Musical Pairings with Banfi

WineStyles Tasting Station:

Great tips for Chianti …..

Originally posted on SAHMmelier:

When it comes to stocking your wine fridge, or cellar if you’re lucky, you can and should do so with several things in mind.  You have those special occasion bottles and the duplicates for comparative purposes.  You have the obscure blend you found at your favorite store and the ones you picked up at the winery.  And then you have the others.

If you have the means and the storage, you have several bottles that are Monday wines.  Wines that you know are the old reliables.  Wines that you can open and not finish and not worry.  The wines that you can pop for any reason or no reason and not have to think about them.

Wines that qualify need to be affordable and versatile.  Maybe you buy them by the case, maybe you stock up during the semi-annual sale.  One favorite red for such purposes is Chianti.

Chianti is…

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Day 7 – Last Day on the Seine!

Rack of Lamb

Rack of Lamb

Liz Barrett with AMA Waterways

Liz Barrett with AMA Waterways

Apricot Trilogy

Apricot Trilogy

We are back in Paris for the final leg of our Celebration of Wine Cruise on the Seine! Last evening we dined at the Chef’s Table specialty restaurant at the ship’s stern. Chef prepared chicken carpaccio with tuna – basil cream, pan fried salmon with sesame – lavender crust and porcini salsa, grilled lamb rack with herb mash potato, rijta, and broccoli, and a dessert honoring the apricot – a spoonful of apricot sorbet in a waffled caramelized crepe, an apricot pastry dumpling, and a shot glass of Marillen liqueur!

Place de Vosges, Marais

Place de Vosges, Marais

French Garden, Marais

French Garden, Marais

Crepes Cart

Crepes Cart

Moulin Rouge Selfie

Moulin Rouge Selfie

Today’s excursion explored the Marais neighborhood of Paris, featuring remnants of the ancient wall of Paris, the mansions of the French nobility, and the traditional home to Paris’ Jewish population. We strolled through the Place de Vosges and visited its art galleries and cafes. Once back to the ship, we enjoyed a Champagne tasting with Preston Mohr, learning about the Champagne region of France, levels of sweetness in Champagne, and the difference between vintage and non-vintage Champagnes. Did you know that vintage Champagne takes less effort to produce than non-vintage because vintage Champagne is supposed to have a unique taste, while non-vintage must have a consistent taste year after year, even though grapes are used from different growing years? Tonight Chef prepared a special Thanksgiving entrée of turkey meat, prune stuffing, French crosne, beet root, carrot mash, and cider sauce for the American passengers as well as a scrumptious cream of pumpkin soup. After dinner, Belgian classical artist La Strada performed in the lounge, delivering a beautiful collection of stringed arrangements with their guitar and violin.

Montmartre Artist Colony

Montmartre Artist Colony

Eiffel Tower at Night

Eiffel Tower at Night

We spent our additional free day in Paris taking in the exquisite artwork of Monet, Cezanne, Renoir, Rousseau, Picasso, Matisse, Degas, Manet, Redon, and Rodin at the Musee d’Orsay and the Musee de L’Orangerie, and exploring the sights and sounds of Montmartre. Montmartre is a fascinating area of Paris, featuring the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the Moulin Rouge, and many art galleries and cafes. We saved the grand finale for last, ascending to the very top of the Eiffel Tower after dinner that night! What an incredible view of the romantic City of Light!

Grand Palais, Paris

Grand Palais, Paris

Barry and Kim Wiss

Barry and Kim Wiss

Executive Team

Executive Team

Au Revior, AMALegro!

Au Revior, AMALegro!

As difficult as it is to say au revoir to France, we are anxious to return to our family and friends in North Carolina and at Winestyles. We have made many priceless memories and some new friends as well. We cannot say enough about our AMA Waterways experience – the service, attention to detail, caring attitude of the crew, the exquisite food and beverage, and the overall accommodations aboard AMALegro have been top notch. One of our fellow passengers summed it up well when she said “every day has been both enjoyable and educational”.

Thank you to our Trinchero wine hosts, Barry and Kim Wiss, who have also been gracious in sharing their experience and knowledge. What a terrific way to experience a country – there is substantial truth in the statement “an ocean cruise takes you to a country; a river cruise takes you through a country”!

Truly the best way to TASTE, LEARN and ENJOY! :)

Cheers,

Michael and Tiffany Reynolds, proprietors of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

Day 6 – Cruising on the Seine!

