February 2, 2017

The wine trail summer 2016...

The Hard Work of a Wine Trip Ends at Willi's Wine bar  


  When the odyssey ends, the 5 days of vineyard visits, the 3000 kilometers in the car, the hotels/motels, meals and awesome conversations terminate how?

  Well my trip headed towards Charles de Gaulle airport, so a night in Paris was the present to us. So off to Paris we casually drove with a reservation at an old standby: Willi’s Wine Bar.

  We checked into the hotel near Le Jardin de Luxembourg with a bottle of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs chilled and waiting. This was a little treat as a reward for the 3000 + kilometers of driving recently accomplished and to the travel companions who became to realize a ‘wine trip’ is not all fun and games. The work surrounding such a long journey is significant.

 A wine trip is about pleasure, yes , but is first and always work. When embarking upon such a long and arduous itinerary. Whether travelling alone or in a small group, you must take into consideration the logistics around multiple winery visits.


You will be tasting. Regardless of how much you spit the tasted wines, you will have an accumulation of alcohol, which will impact your ability to drive. Do not risk driving while impaired. Towards that end:


Hydrate! Start your day with a reasonable breakfast and hydrate throughout the day.


Rent a car that multiple people on the trip can drive. When visiting Europe many of the rentals available are manual transmission, if everyone in your group cannot drive a stick shift, ask for an automatic transmission.


Break for meals. It does not have to be a white table cloth nor fancy. Simply a stop, relax and organize your notes from the morning tastings.


Wineries will often look to take you to lunch and show you an array of wines and how they pair with local cuisine. These are great opportunities and should be taken advantage of! However, it would be prudent to arrange to have the afternoon or minimally the next several hours where driving is not involved, you will appreciate the meal more and enjoy the conversation.


And so, having arrived at our final stop on the summer trip. we finished the Champagne, stretched our legs and took the metro to St. Germain and walked down the Ruse de Seine and crossed at Le Pont des Arts, walked through the Louvre courtyard and headed toward the iconic wine geek destination restaurant Willi’s Wine Bar.


It was a Sunday, so Paris was relatively quiet, but Willi’s was bustling. An old friend Mark Williamson greeted us with a bit more champagne and off we to the daunting task of combing through the wine list.


My travel buddies and I opted to each try different dishes with the intent of sharing, so that we could explore more of the menu, that did not work out as planned. We all were so into our own choices that the food slowly disappeared before sharing could be offered. Sometimes it happens that way. Chacun a son gout!


These trips are fun but exhausting, be prudent. We have an action packed 2017 in store for you. We are launching regional Best Sommelier in America Competitions in 5 regions: Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Midwest and West. Each regional will begin with an online theory exam where 15 – 20 semi finalists will be invited to a city within the region to compete in the practical exam and blind tasting exam, vying for the Final Exam that same afternoon. Each region will have a champion, but the top 4 in each region will be invited to compete in the 2018 Best Sommelier in America. Stay tuned here at and for updates a



©American Sommelier 2016 by Andrew F. Bell


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