A day of magic and mystery. A day of prancing and poetry. A day of... wine. Every year, what seems in lieu of Thanksgiving, there is a wonderful decadent exposition of French wines on display at Porte de Versailles. "Salon des vins des Vignerons"is like Santa Clause's Christmas playland except nothing to do with Christmas or decorations or tinsel. After tasting an infinite variety of magical elixir, however, it pretty much looks the same. Vendors from vineyards all over France come to show off their wares and sell by bottle or bulk. One of my American friends has gone to this event for the past couple of years, always reporting back with tales of joy. The first year I didn't even know it existed. The second, I was previously engaged with Brother and Sister-in-Law and 4-year-old nephew who, rather unfortunately, would not have made such an event very practical.
This year, I was determined to go, and so what better excuse for Hot Blonde Cousin to come to Paris and join me. After our Thanksgiving feast the night before, I can't say I woke up feeling overly spry and springy, but we made way down to the exposition center and filled up on French food before entering paradise. There was definitely extra security all around, an obvious product of recent terrorism. I can't say it was looked upon with disdain either. I would much prefer a day of wine without the added fear of premeditated danger. Instead, I was immediately overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the event. Stalls of wine laid out for what appeared to be miles and I frankly had zero idea where to even begin. An older French gentleman offered to sell us his used information book, though it wasn't overly helpful since I wasn't familiar with most of the wines or vineyards. I think my poor cousin expected me to frolic up to the first vendor I saw and speak in rapid French. What actually happened was more akin to a very pretty American deer stuck in a wine-induced whirl of magical headlights.
It's not that I am so afraid to test out my French speaking skills, but I am all too familiar with French mannerisms and was truly searching for someone who looked openly friendly to begin our research. After a few false starts, though, we finally started to get the lay of the land. And since many vendors were generous with their tastings, it wasn't long at all before "J'étais pompette!" and I was happy as a clam to chat with various vineyard folk. About halfway through our venture, we happened upon a young Frenchman who had us taste pretty much all of his stock, culminating in taking a picture of us from behind his counter, as if we were the vineyard proprietors... (Hmmm now there's a thought!) I think this was just before we finally decided to break down and purchase the little neck ropes that would hold our glasses of wine casually dangling in front of us so that we could browse freely.
Circa five or six hours later, the Hot Blonde Cousins of American Heritage were quite well intoxicated with French Culture and Libations. We had had a pretzel somewhere in the middle of the day, though my mouth was quite adamantly opposed to the concept of salty dry breadlike products at the time. Before leaving the salon, we made sure to purchase the bottles we had decided upon by that point. I had 5 in all, 3 from the cute young Frenchman we had met mid-day.
Now apparently I was quite some tipsier than originally suspected because I somehow managed to type my pin number wrong 3 times when trying to pay for my wine. My card was blocked, but I managed to pay for all of my bottles anyway. Cousin and I finally left the center, though thankfully at the door I realized that I had walked away without the backpack filled with wine. We went back to fetch the bag, but not until I got home did I realize that I had still somehow managed to leave two of the bottles behind! Thankfully, cute Frenchman had given me his business card, so I texted asking if he could hold them, and my American friend graciously picked them up for me when she visited the salon the next day. One might suggest that the universe was attempting to pull me away from my Dionysian desserts. I, however, like to think it was just testing me to make sure I am worthy.
After such a long day of dancing in drink, there was really only one thing Cousin and I could do... Eat Frogs' Legs...