading port for the Americas. Looking across to their Italian neighbors in Venice, the citizens of Cadiz decided to copy their tradition of marking the start of lent and started to organize what would become the liveliest and most elaborate carnival in mainland Spain. It was the one celebration that the Fascist dictator could not ban, due to the overwhelming protest and resistance for the local Gaditanos!

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Beginning on February 27 and ending on March 9 in 2014, Cadiz’s carnival is essentially one massive street party, with eleven days of elaborate costumes, theatre, processions, concerts and above all else, singing! The originality of Cadiz’s lent celebration is impressive, the driving force of the party is an emphasis on music and on the famously witty local inhabitants of Cadiz, whose love of comedy comes shining through in their imaginative displays of satire. These performers are known as Chirigotas: their music and satirical songs provide the central focus each year. In fact, the celebration really starts a month before the official opening day, as various musical groups compete in the “official contest” held at the beautiful Gran Teatro Falla. Over 200 groups will take part in this musical feast, with various categories of performers: Chirigotas, Choirs, Comparsas, Quarters and Romanceros. The Choirs will often also entertain people in the streets, as will the single act Romanceros. The Comparas tend to take the competition more seriously and sing classical songs with deep, romantic leanings. The competition is held 20 days before carnival and in four stages: preliminaries, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the grand final. Listening to the various performers is a big highlight of the festival, the songs tend to be aimed at ‘debunking’ the cult of celebrity, politicians and the church are also fair game!

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The finale is another main attraction of the carnival, held on the first Friday of the celebrations. Performers roam the streets singing their compositions and on the following Monday perform on a central stage for all the city to enjoy. The other key attraction during carnival time is the procession and street parties, as thousands upon thousand of people in elaborate costume party the night away in Cadiz’s old town. In addition, there are gastronomic stalls, various musical concerts and plenty of things to keep the little ones happy; including puppet shows, and the incredible closing fireworks display. Key dates for your Carnival calendar in 2014 are Friday 27, which is the Grand Finale of the singing contest, the main procession on the following Sunday (29) and the awe-inspiring fireworks display in La Caleta. Truly, this is a carnival you won’t want to miss.

Cadiz for wine lovers- you are in the Sherry heartland here and this is a supremely interesting spot for wine aficionados. Don´t miss the terrific bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera like Lustau, Fernando de Castilla, González Byass and Domecq. And Angle Leon´s Michelin starred seafood eatery Aponiente is a glamorous place to taste terrific local Sherries paired with unusual and magical fish pairings.

SHERRY pxSitges Carnival 2014

Spain’s delightfully avant-garde, unconventional seaside resort is merely a half-hour away from Barcelona by train, so there’s no excuse for not visiting the next time you set foot in the Catalan capital. Sitges has been a fashionable place for jet-setters and night-owls since the 1960s, and puts on one of Spain’s most outrageous carnivals. It’s a week long riot of the extrovert, the colorful and the exhibitionist, capped by a gay parade along the sea-front promenade. Sitges has been holding carnival celebrations for over a century, although the installation of Franco as Spain’s Fascist dictator in 1939 put a temporary stop to the fun. Today, it is regarded as Spain’s wildest party event and over 200,000 visitors, both Spanish and international, turn out for the carnival. A normally quiet village (in winter at least!) explodes into life with parades, endless parties, local gastronomy, numerous folk dances and outrageous displays – a feast for all the senses.

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The party starts on 27 February in 2014 and ends March 5. The inaugural event is the opening Jueves Lardero (Fat Thursday) celebrations, with stalls offering a massive selection of local dishes; Sitges’ citizens seriously pig-out into the evening. It heralds the arrival of King Carnestoltes – the King of the Carnival – who arrives in a great flurry of color and activity. Let the mayhem begin! Sunday 2nd March sees the famous Rua de la Disbauxa, or the Debauchery Parade, an anything goes display of debauchery and outrageous costume, over forty floats usually participate in the fun, carrying up to 2,000 people at a time. However, even this spectacular event is outdone by the Rua de l’Extermini, or Extermination Parade, on the following Tuesday night. This parade marks the end of the festivities, although there is nothing mournful about the celebrations with more riotous displays of dress and kitsch.

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Carnival truly ends with the Burial of the Sardine on Ash Wednesday, the large effigy of a sardine buried in Sitges’s sandy beach. Around the same time as carnival, a more sedate but equally unmissable event is taking place – the Corpus Cristi celebrations. They are marked by the creation of floral ‘carpets’ in the streets of central Sites. These can be of incredible complexity and generally consist of geometric designs or religious depictions. They are simply stunningly beautiful so make sure to catch them before they are trampled over when the religious process passes through this delightful city.

Sitges for wine lovers- you are on the doorstep of the Mediterranean Penedes wine country. This is where Spain´s famed Cava, bubbly, is produced and great wines to seek out include Agusti Torello and Pares Balta. Don´t miss a meal at winemaker´s haunt Cal Xim where charming host Santi will take excellent care of you, and while in Sitges itself we love the easy going paella at beach front La Fragata.

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Travel Notes in Paris

Posted by gen On October - 3 - 2013

We were in Paris 2 weeks ago, ago visiting our regular suppliers and some fabulous new ones. We visited a number of hotels, restaurants and wine shops, met guides and explored new gourmet routes, and all for our lucky clients.

It´s a tough job but somebody has to eat and drink their way through Paris to make sure the standard is up to par!