Picturesque View of the Seine Valley

Tiffany and Michael – Picturesque view of the Seine valley

Bonjour! 

Emily and Alex Serving Normandy Lunch

Emily and Alex serving Normandy lunch

Selection des Frommages

Selection des frommages

Chef Stefan Serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Chef Stefan serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Day 6 on the Seine began with another informative wine education presentation by Barry Wiss. We learned of the humble beginnings of the Trinchero family in Napa and its continued dedication to responsible agribusiness, producing wine using biodynamic practices to conserve energy, recycle, and re-purpose by-products. Barry also explained how to read French wine labels, from discerning AOC from AOP to which varietals are affiliated with Bordeaux and Bourgogne. Finally, we played “What’s Your Wine?”, and learned that the true parent grape of Zinfandel is not Primitivo from Italy but Crijenak Kastelanski from Croatia! Afterwards, Chef treated us to a Normandy Lunch, celebrating the various dairy, apple, and seafood products indigenous to the region. All week we have witnessed our Hotel Manager Markus return from the villages with a smile on his face and his arms full of fresh produce, shellfish, and baked goods! Bon Appetit!!

Petit Andely

Petit Andely

Peter's Cricifixion Notre Dame Stained Glass

Notre Dame Stained Glass – Peter’s Crucifixion

Petit Andely Village Corner

Petit Andely Village Corner

Our afternoon excursion took us to the cobblestone streets of Les Andelys, made up of Grand Andely and Petit Andely. In Grand Andely, we toured another Cathedral of Notre Dame, this one built for the queen in the 14th century. The stained glass in this cathedral is nothing short of spectacular! Les Andelys is a picturesque mosaic of early Norman architecture, idyllic natural scenery, and the sensory delights of a cozy French village.

 

Grazing Sheep

Grazing Sheep

High above the village lie the ancient ruins of Chateau Gaillard, a castle built by Richard the Lionheart in 1198 to protect Rouen and the rest of Normandy from King Phillip II and the French. Hewn from the chalk white limestone cliffs that adorn the river valley, Chateau Gaillard was the strongest fortress of its age. After Richard’s death, Phillip finally laid siege to the castle and captured it in 1204. It became a French historical monument in 1862.

Taste, Learn and Enjoy,

Tiffany & Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

Day 4 & 5 on the Seine!

Chocolate Mousse Tart with Pistachio Ice Cream

Chocolate mousse tart with pistachio ice cream

Rouen City Block

Rouen city block

Wow, what a dinner last night – poached chicken with capers and tuna sauce, deep fried Camembert, and chocolate mousse tart with pistachio ice cream and forest berry sauce! Le chef du AMALegro est fantastique et la cuisine est extraordinaire! Today we are in Rouen, another Normandy destination full of history and old world charm!

Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted

Tomb of Richard the Lionhearted

Towering Cathedral Nave

Towering cathedral nave

Window Shopping Nuns

Window shopping nuns

 

It seems that in every sizable French village and city, the Catholic Church has built a monumental cathedral honoring her first lady. Originally constructed in 1125, Cathedrale Notre Dame de Rouen features breathtaking interior beauty as well as intriguing history. We learned that during the World War II bombardment of Rouen, several allied bombs fell astray and significantly damaged the cathedral. On one side, a bomb took out six of the eight flying buttresses designed to support the main structure, but left the shrine to Saint Catherine intact. The fact that the entire cathedral did not buckle and fall is referred to as the “Miracle of Saint Catherine”. We also viewed the tombs of Rollo the Viking Warrior (Robert I) and Richard the Lionhearted, the first and last Dukes of Normandy.

Rouen Toy Shop Display

Rouen toy shop display

La Couronne

La Couronne

On a more secular note, the cobblestone streets of the city were bustling with early Christmas shoppers and lined with a mixture of local artisan and high-end Parisian brand shops decked out for the holiday season. On the square of Joan of Arc is La Couronne, the Michelin 3 star restaurant where Julia Child got her inspiration to produce her famous cooking show. We also viewed the monument commemorating Claude Monet’s visit to Rouen when he included Notre Dame in his series of cathedral paintings, as well as the former brothel from which he painted it!

