Oui, Oui, it’s the New Year! For some, the holidays are over but if you’re French, you know , it’s long from over!

There are L’Épiphanie, 6 janvier, celebrated in France by eating a Galette or a Gâteau des Rois. The Galette is puff pastry encasing crème d’amande.

photo via eatlivtravwrite


La Chandeleur , 2 février — I guess I will reserve explanation for a future post!

and so much more that I can’t  even list just because I might gain ten more pounds!


I will stop wining— I mean whining and introduce you to Wanda Mann who I had the  pleasure of interviewing for the latest edition of Franglais Stories.Wanda is a certified wine specialist and founder of The Black Dress Traveler.. You might need a glass or two— to enjoy this piece 😉

[pictured above: Wanda Mann]

OOJSF: What’s your educational background?

For high school, I attended boarding school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. I’m a graduate of Pomona College in Claremont, California where I majored in Anthropology. I spent my junior year of high school abroad studying in Barcelona, Spain and I also studied for a year in Toledo, Spain when I was a junior in college. My wine education is ongoing, but in 2015 I earned the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) credential from the Society of Wine Educators.

OOJSF: What’s your cultural background?

African-American. Both of my parents are from the southern United States and our family has been here(US) for many generations.

OOJSF: Where did you grow up?

Born and raised in New York City.

OOJSF: Where do you call home?

I live in Manhattan, in the vibrant and diverse neighborhood of East Harlem.

OOJSF: How did the idea of The Black Dress Traveler come about ?

I’ve always loved writing and travel. A blog seemed like the ideal medium to chronicle  my passions and share what I discover with others. I am also an unrepentant “dress-aholic” and I chose to name my blog The Black Dress Traveler because no matter where I travel, I always pack a little black dress (or two!) so that I’m always ready for an elegant adventure!

OOJSF: How did you become interested in the food/beverage industry?

My father was a classically trained chef. Because of him I was exposed to fine food & wine throughout my life. My father showed me that food is art and a way of communicating. Growing up with my family’s traditional amazing Southern cuisine AND my father’s classic French cooking gave me the best of both worlds – I call it the foie gras and grits childhood!


OOJSF: What is a typical day like for you?

In the morning, I usually edit wine articles that I am working on. Several afternoons a week, I attend wine seminars and meet with winemakers for tastings and to interview them. On the evenings that I don’t attend wine events, I write and taste samples.

OOJSF: What did you do before launching The Black Dress Traveler?

My background is in event planning. I’ve produced red-carpet events featuring celebrity guests and large conferences for many well known organizations.

OOJSF: What’s the beginner’s guide to wines?

The best way to begin is to start tasting wine. Step out of  your comfort zone and try new wines from different parts of the world – don’t be intimidated. Seek out information from magazines and books. Google Jancis Robinson (Master of Wine and widely considered the world’s most influential wine critic ) and Kevin Zraly (renowned wine educator)  – their books are great references and can help newbies start to build a strong foundation.

OOJSF: Could you give tips on dining/wining for the holidays?

When entertaining at home, you want the wines to match the mood and the menu. Greet your guests with sparkling wines – bubbles always make people smile. As the menu moves towards more complex dishes, select wines that can match that intensity.

OOJSF: Favorite French wines/champagnes?

Of course, I love Champagne – it is more than just sparkling wine but a true cultural icon that communicates elegance and joy. (And always remember, Champagne can only come from Champagne, France!)I also love sparkling wines from other regions of France such as Crémant d’Alsace and Cremant du Bourgogne – they offer tremendous quality at a fraction of the price of Champagne. Chablis, from the northern part of the Burgundy region, is one of my favorite still white wines – it is a very pristine, elegant, and expression of Chardonnay. I’m also a big fan of Vouvray – a white wine from the Loire Valley made from the Chenin Blanc grape. My favorite French red wines include Bordeaux blends and wines from regions in the south such as the Rhône and Roussillon. When offered a glass of fine Burgundy (Pinot Noir), I won’t turn it away! I also can’t resist a crisp rosé from Provence! France also produces some of the world’s finest sweet wines – Sauternes is magical, like drinking sunshine and gold.


OOJSF: What are the basic wine/champagne etiquettes?

Always hold the glass by the stem, point the cork away from people when opening a bottle of sparkling wine, and don’t be a wine snob – no one likes to drink with wine snobs!

OOJSF: Silly question but do you ever get tired of drinking wine?

Does one tire of a fine painting or a beautiful piece of music ? No, I never ever get tired of drinking wine. Each wine takes me on a journey and has a story to tell.

OOJSF: Favorite French word/phrase?

Except for food & wine vocabulary, I don’t speak much French, but I absolutely love to say ,“oh là là !” I’m also a fan of “trés chic!”

OOJSF: Favorite French region/Francophone country?

Paris is timeless and breathtaking. I also love the rugged yet elegant beauty of Provence – the landscapes and flavors are so vibrant.

OOJSF: What should we expect from The Black Dress Traveler in the future?

More wine, more travels, and more adventures!

OOJSF: What’s your advise on traveling?

Do it. Don’t make excuses. Make travel a priority in your life. And don’t be afraid to travel alone. Don’t over plan each day. Leave room for spontaneity. Linger over a glass of wine and people watch.

OOJSF: What is life like as an entrepreneur?

Superb and stressful! The freedom and autonomy are fabulous but the work never ends. Thank goodness, I love my work!

OOJSF: As an entrepreneur, how do you stay motivated?

I can get bored very easily so I am always seeking out new challenges and ways to further my knowledge. It is good for my soul and my business.

OOJSF: What would you recommend for someone to do or see based on where you call home?

New York City is a great city for walking around – the city itself is an endless feast, fashion runway, concert, museum, drama, and comedy show! Eat, drink, discover, and remember that NYC is more than just Manhattan – each of the 5 boroughs has something special!

For more information on how to pair your wine with that fromage, visit The Black Dress Traveler

Vivre* Etre* Parler FRANGLAIS