Last Wednesday, September 30th, I was invited to dinner to meet Isabelle Forêt who wrote the groundbreaking “Elles & Bacchus” (“Women and Bacchus”), the first French guide dedicated entirely to women and wine. She is currently the spokesperson for Wines of France, and her updated findings in regards to her life long study of women and wine can be found on her website.
I did not know what to expect from my dinner with Isabelle. When I read the information sent to me about her philosophy on wine, which discussed wine being an aphrodisiac for women, a part of me thought it was just a marketing tool.
But if there is one thing in life I have learned, it is to never judge a book by its cover, and so I opened myself up to meeting her.
A translator showed up for Isabelle since our whole conversation would need to be translated from French into English and vice versa. We were a total of six women that night – all of us originally coming from other parts of the US, or the world, to be in the “mecca” of wine: New York City.
Isabelle Forêt started the night by telling us her story, how she was introduced to wine, and why she specifically geared it towards women. She empowered herself by learning everything she could about wine. She believed in her own voice and she has helped many other French women find their voice in the wine world.
What was only supposed to be a 90 minute work dinner at Artisanal Fromagerie Bistro, in the middle of Manhattan, turned into a five hour parade of meats, cheeses and wines, with laughs and tears helping to describe the lives that all of us have lived.
There came a time in the night when someone asked her about her theory of wine being an aphrodisiac for women. She gave a warm smile and said her theory started when a woman wrote to her via her website. The woman said that every time she drank Muscat wine she would be in the mood for sex. And through time, many other women wanted to talk about this subject on her blog and Isabelle eventually came to the conclusion that wine, especially certain wines, was an aphrodisiac for women.
And even though Isabelle spoke briefly about the science behind her theory, which many find questionable, I personally felt that her greatest gift was helping to bring women together to support each other in their discoveries of trying to enjoy their lives to the fullest, which was evident by that night.
Sometimes, as women, we feel the need to be there for everyone, sacrificing ourselves and ultimately not being able to live passionately in the moment.
Isabelle reminded us that it was important to take the time to taste wine and food while truly connecting with those around us. Whether it is lovers or friends, wine can be a stimulus that can turn an ordinary evening into a night that will always be remembered.
Everyday Drinking Wine (less than $15)
Mionetto II Moscato, Veneto, Italy ($11): This is an off-dry, semi-sparkling Moscato that has lots of aromatics of grape flavors and white flowers. This is a simple Muscat wine but lots of fun with a beer bottle cap as the closure.
Special Occasion Wine (from $15 to $50)
2014 Vignoble Alain Ignace Muscat de Beaumes de Venise Rhône, France ($17 for half bottle): biodynamic, sweet, fortified wine (15% abv) is produced by a husband and wife team, Nelly and Alain Ignace. It has a lush body with lots of ripe peach fruit and citrus zest.
Fantasy Wine (over $50)
NV Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Champagne, France ($86): Isabelle said that rosé and champagne wines were also on the top of the list when it came to the wines that helped to encourage women to be in a good mood. One of my favorite non-vintage rosé champagnes is Billecart-Salmon. It has a stunning pale salmon color with a burst of fraises des bois (tiny wild French strawberries) on the first taste, intense while remaining elegant throughout the long finish.