So I’ve been enjoying wine for a number of years now. In fact, I was first introduced to the world of wine while living in Orlando back in the 90’s.  Friends and I would attend jazz concerts namely at Cranes Roost Park, Winter Park Arts Festivals, and Black Fin in Winter Park Village. I noticed that wherever there was jazz, there was wine.  Everyone there seemed to be having a good time as they enjoyed wine and champagne in elegant stemware, and so of course I joined in!

But it wasn’t until one summer when I traveled throughout France for a month and was able to spend time in wine boutiques, vineyards, wine caves or cellars, and dégustations (tastings) that I really got deep into the academic side of wine.


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What had happened was….I was at Lafayette Gourmet (food hall located at Galeries Lafayette, Paris) one afternoon and decided to stop by the Bibliothéque des Vins, which is a wine gallery on that same floor. While browsing, I noticed a bottle of wine for 25,000 euros- at that time about 47,000 USD! Then on another shelf was a bottle for 55,000 euros. I said to myself “OMG!!!”, while gasping out loud. My mouth and eyes opened wide in astonishment because never had I seen figures that high except for cars and real estate! I had no idea wines could get that serious. I tried taking a picture of those bottles so I could show to family & friends because I knew they would be as amazed as I was. But the photo-op was interrupted by the doormen who said, “Madame, s’il vous plaît, no photo” (Madame, please, no photos allowed). Doormen at a wine shop? That right there should’ve been a clue that this was no ordinary place!


When I got back to the appartement, I Googled this wine and learned a little bit about the maker and winery (in case you’re wondering, the wines were Bordeaux, 40+ years vintage and produced by none other than Mouton Rothschild, of course. I began to see wine in a different light. I realized that it’s not just something to consume. It is a total experience- from the land in which the grapes are grown & cultivated, the family stories (Mondavi is a great story by the way), tradition, the terroir, religion (I know! Who would’ve thought it?) and best of all, the sharing among family & friends.

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Since that trip to France, I have gone on to pursue formal training and obtained a certificate as a French Wine Scholar. Nowadays, I enjoy visiting different bars à vin (wine bars), meeting with the proprietors and sommeliers, and attending tasting events, mainly in Atlanta, Miami and my beloved Paris, where I spend most of my time throughout the year. I also love to travel and try to incorporate wine tastings & education wherever I go. I hope to inspire others to explore the world of wine and invite you to join The Cellars Club and discover great wines and great places.

ON Y VAS! (Let’s go)!



FWS- French Wine Scholar




  1. Joe Kheriaty
    Jul 11, 2013 @ 12:05:24

    Salut Joelle,

    It was so nice meeting you at Le Coupe Chou a couple weeks ago. I hope you’re enjoying the rest of your trip in Paris. BTW, your dog is super cute!! As promised, here is a recipe I got for chocolate mousse from the book “The Food of France” Murdoch books.

    2 cups dark chocolate, chopped
    2 tablespoons unsatled butter
    2 eggs lightly beaten
    2 tablespoons Cognac
    4 egg whites
    5 tablespoons superfine sugar
    2 cups whipping cream

    Serves 8.

    Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the botom of the bowl isn’t touching the water. Allow the chocolate to become soft and then stir until melted. Add the butter and stir until melted. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and cool for a few minutes. Add the eggs and Cognac and stir.

    Using an electric mixer or wire whisk, beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form, adding the sugar gradually. Whisk one third of the egg white into the chocolate mixture to loosen it and then fold in the remainder with a large metal spoon or spatula.

    Whip the cream and fold into the mousse. Pour into glasses or a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

    Some personal notes. First, use an electric mixer, otherwise it takes forever. Second, make sure the eggs are whipped to the point where the soft peaks don’t move or flatten out. Third, prepare at least one day in advance to serving. I’ve noticed that it definitely tastes better the second or even the third day. Bon appetit!

    Hope you’re well.



    • Joelle Gracia
      Jul 11, 2013 @ 14:07:27

      Merci, Joe! I look forward to giving this a try.



  2. Carmelle killick
    Mar 15, 2014 @ 11:35:53

    Hey Joelle call me


  3. Cindy Deaton
    Jun 02, 2014 @ 15:50:18

    Hey, Joelle. I’m not sure if you’re already in Paris. I’m in a mess! For months, Ashley has talked about being at the Eiffel Tower on her birthday! I just went online to purchase tickets. There are NO MORE advance tickets for that day! She is going to be so disappointed! I wanted to ask if you would be willing to go purchase us 2 tickets for June 17th? Our train doesn’t get into Paris until around 5:00 PM. So, we would need evening tickets. Can you see if you can get us 2 tickets? I can send you the money! Let me know.


    • Joelle Gracia
      Jun 10, 2014 @ 15:27:19

      Hi Cindy,

      I am so glad that the concierge at your hotel was able to help you get those tickets. Enjoy!


  4. Dan Maxfield
    Jun 22, 2015 @ 13:40:38

    A year goes by between comments, and now you’re back in France!

    Have a great trip!


    • Joelle Gracia
      Jun 22, 2015 @ 15:18:27

      Thanks Dan! I can’t wait to share new experiences with everyone while also revisiting some of the old favorites!


  5. Debby Woods
    Jul 05, 2017 @ 13:38:09

    Great article, especially that you are a French Wine Scholar. Next AF Board Meeting I will have to tell you about the rose wine in Nice, France.


  6. Joelle Gracia
    Jul 10, 2017 @ 10:32:11

    Debby, I can’t wait to hear about it!


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