Patisserie Macarons

Patisserie macarons

Church of Joan of Arc

Church of Joan of Arc

At the cathedral is the court in which Joan of Arc was tried and sentenced to death by burning. This brave young woman, “called by God” to lead the French in battle to resist the English, entered the king’s army disguised as a boy at the age of 16, led the French in numerous victories, was captured by the English, burnt at the stake in Rouen in 1431 at 19, and eventually canonized a saint of the Catholic Church in 1920. We visited the site of her execution and the unique church built there in her honor.

The French Love Their Beer Too!

The French love their beer too!

Rouen Gilded Clock

Rouen Gilded Clock

Upon return to the ship we were greeted by Capt. Franck with a champagne toast at the traditional Captain’s Dinner, which featured five courses with accompanying California wine pairings from Trinchero Family Estates, including a Napa Cellars Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, a Folie a Deux Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and a very nice dessert compliment, Terra d’Oro Zinfandel Port. The meal was delectable, featuring French truffle-goose liver pate, cream of fennel soup with poached Atlantic sea bass and Pernod, and “Medaillon d’Agneau Mont Saint Michel” (a wonderful lamb dish).

Until tomorrow…..cheers!

Tiffany and Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

 

Day 3 – On the Seine!

Bonjour from the Seine!

Norman Cottage with Thatch Roof

Norman cottage with thatch roof

View of Honfluer from our Cafe

View of Honfluer from our cafe

Honfleur Calvados Shop

Honfleur Calvados shop

Honfleur certainly lived up to its reputation as a picturesque seaside village!  Narrow medieval cobblestone streets jammed with shops selling Calvados, Pommeau, artwork, antiques, clothing , and other local artisan products, and cafes serving crepes, pastries, wine, beer, and “fruit de mer” – fresh local seafood. The tiny harbor is home to an active fishing fleet of 15 boats, and fresh oysters, mussels, shrimp, turbot, and sole is harvested daily. The bus ride to the coast brought us through the Normandy countryside, resplendent with its small family farms, Norman cows, sheep, quaint stone-hewn chateaux, and traditional thatch-roofed cottages.

Honfleur Harbor

Honfleur Harbor

Le Chien!

Le Chien!

Chateaubriand

Chateaubriand

Our dinner last night featured Chateaubriand and Crepe Chanterelle, Bourgogne Aligote (vin blanc), and Valle des Oliviers Cotes du Rhone (vin rouge). We capped the day with a competitive game of music trivia in the piano lounge. We had no idea that Charlie Chaplin wrote “Smile”!

Still docked in Caudebec-en-Caux, Sunday featured a very special excursion by bus to the Normandy D-Day beaches. Our guide provided a terrific history of World War II, the occupation of France, and the allied invasion on that fateful day in June of 1944.

Allied Tank

Allied Tank

Omaha Beach Memorial

Omaha Beach Memorial

American Cemetery

American Cemetery

Bomb Crater

Bomb crater

Pointe du Hoc

Pointe du Hoc

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the event, and the tour of the beaches, battlefields, memorials, and museums was both awe-inspiring and sobering at the same time. At Pointe du Hoc, we explored bunkers, bomb craters, and viewed the sheer cliffs and rocky coastline where the American Army Rangers scaled the cliff walls to engage the Germans to destroy their biggest guns. Of the 250 brave young men who landed there, only 90 survived to fight the next day. At Omaha Beach, we collected some sand from the battlefield where so many GIs sacrificed their lives for liberty and freedom from tyranny. We ended the day at the American cemetery just above the beach, where we visited the graves of nearly 10,000 of the more than 22,000 American servicemen who were killed during the campaign, and toured the museum dedicated to their valor and courage.

Wall Mural in Arromanches

Wall mural in Arromanches

The AMALegro will set sail tonight for Rouen, the first leg of our return voyage to Paris.

Until tomorrow,

Tiffany and Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

Cheers!

Day 2 – French Wine Cruise

King Luis XIV with the Queen

King Luis XIV with the Queen

Bonjour mes amis!

Apple Cider Francaise

Apple Cider Francaise

Chateau Bizy Royal Carriage

Chateau Bizy Royal Carriage

Our visit to Chateau Bizy yesterday gave us a royal taste of French nobility, as well as a taste of one of Normandy’s most celebrated products, la frommage! This historic chateau, designed as a miniature Versailles, has been the home to generations of the Suchet family, descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte, who still live in one of its wings. We enjoyed several workshops within the estate, including one on apple cider, which is an alcoholic beverage in France, and another on the four world-famous cheeses indigenous to Normandy; Neufchatel, Pont L’Eveque, Livarot, and Camembert. The cheese is prepared unpasteurized, as is customary within the province, and tasted fabulously unprocessed! We even had an unexpected visit from the flamboyant King Luis XIV, or was it just his ghost?