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Some notes from the trip…

HOTELS- we visited  a range of 4 and 5 stars, current suppliers and new ones,  to see how the wear and tear was looking and how the welcome was.  Weren´t able to visit the 5* Ritz nor the 5* Crillon as both are under massive renovation this year, will be very interesting those grand reopenings in 2015…

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4* Westminster- this classic  hotel named after the Duke of Westminster on gorgeous Rue de la Paix near Place Vendome  is always a reliable choice for its elegant location, very comfie rooms and stellar gastronomic restaurant Le Céladon. The welcome was as good as ever and I was happy to see the hotel is in tip top form, we always recommend this one.

4* Westin- the antithesis of boutique, the Westin is reassuringly “neutral”, a nice choice in Paris for guests looking for an International style hotel. It has open and airy, elegant  public spaces, a calming garden patio and a great shopping location. Popular with North Americans and older guests.

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4* Villa d´Estrées- this was my fave hotel from the inspection! A darling townhouse style hotel in an incredibly picturesque neighborhood near St Michel, the welcome here was also extraordinarily warm (especially for Paris!). For first timers to Paris who want to be walking distance to Notre Dame, yet far enough from the tourist crowds to have the feeling of being in an authentic and very pretty quartier, this would absolutely be my recommendation. The owner is young and hands on and extremely helpful, hospitality like this in Paris is rare enough!

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 5* Mandarin Oriental- We had been meaning to visit the Mandarin since their grand opening in 2011, so better late than never. The welcome was excellent, very friendly staff, smiles all around. The decor is not for everyone (artwork is contemporary, for better or for worse I must say), spaces are minimalist, rooms are techie.  Popular with guests from Asia, Russia, and the Middle East as well as American East Coasters. There are flat screen tvs overlooking the bath tubs, Nespresso machines in the rooms and a fabulous 2 Michelin starred eatery run by Thierry Marx (previously at Cordeillan Bages in Bordeaux´s Pauillac wine lands.) The spa here is one of the best spas in Paris.

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5* Hotel Costes – as always, the welcome here was snooty and the front house staff seemed to all be  hungry and cranky models :) This is a given with the Costes. This beautiful boutique hotel designed by Jacques Garcia is verrrrry sceney and you are likely to rub shoulders with a movie star or visiting rock band. Even at mid day there was a ton of atmosphere in the rollicking bar which is laid out over several Oriental themed rooms. The vibe  is very Orient Express train meets trendy club. The DJs there are famous and the hotel even produces a series of lounge CDs. Recommended for wealthy hispters, and apart from the accommodation, it is always fun to pop into the bar and to dine here.

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FOOD AND WINE GUIDE

How delighted were we to meet a charming American wine expert expat with an art background and based in Paris for the last 10 years?  Very! Preston, owner of Paris by the Glass, is a gem, effortlessly charming, erudite and a superb addition to our collection of wine expert guides in France. Look forward to designing new programs with him soon and to pampering our guests with his fun food and wine tours around Paris.

Superb Wine Expert Host in Paris, Preston

Superb Wine Expert Host in Paris, Preston

COOKING CLASSES IN PARIS

We called in to visit Jane at La Cuisine Paris, a high end super fabulous cooking school right on the Seine with all services offered in English both for mixed group events and for our clients of course, private events. Our clients have done everything from chocolate pastry to macarons here and it was fun to brain storm new ideas like professional cheese tastings, French baguette making and more. We are creating new gourmet tours in Paris and will be featuring their classes for our food loving guests. You could not find a more professional, clean, pretty cooking school in town, and what a location!

Professional kitchen at La Cuisine with dining area overlooking the Seine

Professional kitchen at La Cuisine with dining area overlooking the Seine

 

Autumn leaves and a view of the Seine

Autumn leaves and a view of the Seine

RESTAURANTS

Dauphin- Ridiculously good looking staff serve delish new wave bistro style dishes at this super hipster venue that feels more Brooklyn than Paris. They offer amazingly good value menus and the place was great! We started with smoked eggplant purée spiked with feta and garnished with piquant Basque peppers, total flavor explosion of sweet and sour. Main course was the bonito pictured here, cooked perfectly over a bed of buttery white beans and caramelized onions. They serve a number of nice wines by the glass, we had a minerally white Bourgogne. Completely and utterly recommend. It´s an informal lunchy type spot.

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Au Bourgignon du Marais – always a fave and featured in our post on best restaurants for wine lovers in Paris, the famed Boeuf Bourguignon was as fabulous as ever, perfect for the chillier temps. Located on a beautiful Parisian street right across from the prettiest bakery ever, this spot is always a a treat. To start we had the salad of marinated artichokes and eggplant with cured jambon.  After the rich beef, we could not resist and had the fromage sampler, good heavens, total food paradise. Great service, nice wines by the glass (we had a Givry), expertly prepared traditional cuisine, pretty atmosphere, what more could we ask for?

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Chez Paul- It´s been years since we dined at Chez Paul, a Bastille classic bistro. And nothing has changed, except for the fact that all restaurants in France are now thankfully smoke free. The atmosphere is very Toulouse Lautrec and the dishes are as fabulous and classic as they come in France. We started with a simply breathtaking Fois Gras served with an entire pear poached in red wine and spices. Rich, so rich.. thankfully this was a shared appetizer! Paired with our Gevrey Chambertin, we were in glutton´s paradise. To follow, pavé de cochon noir (black foot pork) with an entire roast garlic bulb over steamed spinach and mouthwatering confit de canard served with perfectly roasted potatoes drizzled with a basil pistou. We barely fit in a lemon sorbet, for digestive purposes of course! Luckily Paris is a city for walkers and we were able to fit in some lovely long walks to help counter our calorie count!

