10 of Champagne’s Unexpected Pleasures: 24 hours In and Around Reims, France for #Winophiles

Sue and I on the TGV, a bullet train that zips from Charles de Gaulle airport to Reims in no time! Order your ticket in advance for best prices!

  1. Taking the bullet train from the airport to Reims at sunset after taking a red-eye from LAX.

    Sue waits at the brand new train station just outside of Reims You’ll need a ride or to take a local train to get into town.

  2. Having an appointment at biodynamic winery with Cyril Collard first thing in the morning where you get to meet the son and the father, visit the cellar, taste your first red wine made in Bouzy, Champagne, and learn how they moved from selling commercially made grapes to making their own biodynamic wines.

    Former sommelier Cyril Collard with his dad in their tasting room in Bouzy. You should call in advance to make an appointment!

  3. Enjoying a leisurely lunch on the mainly pedestrian Place de Erlon in downtown Reims with a view of a famous fountain and sculpture.

    The Place de Erlon features this fountain, Sube, that depicts the four rivers of the region with a sculpture on top La Glorie. The streets in this part of town are largely pedestrian. You should definitely plan some down time relaxing and listening to the water!


  4.  Using a tablet to take a tour of Reim’s Notre Dame Cathedral and downtown.

    You can spend a few minutes or a few hours; plan to join a tour to climb the towers!


  5. Understanding because of the world wars why there’s so much art deco architecture and seeing vibrant color and art everywhere.

    You can take the walking tour with the tablet or just wander around on your own!


  6. Gazing on the Mars Arch from when Romans ruled the western world including this part of France.

    You will feel dwarfed by the size and the age of this Roman Empire Arch from the 3c that’s at one end of a park at the edge of downtown near the new metro center.


  7. Resting in a hammock in the park near the Mars Arch.

    Got jet lag? Reims has hammocks! You could spend all day in this park near the Mars arch! A grocery store nearby could provide all you need for your picnic!


  8. Meeting a friend at the L’Epicerie Au Bon Manger, a small epicurean market with exquisite humanely raised charcuterie and natural wines (and then learning you can support them during COVID-19 and order from them online!).

    You will have a difficult time choosing cheeses and charcuterie from the wide selection!

  9. Checking out the nightlife and wine bars after dark including the Glue Pot.

    You can find the Glue Pot and many other resources on Facebook!

  10. A late night stop to check out — and participate in– the pressing of biodynamic grapes gravity fed into barrel.

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A Preview to Champagne’s Unexpected Pleasures with the French #Winophiles

late night cranking in Champagne 

When the #Winophiles sought subjects for 2020 prompts, Sue suggested we do “unexpected pleasures” in Champagne.

Wine Predators Gwendolyn Alley and Sue Hill take a selfie in Reims outside the Cathedral.

Because when we were there in advance of competing in the World Wine tasting Championships, we of course expected Continue reading

Cariñena Coop Vinícola San Valero Celebrates 75 Years with New Brands and #WineStudio

Celebrating 75 years of winemaking, Cariñena’s Cooperativa Vinícola San Valero, formerly known as Grupo Bodegas San Valero, recently launched of a new corporate structure with new proprietary brands that maintain the passion and spirit of the founding winemakers of 1944. Continue reading

#RoséAllDay for #RoséDay: 3 from New York’s Finger Lakes #WinePW

What follows #RoséAllMay?


What pairs well with summer? Rosé!

Also fall, winter, and spring if you ask me!

Yep, for me it’s rosé wine all day every day please!

The second Saturday of June, today, June 13 is Rosé Wine Day, and to celebrate, we have three rosé wines from the Finger Lakes region of New York, a region just south of Lake Ontario and the city of Rochester in the northern part of the state. The deep glacial lakes moderate the temperatures so that wine grapes thrive– they don’t die or get damaged from frost in winter or spring and they don’t get too hot in the summer.

“Why do the bottles say ‘dry” rosé wine?” someone asked.

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Two Riesling from the Finger Lakes Paired with a Potluck #WinePW

As summer gatherings become more of a reality after a spring of staying home, you may wonder what to bring to that potluck on the horizon.

Riesling is a great choice for a potluck because it goes with such a wide range of foods. Especially easy drinking and affordable riesling from New York’s Finger Lakes region!

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ZOOM BOOM and an invitation to VeroTalk featuring Ventura County’s Clos des Amis Winemakers

There’s definitely been a ZOOM boom the past few months. During these crazy COVID days, when getting out to go wine tasting is fraught with challenges, wineries and wine educators have gone crazy with ZOOM.

At first, it was easy to keep track of the various offerings I learned about from emails, twitter, facebook, etc. But now there are so many amazing opportunities to learn from the experts about wine in free or reasonably priced ZOOM, Facebook live, Instagram and other online sessions that it’s hard to know which to do!

Of course, I’ve been participating in online wine sessions for years with Snooth, #winestudio, #ItalianWFT, #WinePW, #Winophiles, and so many more where I’ve been sent samples of wine and learned about wines from all over the world using twitter, facebook, and other platforms, public and private, to communicate.

Since the pandemic, I’ve also joined in Zoom chats. Just like any educational opportunity, much depends on the facilitator. This is where people like Elaine Chukan Brown, with her background as a college professor, have excelled. I’ve also been impressed by:

This week, out of all of the choices that have proliferated, both live and available on YouTube, I have calendared five sessions:

  • today from 5-6pm, blind wine tasting with David Glancy
  • today from 6-7pm  #winestudio’s session on Lugana’s Geography
  • Weds from 5-6pm with Clos des Amis (details below)
  • Thursday at 2pm with Nick Jackson on discerning three red wines
  • Saturday at 8am on New York’s Finger Lakes with #WinePW

On Wednesday, I will be on the other side of the ZOOM chat! Please join me virtually for the next VeroTalk when I’ll join winemakers Bruce Freeman and Gretel Compton in Santa Paula for “Old World Style Wines from the New World in an Undiscovered Part of California” on

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5 Sangiovese, 4 Terroirs, 3 Producers, 2 Regions, 1 Country #ItalianFWT

It’s a countdown: five Sangiovese, four terroirs, three producers, two regions, one country, and one importer — Verovino– for this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel group of wine writers! Here’s the invitation from host, Wendy Klik.

Sangiovese is the grape in that ubiquitous Chianti bottle, you know the one in the straw basket. They used those baskets, called fiasco, (seriously!) to help with shipping back in the day. Learn more about Chianti here.

Sangiovese is grown in other areas of Italy in addition to Chianti, with most of it grown in the central parts of Italy and in Sicily. Today we’ll be looking at five wines: two from Tuscany, home of Chianti, and three from neighboring Emilia-Romagna. One is actually from Chianti, and four from other areas worth exploring.

I’ve been on a deep dive into sangiovese this week, starting with sangiovese based blends from the west coast (read it here), then a focused tasting with a vertical from Ranchita Canyon Vineyard (read about it here), and now, back to the homeland with these five from Italy imported by Verovino.

The common denominator for wines imported by Verovino founder Sheila Donahue? Continue reading