Hotel de Ville, Caudebec-En-Caux

Hotel de Ville, Caudebec-En-Caux

Our new friends, Christine & Larry

Our new friends, Christie & Larry

Upon return to the ship, we dined first class once again and spent the evening in the lounge dancing to the music of “Paolo”. By now, we have come to two realizations about river cruising – first, the intimacy, care, and level of hospitality and dining has ocean cruising beat 10 to 1. This is in part due to the exceptional friendliness and professionalism of the AMA Waterways staff. Secondly, with their smaller capacity relative to an ocean cruiser, fewer people combine with the hospitality to create a very familiar atmosphere for us – it feels like we are on a floating WineStyles! We already feel part of a closely-knit group of “club members”…

Napa Merlot vs Bordeaux Merlot

Napa Merlot and Bordeaux Merlot

On Saturday morning Barry Wiss conducted a fascinating presentation comparing the regions of Napa Valley, CA with Bordeaux, France. It is astonishing that wine has been produced for only 150 years in Napa, and, despite many major setbacks during that time, including the Earthquake of 1908, two world wars, the Great Depression, Prohibition, and numerous severe droughts, Napa’s wines consistently rank among the best in the world. With 17 different AVAs within a relatively small valley, Napa is able to grow an impressive assortment of grapes, producing varietals of exceptional quality, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. The uniquely “Mediterranean” climate, affording a longer growing season with warm days and cool nights, combined with the fact that 50% of the world’s known soil types are found in the valley, result in a winemaker’s paradise.

Norte Dame in Caudebec-En-Caux

Norte Dame in Caudebec-En-Caux

Bordeaux, by contrast, is eight times the size of Napa, and has produced wine for thousands of years, since the Roman Empire. Tried and true, its wines are of similar excellent quality, generally with less fruit forward and more mineral characteristics. We were able to sample this first hand, tasting a Merlot from both regions. Though the soil is not as diverse as Napa, Bordeaux produces a variety of wines also, including Medoc, Sauterne, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Caudebec-En-Caux

Caudebec-En-Caux

Speaking of wine, AMA has treated us to a different French red and white each evening at dinner. Today we have arrived at Caudebec-En-Caux and will take a bus to the charming seaside village of Honfleur.

Be sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC

Entrecote a la Bordelaise Bordeaux Pairing Recipe

Entrecote Bordelaise is a classic French meat dish that marries well with a good bottle of Marquis de Lalande, Bordeaux Rouge.  Serve with sautéd potatoes or fries and green beans.

french-steakINGREDIENTS:
• 2  New York Sirloin cut steaks
• 7  tablespoons of butter
•  2 shallots, finely chopped
• 1/2 cup of red wine
• 1 cup of beef stock
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• salt / black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the pan to smoking point and add half the butter. Place the steak in the pan and brown it on both sides – give it about two to three minutes on each side to sear it first, and then let the meat cook through to your taste. Prepare both steaks in this way and then set them aside.

In the same pan, (drain excess butter if needed), cook the shallots. Put them in the pan and stir from time to time until they are soft and starting to turn golden.   When the shallots are done, add the red wine to the pan and give it a good stir to deglaze the pan.

Now, add the beef stock to the pan and stir until everything is blended. Let it to simmer for 5 minutes or until reduced.  Cut the remaining butter into small pieces and add them to the sauce one at a time, mixing so that they melt into the mixture: this will give the sauce a rich flavor and give it an appetizing glossy finish.

Cut the meat across the grain into thick slices and arrange them on a plate.  Add some chopped parsley to the sauce, and then pour little of the sauce over each steak.  Serve the rest of the sauce in a gravy boat.   Serve with sautéd potatoes, fries and some green beans. Recipe courtesy of Food.com

Marquis-de-Lalande-Bordeaux-RougeMarquis de Lalande
Bordeaux
Bordeaux, France

Armand Lalande, great economist, member of the Medoc and Consulate of Austria-Hungary, founded the house wine trade “A.LALANDE & CIE” in 1840.  As one of the jewels of Bordeaux located in the historic district Chartrons, House A. Lalande & Co. specializes in the breeding and trading of Bordeaux wines worldwide. This Bordeaux rouge is made from select Merlot grapes; a blend of young wines providing fruit and richness, and older wines accounting for depth, complexity, and a beautiful structure. After bottling, the blend is cellared for several months in order to achieve a fine balance.  Beautiful, brilliant, rich, cherry-red color, that already displays slight bricking on the rim. Starts out full-bodied and rich on the palate, going on to reveal an elegant tannic structure and spicy red fruit flavors.