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Le Square Gardette- Could I eat any more? yes, apparently! It´s all in the name of work…This trendy little eatery on Saint Ambroise in an up and coming neighborhood north of Bastille offers excellent value gourmet set menus. The crowd was very mixed, from Spanish businessmen to a table of Japanese fashion designers, and of course beautiful locals. I started with a glass of creamy Champagne from Michel Genet. The amuse bouche was a warm, smokey cauliflower cream with a smattering of cocoa powder. Very naughty grilled foie gras came next (a month´s worth of zumba classes down the drain) and finally for the main course a perfectly cooked supreme of volaille rolled with fresh sage over delicious little beans, total autumnal comfort food. Accompanied by a heady glass of Châteauneuf du Pape, it was a nice ending to a very productive and interesting few days in Paris.

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10 Best Restaurants in Paris for Wine lovers

Posted by gen On July - 12 - 2013

The Ten Best Restaurants in Paris for Wine lovers- Cellar Tours Selection

Paris is a city of over two million people, and is today the undisputed economic, political, artistic and gastronomic hub of France. Citizens of Lyon would undoubtedly disagree, but as far as we are concerned no other city in France offers as much variety of places to eat and drink: be it high-end haute-cuisine or brasseries off the beaten track. And of course, wine lists containing both country reds and the big names of Bordeaux and Burgundy have always been an honored part of at the Parisian high-end restaurant experience.

However, a revolution in the city’s gastronomic scene has been taking place over the last three years, as a new generation of bistros and bars are making the wines far more important than the food — which has to be up-to-scratch nonetheless, but now you choose the wine first and then the chef will match appropriate dishes.

So it’s a very exciting time to be a wine lover dining out in Paris. The classic Encyclopedia size wine lists at venues like La Tour d’Argent still exist for those who love freedom of choice, which is exactly what a top wine list provides for oenophiles. The other key factor, which elevates Paris above most cities is the sheer volume of educated sommeliers in Paris, who will help you navigate those giant-size lists with ease. These venues are joined by the new kids on the block, smaller restaurants that serve a wide section of good value wines by the glass, often specializing in one region or wine style, natural wines being currently in vogue. Their numbers are growing so we’ve done the hard work for you and selected the best below.

This was a hard list to make, but here are our ten favorite restaurants in Paris for wine lovers:

La Tour d’Argent

15-17 Quai de la Tournelle

Established in 1582, La Tour d’Argent has recovered its top-class status after a slightly shaky period following the death of Claude Terrail in 2006. The main event, other than Chef Laurent Delarbre’s exquisitely refined cooking is the 15,000 bin wine list, surely one of the largest in the world! Head Sommelier David Ridgway is a true professional and will guide you toward the perfect pairing as this list literally has a wine for every eventuality. A must visit for every wine lover once in their lifetime.

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Au Bourguignon du Marais

52 Rue Francois Miron,

Sip a superior wine with your excellent meal here at barely above retail prices, in a fantastic atmosphere! This venue is a dream for locals and tourists alike — great food, polite, attentive service (not always a given in Paris) and a wide selection of affordable wines. The owners generally stay away from the big names, so expect to find unexpected and hidden gems in their fantastic list.

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Spring

6 rue Bailleul

A wonderful restaurant — if you can get a table – Spring has been wowing the Parians food establishment since 2006 with American born Daniel Rose’s take on classic French cuisine. The wine list is a similar delight, carefully compiled by Joshua Adler and presented with aplomb by sommelier Sandra de Barros. Their selections are extensive without being unwieldy, well-chosen and include plenty of affordable options by the glass.

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Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée

25, Avenue Montaigne

One for the traditionalists, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at the hotel Plaza Athénée serves 3 Starred Michelin cuisine as refined and mind-blowing as any you’ll find in Paris. The opulent, formal surroundings are complimented by a classically styled, elaborate wine list which is a Bordeaux lovers delight. Extensive selections of older Bordeaux vintages are on offer, as well as an impressive selection of vintage Champagnes. Sommelier Laurent Roucayrol can assist with your choices but make no mistake, this is a place for a wine splurge, not a place to go on a budget.

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Frenchie

5-6 Rue de Nil

Blink and you’ll miss it, Frenchie is a tiny haven of great bistro style cooking and fantastic wine pairings from small domaines and family enterprises, no big names to be found here! Sommelier Laura Vidal likes to focus on non celebrities, so expect lots of natural wine choices and wines from regions you probably won’t have heard of. A great place to seek out the lesser known.

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Le Grand Vefour

17 Rue de Beaujolais

A monument to the importance of Paris as a capital of Gastronomy, Le Grand Vefour is a 3 Star Michelin restaurant founded in the 18th century. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Paris and has a very long, extensive wine list to match. The bias to French wines is understandable, considering that every major region in France produces long-lived classics. Burgundy lovers are in for a particular treat, but we would head to the Loire for the best value.

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Epicure at Hotel Le Bristol

112, Rue du Fauborg Saint-Honore

Undoubtedly one of the finest hotel dining experiences in Paris, Epicure is a hard act to follow with chef Eric Frechon’s impeccably executed take on the French classics. Locals wait months to get a table at this coveted restaurant, which also houses an extremely fine wine list with a good mix of French and international wine choices. The sommelier is one of the most helpful and obliging we’ve ever met in this city.

