POP! FIZZ! CLINK! Honeymooning dreams have come true. After seven months of anticipation, our trip to Paris, Bordeaux, and the Champagne region finally came to be! The main focus of the trip (besides celebrating love & marriage, of course!) was wine region exploration, and so we declared our Honeymoon a “Vino-moon.” (Oh the cleverness of us.)
Yes, we basically selected a wine “research” trip for a Honeymoon. Quite possibly the most romantic “research” a duo of wine geeks could embark on, I might add. Also…I’m in the wine business…so can I write this off? (Joking, joking.)
We had decided to postpone immediate international Honeymooning after our wedding last July since the planning and the day itself took up so much energy and brain space. (Bride brain is a real thing, people.) We wanted to save the trip for a time when we could really focus our energy on planning, brushing up on some buried-deep-in-the-far-back-corner-of-my-brain High School French, and, of course, to have something to look forward to!
I’ve read studies about anticipating a trip being almost as exciting as going…(not quite…but almost!) And it was massively true. We had a brilliant time outlining what we wanted to do, where we wanted to go, soaking up information from our guide books and asking friends for recommendations. My husband tackled restaurants and lodging, while I tackled sweet-talking our way into wine tastings that were near impossible to get into.
I began cramming my Pimsleur’s French Lessons twice daily (only to realize after 25 sessions I could basically only invite myself over to a stranger’s apartment for beer, say I had 4 large children that lived in America, and ask for 20 liters of gas. All very un-useful phrases in this particular case.) Nonetheless, I looked forward to my daily study sessions. I started collecting useful travel items and making mental packing lists. We listened to Madeline Peyroux and Edith Piaf on Pandora nightly while doing our research. It was thrilling…and we hadn’t even set foot out of the apartment!
But planning a trip to Champagne is incomplete without…CHAMPAGNE!
- In preparation, we did a plethora of bubbly research, even taking an online course together on the region and terroir. We popped a bottle from one of our favorite producers, Pierre Gimmonet, while devouring our online course. There’s no better way to learn than with a delicious, delicate, slightly yeasty, low-dosage bubbly, right? Score: 100%! (Side note: Pierre Gimmonet has been a mainstay of our relationship: I was proposed to over a bottle of 2008 Special Club Brut, and even used the cork, crown, and cage to make our wedding cake topper. Photo evidence below.)
- We then broke open a delicate, fresh, and lively Brut Nature by Tarlant and poured over a book entitled “But First, Champagne” which is basically an encyclopedia of notable and exciting Champagne houses. After reading about the different producers and styles, we were able to narrow down our requests for tastings. Being from Sonoma, we tend to seek out smaller producer/growers (i.e. Tarlant) as opposed to larger corporations (Möet & Chandon). Don’t worry, if you offer me a glass, I won’t refuse anything with bubbles. (Unless it’s Demi-Sec or one of those new “Champagnes to be enjoyed over ice” with around 45 grams of sugar per litre…as opposed to 0-3 grams for a Brut Nature.)
- Lastly we decided to do a little extra-credit research and embarked on a bubbly field trip to bug a Champagne aficionado who runs wonderful Champagne Bar in SOMA. We zipped over on my husband’s Birthday to see what smaller houses Bill would recommend trying to weasel our way into. The standout was an Extra-Brut Emmanuel Brochet (which we both about died on the floor tasting): creamy and rich with flavors of brioche and french toast-yet totally dry. And honestly like nothing my taste buds have ever had the pleasure of tasting. We died again when Bill handed us a slice of some sort of melt-in-your-mouth-not-made-on-this-planet cheese. Like my father always says: if the food makes the wine better, and the wine makes the food better…it’s a perfect pair! (Much like a good marriage?)
And so the planning, bubbly prep, and the seven months of build-up was really quite a thrill. I really do adore stretching out a good celebration. We still got to don our “newly-wed” status, almost a year after the wedding! (I knew I’d enjoy dropping the “H” bomb everywhere we went. Or “Nous sommes en voyage de noces!” en Français. The squeal of delight from formerly sullen waiters and crabby taxi drivers alike was a pleasurable reminder that yes, there was something special to be celebrated.) It was long wait for a Honeymoon with my new life partner in wine (I mean, crime), but all the better for it: the prolonged excitement leading up to departure was indeed almost the best part. Vacations themselves are wonderful. But the acknowledgement of the treasure to be found in anticipation is really the hidden gem of travel.
PS. Just in case you need some of these useful French phrases in the imminent future…here they are: “Bonjour Monsieur. Voudrais-voux une bière? Chez moi? Ou chez vous? J’ai aussi quatre grandes enfants. Donne moi aussi de l’essence. S’il vous plaît.”
PPS. Featured image: our love lock on the Pont des Arts Bridge. Below: dropping the key in the Seine!