DougFrost“This vintage in Bordeaux is a newbie and the best examples show black cherry fruits allied with minty, savory notes; combining fruit and herbs to create classic Bordeaux complexity.” – Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

Appellation: Bordeaux Controlee, France
Varietal Blend:  100% Merlot
Analysis: 12.5% alc/vol

Mussels in Cream with French Fries

WC_Dec_2014_Marquis_Blanc

mussels-creamMUSSEL INGREDIENTS:

•  8 – 9  lbs of mussels
•  2 cups of dry white wine
•  2 large tomatoes
•  1 cup (10 – 12) shallots
•  1 bouquet garni(thyme parsley laurel)
•  1 large head of garlic (approx. 10 cloves)
•  4 tablespoons of chopped parsley
•  6 tablespoons of salted butter
•  4 tablespoons of cornstarch
•  1  and 3/4 cup of heavy cream

MUSSEL DIRECTIONS:

Rinse the mussels under water, and discard any broken or open mussels. Cut the tomato into slices, coarsely chop the shallots.   Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the mussels, white wine, shallots, tomatoes, thyme, 1/3 of the of the parsley and bouquet garni. Heat on high and stir regularly until all the mussels are open. Remove the mussels, leaving a maximum amount of juice in the pan and reduce by half. Strain the mussel juices through a colander lined with paper towels (the goal is to remove the sand).  Collect the juice and save for the sauce.

Chop the garlic and remaining parsley. Melt the butter in a separate saucepan and add the garlic and parsley. Cook for 3 minutes, add the cornstarch, mix well and cook again on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the fresh cream and the juice of the mussels, stir regularly over low heat until cream thickens.Return the mussels to the pan, pour the sauce over and reheat on medium for 5 minutes.

FRENCH FRIES INGREDIENTS:

•  2 lbs of russet potatoes
• Oil for frying (traditionally white Belgian fryers use beef, sometimes with the addition of pork fat or mutton, which gives this particular taste for frying fries, however, oil will make the chips lighter and more digestible)

FRENCH FRY DIRECTIONS:

Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut into strips. Wash again and dry them in a clean dish towel.    Cook for the first time in oil heated to 300° F for 7-8 minutes. Do not overload the fryer,  cook 1/3 of fries at a time.   Cool fries, time to take a drink or prepare the rest of the meal.

Cook the fries a second time in oil heated to 375° F  for about 3 minutes (they should be crisp but not hard).   Serve fries immediately, along with a salt shaker. Not recommended to salt in advance, because fries then soften and some people prefer unsalted fries.    8 – 10 servings.   Recipe courtesy of Marquis Lalande

Marquis-de-Lalande-blanc-2013Marquis de Lalande
Bordeaux Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Armand Lalande, great economist, member of the Medoc and Consulate of Austria-Hungary, founded the house wine trade “A.LALANDE & CIE” in 1840.  As one of the jewels of Bordeaux located in the historic district Chartrons, House A. Lalande & Co. specializes in the breeding and trading of Bordeaux wines worldwide.   Marquis de Lalande has a beautiful pale yellow color with green tints.  This wine has a fine and delicate nose with good minerality.  On the palate, it is intense and harmonious.   Best served at 48°F as a lovely aperitif or a perfect pairing with grilled fish or shellfish.DougFrost

“While the last several vintages of red Bordeaux might be slightly off the regions top form, not so the white wines.  These pear and lemon tinged wines are fun, tangy and delightful with a myriad of seafood and shellfish dishes.” – Doug Frost, Master of Wine, Master Sommelier

Winemaker: Eric Marin
Appellation: Bordeaux Controllee, France
Varietal Blend:  100% Sauvignon Blanc
Analysis: 12% alc/vol
Critical Acclaim: Reviewed and approved by Doug Frost, Master Sommelier and Master of Wine