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Le Porte-Pot

14 rue Boutebrie

Rising star Guillaume Dupre is as far removed from the sommelier stereotype as can be: warm, friendly and not at all intimating! He has opened a fantastic bistro and wine bar in the heart of St Michel that serves delicious fusion cuisine and some more traditional favorites. His wine list is a delight, imaginatively put together and reasonably priced, he insists on promoting the lesser known and less celebrated. His selection of Beaujolais is second to none.

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Cafe Burq

6 Rue Burq

A real gem in Montmartre’s mass of touristy restaurants, Cafe Burq specializes in bringing you the best selection of organic wines available across France. The wine list isn’t massive, but every wine has been carefully chosen and offers exceptional value for money. Chef Laurent Cardillac creates superb dishes to accompany your wines and this venue is open to 2 am most nights. So there’s no rush to get a table!

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Le Garde-Robe

41 rue de l’Arbre Sec

Let the sommelier duo Nathalie and Robin pair your wines with your food choices and you can’t go far wrong at this delightful bistro near the Louvre. They offer over 200 different wines from around the world, but no list. Instead you simply ask for a recommendation and they will be happy to serve any wine they stock by the glass. Wines are complimented by the ever-changing Plats du Jour choices and a selection of charcuterie and fresh cheeses.

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Wine Tours and Tastings in the Loire Valley Part 1

Posted by gen On March - 18 - 2011

Wine Tours and Tastings in the Loire Valley

By Simona Piccinelli

The Loire Valley is a sinuous strip of vineyards running along the mighty Loire river in the heart of France, from the Massif Central all the way to the Atlantic Ocean. This beautiful region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2000  thanks to its beautiful landscape, gripping history (since Charles VIII moved here, it has been home to the French aristocracy) and literature (Rabelais, Balzac and Alain Fournier were all born here), lavish chateaux, historic towns and villages. We recently had the chance to go visit the region on site inspection and herewith some notes and photos from our trip.

Loire Valley

We took a trip to the wine country to learn about the more than 60 wine appellations (AOC) of the Loire Valley, from Sancerre to Nantes: 7 days, 750 km, 21 wineries, 14 restaurants, from Michelin starred to cozy bistros, 10 chateaux: a tough job, but someone had to do it :)

Photo credit: theeuropeanwinetable.blogspot.com

Photo credit: theeuropeanwinetable.blogspot.com

First stop was Sancerre, home of the same named great white wine, the greatest expression of Sauvignon Blanc. The appellation was created in 1936 (for white wine; for reds and rosés then it was later in 1959) and there are fourteen communes eligible for the appellation. One of them is Chavignol, better known for its famed goat cheese (Crottin de Chavignol). Here you can find the Domaine Henri Bourgeois estate. The Bourgeois family has produced wine for 10 generations; today, it is managed and run by the exuberant Mr. Jean Marie Bourgeois, who increased the estate vineyards up to 65 hectares and also launched a new winery in Marlborough, New Zealand (another Sauvignon Blanc hotspot). His detailed attention to the different terroirs can be easily found in all of his Sancerres. One of our favourite wines was La Bourgeoise, made with 50 year old vines.

Loire Valley Wine TastingLoire Valley Wine Tasting
Another very interesting wines estate  in the area is Daniel Chotard , in Crazancy en Sancerre.

After a quick stop in Gien, famous for its ceramics – and in Orléans – liberated from the English by Jeanne d’Arc in 1429 – we arrived in Blois, home town of Louis XII. We enjoyed a nice walk through the mediaeval cobble stoned alleys and a visit to the Blois castle. It is one of the most important castles in Loire Valley and it features 3 different architecture styles, one for each wing built by different kings: gothic for Louis XII, renaissance for François I and baroque for Gaston d’Orléans.

Finally lunch time!!! At Michelin starred «Au Rendez- vous des pêcheurs» owner -chef Christophe Cosme impressed us with pike perch with potatoes, celery and foie gras, paired with Les Veilleurs Blanc produced  by Michel Quenioux at Domaine de Veilloux.

Loire Valley Wine Tour

Loire Valley Wine Tour

We walked thought many vineyards and visited several wineries in this part of the Touraine and Cheverny appellations and we felt in love with an ancient grape: Romorantin. It is a traditional French white grape, that legend says was introduced to the region by King François I.

We particularly loved Romorantin made by Domaine de Huards and by Henri Marrionet. Domaine de Huards started with 4 hectares in 1950 and now owns 35 hectares thanks to vigneron Michel Gendrier’s energy and obstinacy. He produces natural wines, with biodynamic viticulture. So no chemicals at all in the vineyards, no oenological products (except for small doses of sulfites) and the use of natural yeasts in the cellar. We particularly loved the Cuvée François Ier A.O.C. Cour-Cheverny, made with 100% Romorantin grapes, from 50 to 83 years old vines. It has a fresh bouquet, it is rich on the palate and has an excellent balance. Long and elegant after taste.

Loire Valley Wine ToursLoire Valley Wine Tours

Henri Marrionet at the is one of the leading wine maker of the region. He loves to work with indigenous grape; in his 47 hectares he planted Gamay (and also a lost variety such as Gamay de Bouze) and Cot (known also as Malbec) as the main red varieties; and then Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Romorantin for the white ones. He planted also some ungrafted vines. His wife and daughter-in-law were excellent hosts, we spent a very delightful and interesting afternoon, walking in the vineyards, talking about their vineyard management and wine making philosophy and tasting their wine range.  We were fascinated by Cepages Oubliés 2008 (100% Gamay de Bouze), Vinifera (ungrafted Cot) and Provignage 2005 (100% Romorantin from pre-philloxera vines).

Our home for these days was Domaine Hauts de Loire, a hunting lodge built in 1860, in the middle of a forest with a private lake. It has a 2 Michelin starred restaurant, run by chef Rémy Giraud, who pampered us with his amazing cuisine and his impressive wine list. We really enjoyed the Veille Vigne 1998 Chateau Gaillard.

Loire Valley Wine Tour

Loire Valley Wine Tour
Part 2 Coming Soon…

Chambord

Collioure and Banyuls, a land with two souls

by Ivano Martignetti

Collioure
In the south of France, in the “Pyrénée Orientales” there is a stretch of land which is not only renowned for its beautiful sea and landscapes, but also for the quality of its wines, enhanced by the configuration of the land which requires an heroic viticulture to work the vines, as hard as in “Valtellina” or “Cinque Terre”. Machinery aid is not an option here, all the work has to be done manually and just looking at the steep slopes my back already hurts…
Mediterranean France wine travel notes

This little corner of France is so blessed for winemaking that two AOCs have been granted: Collioure (dry) and Banyuls & Banyuls Grand Cru (Sweet natural wine). Four municipalities have the right to name their wines after these two AOCs and they are all well worth a visit: Collioure, Banyuls sur Mer, Cerbère and Port-Vendres.  Collioure is a must see, rich with archeological heritage from ancient populations, architectural beauties, pastel colored architecture and a beautiful Catalan harbor that inspired artists like Picasso, Matisse, Derain and many others, leading this southern beauty to become a cultural centre in France.

Mediterranean France wine travel notes
The sweet Banyuls wines are a whole world to discover, starting from the small, boutique “caves” such as Domaine de la Casa Blanca (8 hectares in total), where you can really appreciate the human touch of the producers contrasting with the beautiful, historic Cellier des Templiers, producing 80% of total Banyuls and Banyuls Grand Cru production. Pair the wines of Banyuls with dark chocolate, chocolate cakes or even cheese, French of course.

Mediterranean France wine travel notes
Collioure is an AOC which includes white, rosé and red wines. Reds are typical southern wines, rich of tannins and alcohol, very enjoyable after a few years. A blend of Grenache noir, Carignan and sometimes Mourvedre, Syrah and Cinsault will make your meals  joyous occasions!

Mediterranean France wine travel notes

Best Luxury Beach Resorts in Europe this Summer

Posted by gen On July - 16 - 2010

It´s sizzling this summer in Europe and a few days on the coast are definitely in order! Some suggestions for luxury coastal hotels  by country:

FRANCE

chateau_eza 1

Château Eza- Eze: The ultimate French Riviera hideaway. Think lifestyles of the rich and famous, this charming medieval hamlet spills over a clifftop overlooking the Med. The small luxury hotel has a Michelin starred restaurant and Birdseye views over the sparkling sea.

best beach resorts in Europe

Hôtel du Cap Eden Roc – Antibes:  this hotels attracts the most beautiful, chic and rich jetsetters in Europe. Gorgeous setting.

best beach resorts in Europe

Le Mas de Langoustier – Porquerolles: Less bling bling than the Riviera, Porquerolles island in a natural paradise and has sublime views and a stay here is about the setting and the sea.

luxury sea side resorts Europe

Hotel du Palais- Biarritz:  The ultimate aristocrats playground. The Duchess of Alba is said to take a suite here for a month every year, and Russian aristocrats have been so enamored of this resort they built a Russian orthodox church across the street! Biarritz is located in the beautiful French Pays Basque, a hop skip and a jump from Spain´s gourmet Basquelands.  A stay here could pair well with some time in the Bordeaux wine county, or indeed in San Sebastian across the border.

GREECE

Best beach hotels Europe

Elounda Beach Hotel- Crete: wow, this is an amazing place located on Crete´s northeastern coastline. Highlights include the dramatic location, Chenot spa, and those sea view rooms..

ITALY

best beach resorts in Europe

Il San Pietro – Positano, Amalfi Coast: Few hotels can compete with San Pietro in Italy in terms of location and luxury. Located in the dreamy village of Positano, this hotel is a great base for exploring Campania. Must sees and dos include Ravello, Furore, a meal at Don Alfonso 1890, wine tasting in Irpinia, pizza in Naples, Pompeii…featured in our luxury tours of Amalfi Coast.

best beach resorts in Europe

La Plage resort – Sicily: Spectacular location in Sicily´s prettiest corner, Taormina. Really a collection of villas, tastefully tucked into lush gardens, this is a terrific choice for a few days by the sea. While in Taormina, don´t miss the Ancient Greek theatre and wine tasting near Mount Etna.

Best luxury beach resorts Europe

Il Pellicano – Maremma, Tuscany: stylish resort in southern Tuscany, attracting a real “it” crowd.   If you can peel yourself away from the pool scene, why not enjoy a luxury wine tour of the local Super Tuscans?

best beach resorts in Europe

Fortino Napoleonico – Marche: beautiful setting in undiscovered Marche, coined the “new Tuscany” by the New York Times. Unspoiled, amazing food here and dreamy scenery.

PORTUGAL

Best luxury beach resorts Europe

Vila Vita- Algarve: Moorish inspired design and resort is spread over 50 hectares of gardens and with inviting sea views. The kind of resort where if you want to stay in a cocoon, you have everything you need on site- various restaurants, spa, pools, etc. Tips in fine dining in the area here.

SPAIN

Luxury beach resorts Europe

La Gavina- north of Barcelona, you´ll find this graceful resort in an unspoiled section of the Costa Brava. White and airy, it has a 1920′s feel. Romantic outdoor restaurant with candlelight and piano… while in the Costa Brava, explore the Emporda wine country.

luxury beach resorts Europe

Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa – Marbella:  a resort for those looking for golf and sun y basta. It does golf and sun, and does them well :) If you have a craving for culture and a bit of real Spain, drive up to Ronda, a beautiful village with a terrific restaurant, Tragabuches.

Bordeaux En Primeur Tasting, Futures- 2009 Vintage

Posted by gen On April - 12 - 2010

Bordeaux En Primeur Tasting,  Futures- 2009 Vintage

By Lindsay Morriss, Bordeaux correspondent

Bordeaux Futures 2009 Vintage

One of the world’s most renowned wine tastings is the Bordeaux Primeurs. This event is not open to the general public, but organized specifically for the wine trade as a venue to gather professionals from around the world to taste the most recent vintage. Each spring, thousands of journalists, critics, importers, sommeliers, and other influential personalities descend upon Bordeaux to sample wines from the most recent vintage.

These wines represent some of Bordeaux’s most prestigious labels, such as Lafite, Margaux, Petrus, Cheval Blanc and d’Yquem. The objective of tasting these wines is to get an overall feel for the quality of the most recent vintage, which will determine the price at which these wines should be released to the market. Once pricing has been set, they will be sold in the form of futures―otherwise referred to as selling the wine en primeur.

Bordeaux Futures 2009

Bordeaux wine purchased as futures is made from grapes harvested the previous fall. Those who purchase wine futures do so to secure supply for highly demanded wines, but also because it is anticipated that the wine’s price will increase by the time it is bottled and released to the market (generally 2-3 years post-harvest).

The wines tasted at the annual Primeurs are barrel samples of very youthful wine that is meant to age in barrel for approximately two more years, and then for many more years in bottle. Therefore, these wines are unfinished and generally unpleasant to taste. When evaluating unfinished wines, you are not looking for appealing flavor, but rather for characteristics indicating that the wine is balanced and has good aging ability such as structure, complexity, high acidity, and a long finish.

Primeurs 2009

During the last week of March into the beginning of April 2010, nearly 6,000 professionals traveled to Bordeaux to participate in Primeurs 2009. The Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (a club representing 132 of Bordeaux’s premier chateaux that stages events around the world to promote the region’s fine wine offering) organized a series of tastings grouped by appellation; whereas, the most prestigious Bordeaux chateaux held their own private tastings at the estate, which could be attended by appointment only.

Bordeaux Futures 2009

I had the opportunity to participate in these tastings because I am currently interning with the Bordeaux-based wine merchant, Millésima S.A.  Together with several members from the Marketing team, we attended all UGC tastings to cover the entire Bordeaux region. Our day began in Médoc on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, where we tasted all Médoc appellations, as well as Bordeaux’s sweet wines from Sauternes and Barsac. The following day we visited Graves/Pessac-Léognan, then traveled to St. Emilion and Pomerol on the Right Bank.

UGC Program: Primeurs 2009

Location                                           Appellation

Day 1

Château Batailley                       St. Julien, Pauillac & St. Estèphe
Château Desmirail                     Margaux
Château Cantemerle                 Médoc, Haut Médoc, Moulis & Listrac
Château Dauzac                          Sauternes & Barsac

Day 2

Château Smith Haut Lafitte   Graves & Pessac-Léognan
Château Beau Séjour Bécot      St. Emilion Grand Cru
Château Gazin                             Pomerol

Bordeaux Futures 2009

Overall, the 2009 Bordeaux vintage was a bit exceptional in that these wines were marked with intense fruit flavors and honestly, were not at all unpleasant to sample! This was the result of a long growing season with almost four months (July through October) of ideal weather, namely warm, dry days and cool nights. As a result, sugar levels were high and the berries were small (with less water), but contained very concentrated juice.

Bordeaux Futures 2009

There have been many claims that 2009 is among Bordeaux’s best vintages in recent memory. After reading the opinions of well-known wine journalists, as well as developing my own impressions from having sampled many of these wines, I would conclude that 2009 is overall a very good vintage featuring some outstanding wines; though, at the same time has also produced wines that are over-extracted or a bit green from not having been harvested at the right moment. In general, the long growing season favored wines with blends made from predominately Cabernet Sauvignon; whereas, the Merlot-based blends weren’t always as well balanced. However, that is not to say every wine will fit this mold.

Bordeaux Futures 2009

For anyone looking to purchase wine futures, I recommend reading several opinions on the same wine, as well as identifying a trusted merchant who can offer professional advice regarding which wines feature the best aging characteristics. As with buying futures of any traditional financial instrument, there is always a risk that the price will decrease. However, a well-made wine (especially from an acclaimed vintage) will have superb aging ability, leading the wine to appreciate in value over time.

Bordeaux Futures 2009

Bordeaux in Autumn

Posted by gen On December - 1 - 2009

We just spent most of the month of November in Bordeaux on site inspection as we are developing new wine tours there. We visited 32 wineries on this particular trip and checked out loads of restaurants (more on that, later!), met wine guides and limo drivers and all the usual inspection tour stuff. What is always amazing about traveling in the wine country in autumn are the COLORS, wow, we saw some magnificent landscapes. Here are some shots from our trip, enjoy!

BORDEAUX VINEYARDS

BORDEAUX VINEYARDS

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn

Bordeaux in Autumn


Keeping things light:

Here are some of our suggestions for the weirdest and wackiest museums in Europe.

Enjoy this silly list, and feel free to send us your tips for weird museums or tourist attractions you have encountered while travelling in Europe-

1. Museum of Sewers, Paris

Weirdest Museums in Europe

Info

2. Stockfish museum, Norway

Weirdest museums in Europe

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3. Phallus Museum in Iceland- seriously…

Weirdest museums in Europe

Info

4. Medieval Torture and Crime museum in San Gimignano, Italy

Weird museums Europe

Info

5. The Fan Museum, England

Fan Museum, England

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6. Moscow Cat Museum

Weird museums Europe

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7. The German Leather Museum

Weird museums Europe

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8. Bandit Museum, Ronda, Spain

Fun museums Europe

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9. Witchcraft Museum, England

Weird museums Europe

Info

10. Erotic Museum Amsterdam

Weird museums Europe

Info

The southwest of France is a treasure trove of bijoux villages, spirit lifting landscapes and superb food and wine experience. The Dordogne and Perigord in particular are simply breathtaking and magical places which we cannot recommend highly enough. You can sleep in fairy tale Châteaux, meander through the region’s spectacular rivers, visit picturesque hamlets and taste some of the best traditional cuisine in France. Best of all, this is an exceptionally friendly area where you will receive a truly warm welcome.

Most beautiful villages Dordogne

Here are just a few of the many reasons why you should seriously start planning your next vacation in Dordogne/Perigord:

1. Sarlat

Most beautiful villages Dordogne

2. Perigord Truffles

Perigord Truffles

3. Domme

Perigord villages

4. Wines of Cahors

Cahors wine country

5. Brantome- Venice of Perigord

Brantome, Venice of Perigord

6. Rocamadour

Spiritual Dordogne

7. Monbazillac wine country

Monbazillac wine country

8. Monpazier

Beautiful Monpazier in Dordogne

9. Saint Cirq Lapopie

Beautiful Dordogne

10. Ancient man- Perigord is full of prehistoric sites and caves such as the Gouffre de Proumeyssac

Ancient caves in Perigord

Where to stay in Dordogne/Perigord.  We love the classic Vieux Logis in gorgeous Tremolat, the stylish and refreshingly contemporary Les Merles, the  Château de la Treyne for its Michelin starred dining and unbelievable position over the river, the Château Vigiers for golf lovers, Château les Baudry for cozy French hospitality and Le Moulin de l’ Abbaye for a romantic escapade.

What to do: Go river rafting on the Dordogne, truffle hunting, take a private cooking class, explore medieval villages, go wine tasting and vineyard hopping, enjoy long walks in the stunning countryside, take a river cruise on a traditional gabarre boat at Beynac, pop into the wine museum in Bergerac (home of the literary Cyrano de Bergerac) and riverside picnics with foie gras and local wines.

Private chauffeured tours of the Dordogne/Perigord- contact Cellar Tours for a custom designed luxurious gourmet itinerary including unique food and wine experiences.

Beautiful Dordogne

Unique Marriage Proposal Ideas

Are you thinking of popping the question and just can’t think of where to do it or how to make it special?

Do you want to organize the time of her life and cherish the memories of your proposal day forever?

Are you looking for a unique, incomparable, ultra romantic and creative wedding proposal idea?

Well, you have come to the right place! We are incorrigible romantics and have a few ideas that are sure to make her so impressed, she will say “yes”:

1). VERONA, ITALY- ROMEO & JULIET

Verona wedding proposal

Spend a night in one of the most romantic historic hotels in Italy- in the courtyard of Juliet’s house in Verona, booking the room “Il Cuore” at the magical “Il Sogno di Giulietta”, overlooking Juliet’s courtyard and balcony. In the morning, go out to your private terrace for a champagne breakfast where she will see a medieval style banner hanging from Juliet’s balcony, saying “Will you marry me?”. Below, a private serenade with local musicians will be the final coup de grace!

Verona wedding proposal

2). BARCELONA , SPAIN- JEEP RIDE THROUGH THE VINES & PICNIC

Wedding proposal ideas

Your Mercedes will pick you up at your hotel in Barcelona and sweep you away to the Penedès wine country, about an hour south. Upon arrival to the wine estate, meet your charming hosts and hop into the jeep to tour the beautiful vineyards. Stop at a the 13th century hermitage on the property, at the hill´s summit and a romantic picnic will be set up for you. When the Cava bottle is popped, you can pop the question while looking out at the vast vineyards and Mediterranean sea in the distance. Follow with a private tour of the estate and celebrate with a glass of their excellent “Honeymoon”, an interesting single varietal wine, made with 100% Parellada, an aromatic Catalan grape.

3). DOURO VALLEY, PORTUGAL- WINE CRUISE

Wedding proposal ideas

If you or your partner are port wine lovers, there is no better place to spend this special day than in the breathtaking Douro Valley. Stay at the luxury spa hotel Aquapura and about an hour before sunset take a private Rabelo cruise on the Douro River. These are replica Vintage boats traditionally used to carry the wine down the river from Douro to the lodges in Oporto. Sip chilled white port while taking in the views of the vineyards and colonial style Quintas. On one of them, a banner with “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” will be displayed when the boat passes by. When you get back to the hotel, rose petals will have been spread around your hotel room, and a bottle of bubbly awaits…

Wedding proposal ideas

4). MADRID, SPAIN- WINE, ART AND ROMANCE

Marriage Proposal Wine and Art

For art and wine lovers, Madrid is an interesting destination. Begin the morning with a private guided tour of the outstanding Prado museum with a focus on wine throughout the ages and in art.  To follow, enjoy a supremely entertaining private wine tasting masterclass in a 19th century refined building with exceptionally friendly and knowledgeable hosts. Among the bottles lined on the table, one will have a custom made label saying  “Will you marry me?” Your celebratory toast will be with the stunning Krpta cava.

Marriage Proposal Wine and Art

5). VENICE, ITALY-PRIVATE COOK´S TOUR AND SUNSET GONDOLA

Marriage Proposals in Europe

No woman can resist a man who cooks. So, why not organize a market tour and a private cooking class for the two of you as part of your vacation in Italy. Venice is the ultimate romantic destination and you can spend a day taking in a Rialto market tour with gourmet tastings and learn how to cook the perfect Italian meal!  After the lunch with your private and charming chef, tasting your own creations, you will get a diploma. On your girlfriend’s one, it will read “Will you marry me?. Finish this unforgettable day with a gondola ride at sunset with bubbles on board!

Marriage Proposals in Europe

6). TUSCANY, ITALY- HOT AIR BALLOON AT SUNRISE

Marriage Proposals in Europe

As a day excursion from Florence to Siena, head to the Chianti wine country at dawn and watch the spectacular colors of the early morning over the olive groves and medieval villages as you float over this fairy tale land on your own private hot air balloon. When your champagne toast is served on board,  a note will accompany the tray saying “Say yes and let´s have a reason to celebrate, marry me!” When you land, your driver will be waiting and you´ll spend a day in the wine country including an incredible Michelin starred lunch in a 14th century hamlet.

Marriage Proposals in Europe

7). BORDEAUX, FRANCE- SUNSET PROPOSAL AT TOP CHATEAU

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Spend a night at a gorgeous Chateau in Bordeaux´s left bank on the “Chateaux Route”, taking in a private dinner in the historic dining room. At sunset, go for a walk on the manicured grounds, and as you are served your aperitif by elegant waiter, the box for the ring will be presented with the wine along with a single rose. Voilà, the perfect moment to propose.

8). CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE-TOAST IN THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE WORLD´S BEST BUBBLY

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Take a day tour to Champagne from Paris. After a morning of wine tasting, enjoy a gourmet aphrodisiac´s lunch on a private terrace facing the vineyards. Your waiter will be working with you on this, now when you select the wine, he will come back with a magnum bottle of champagne. On it your fiancée´s name will be painted on it, along with the message of your choice. A variation of the champagne theme can be a private “sabrage” in a champagne cave like at the beautiful Pommery cellar, where you will have the perfect private moment to propose.

Marriage Proposals in Europe

9). PRIORAT, SPAIN- HELICOPTER WEDDING PROPOSAL AND WINE TASTING

Unique marriage proposal ideas

If money is no object and you want to have the experience of a lifetime, spend a day visiting a top Priorat vineyard Costers del Siurana by private helicopter from Barcelona. When you arrive to the wine estate the owner himself will board the helicopter with you and you´ll get expert commentary on this gorgeous region with its terraced vineyards from the air. Land again and cruise the vineyards by landrover before carrying on to a vertical tasting of top vintages at the winery. An 8 course gourmet feast is next, each course paired with estate wines. When things can´t get any better, the dessert will be presented, with the ring inside the tart. Absolutely fantastic way to propose.

10). ROSS CASTLE, IRELAND- PRIVATE BOAT AND PROPOSAL IN MYSTICAL LAKE

Unique marriage proposal ideas

Your driver and vintage Rolls Royce will collect you at your hotel in Ireland´s Kerry or Cork regions and you´ll travel through idyllic landscapes to the ethereal Killarney lakes. Board a private boat at Ross Castle, and once you have sailed tot he middle of the lake, your gourmet picnic basket will be presented. Smoked organic salmon, artisan Irish cheeses, homemade Gubbeen oatcakes and of course a chilled bottle of champagne will be included. Present your lover with an Irish Claddagh ring as the engagement ring…

Ireland wedding proposals

More great ideas of how to pop the question:

* Treasure Hunt in a Castle

* Horsedrawn Carriage Proposal

* Horseback riding at sunset through the vineyards

* Private dinner in a vineyard

* Venetian Carnival and Masquerade Dance Proposal

More info: Cellar Tours offer fabulous custom designed marriage proposal tours

Marriage Proposals in Europe

Ten Best Things about Bordeaux

Posted by gen On August - 7 - 2009

We just spent a week in Bordeaux on a fabulous site inspection and can´t praise this graceful and friendly city highly enough. Called the “Mini Paris”, Bordeaux is an absolute must for wine lovers and equally interesting for foodies, architectural buffs and history lovers.

Here is a quick list of the top ten things you can´t miss while visiting Bordeaux:

1. The Regent Hotel- hot, new, very glam

Best of Bordeaux Regent Hotel and Restaurant

2. The Châteaux of the Left Bank

Best of Bordeaux Left Bank Chateaux

3. Romantic Saint Emilion

Best of Bordeaux St Emilion

4. Lunch at cozy La Tupina

Best of Bordeaux La Tupina

5. Cap Ferret´s shabby chic oyster haunts

Best of Bordeaux Cap Ferret

6. Thierry Marx´s 2 * Restaurant at Cordeillan Bages

Best of Bordeaux thierry_marx

7. Biking through the vineyards at Franc Mayne

Best of Bordeaux Franc Mayne

8. Dinner at Le St James in charming Bouliac- what a view!

Best of Bordeaux le-saint-james

9. Sand Dunes near Arcachon

Best of Bordeaux Arcachon peninsula sand dunes

10.Chapon Fin- an institution

Best of Bordeaux Chapon Fin