Stuffed Tomatoes Pairing Recipe

INGREDIENTS:
• 4 ripe beefsteak tomatoes (or zucchini, red peppers, potatoes)
•  1 pound ground beef
•  1/2 cup bread crumbs
•  1 yellow onion
•  1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
•  1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
•  1/4 cup olive oil
•  1/3 cup Gruyere
•  Sea salt
•  Pepper

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 400° F.  Cut the tops off of each tomato and reserve the top. It will become a little hat, or as the French say, le chapeau.  Using a spoon, remove the seeds and scoop out the innards being careful not to pierce through the tomato flesh. Sprinkle tomatoes with sea salt and turn them upside down so that the excess water drains out.
With the exception of the olive oil, mix together all the other ingredients by hand until combined.  Place the stuffing in each tomato, sprinkle with Gruyere, and cover with the cut tomato top. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on top, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.   Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, then allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a side dish of rice or mushroom risotto.  Recipe compliments of Château Rouchereau.

Rocher-LideyreChateau Lideyre
Cotes de Castillon
Bordeaux, France

Merlot is the main grape variety in the hillside vineyards located next to the Saint-Emilion appellation. This is blended with the other great Bordeaux grape variety, Cabernet Franc.  Philippe Bardet comes from a long line of wine growers and has been applying an environmentally-friendly approach with just the right technological balance in his vineyards for over fifteen years.  Bardet is always among the last to pick his grapes, which are entirely hand-sorted. Automated temperature fermentation control systems make it possible to keep the wines on the skins for a long time while maintaining perfect control of extraction.  Depending on the wine’s age, it goes perfectly well with grilled meats, duck and lamb chops, as well as roast chicken and medium-strong cheeses.

winemaker-eric-marin“Intense garnet-red color with crimson highlights and a full-bodied, subtle bouquet featuring berry fruit, very ripe black currants and violets.  The  after taste follows through with aromas of toast and spice.” – Eric Marin, winemaker

Winemaker: Eric Marin
Appellation: Cotes de Castillon Controlee, France
Varietal Blend:  87% Merlot, 13% Cabernet Franc
Analysis: 13.6% alc/vol
Aging: 75% American Oak, 25% French Oak, aged 14 month

French Wine Cruise – Paris to Vernon

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Bonjour to our WineStyles family!

After a fabulous day and a half of eating, drinking, and sightseeing our way through the romantic city of Paris, we were warmly welcomed aboard the river cruise ship AMALegro.

The Louvre at Night

The Louvre at Night

We checked in to our beautifully appointed stateroom, and, after meeting Captain Franck and his crew, dined with new friends, enjoying a 6-course welcome dinner including a salmon and crayfish appetizer, Normandy mussel soup, grilled fillet of butterfish and prawn with Pernod sauce and saffron risotto, and, of course, a glass or two of Beaujolais!

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

After dinner, the ship set sail on the Seine, pausing at the Eiffel Tower for us to watch a delightful light show, as thousands of bulbs affixed to the tower lit up the nighttime sky over Paris in synchronized splendor.

Seine River at Night

Seine River at Night

Despite a chill in the upper deck air, our hosts kept us warm with “vin chaud” (hot wine), roasted chestnuts, and their gracious hospitality.

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

We ended the evening with a glass of Prosecco at the piano lounge, where we got to know the most important person on the ship besides the captain, our Bulgarian bartender Plamen!

On Friday morning we found ourselves well into Normandy Provence, marveling at the precision with which our floating hotel was navigated through the narrow locks system on the Seine.

La Roche Guyon - Romme's HQ

La Roche Guyon – Romme’s HQ

On river right, before arriving at Vernon, we viewed La Roche Guyot, complete with castle ruins and the stately residence which at one time served as the German General Rommel’s headquarters during the Nazi occupation of France.

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

After a briefing from our Cruise Director John on the many exciting excursions planned for our journey on the Seine, we were treated to our first educational wine presentation from Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California.

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

His opening topic addressed the important role aroma plays in the enjoyment of wine, and how to most effectively sniff and swirl in order to identify primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas.

We got to practice on two very nice Napa selections, Gott un-oaked Chardonnay and Sea Glass Pinot Noir.

Riverbank Chateau

Riverbank Chateau

Presently, we are off to visit Chateau Bizy in the riverfront village of Vernon, our first port of call.

Griffin at St. Michael's SquareBe sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC