February 6, 2018 from 6 p.m to 9:00 p.m, I attended La Soiree Champagne, an exclusive champagne tasting sponsored by the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, in its third year! This exquisite cocktail gala was held in the private residence of the Ambassador of France, Gerard Araud, in his presence.
At this party, I had the delightful opportunity to try the best champagne from France’s best, and also mingle with socialites, VIPS, high-ranking diplomats, and DC event gurus ( Mers Woldemariam from Mers Events, and Greg Bland from ThingstodoDC.com, etc…).
Before I came to the gala, I changed inside the dressing room of a TV station. This fitting room has the brightest lights, longest vanity mirrors, and the best outlet to hookup my 2016, pink, cone shaped curler. So I tried to curl my hair but failed miserably. I may have been using a bit too much Moroccan argon cream in my hair and that could be the reason why I have been failing the hair curl game. Due to the extra lighting in the fitting room, I was able to have my A-game on with my makeup use.
I decided to wear my lacy, cream coffee colored, cocktail party dress that I recently bought from Anne Taylor. I paired this dress with pink earrings from an Italian designer and silvery, sparkly, Badgley Mischka flats from Nordstroms. I am still on the prowl for the perfect gala purse since my shiny, black, Kate Spade purse has been getting a bit tattered here and there.
The drive was decent, given that I did hit some traffic after 5 pm. A great perk with getting my tickets ahead of time was having complimentary valet parking included in the package. There was street parking around the corner of the residence but the valet service was top-notch!
The party started at 6, on the dot! Before the doors opened, a line formed of classically dressed guests in suits, tailored dresses, and well manicured hairstyles. Again, much like when I watched my very first Washington Film Institute film, I was star-struck by the attendees.
Walking through the expansive doors, I was greeted to regal oil paintings, historic busts (Ben Franklin, America’s favorite 100 dollar bill icon) and marble floors. Complimentary coat check was given to all guests and the rest room was conveniently placed by the entrance. Plush, velvet, red seats with a faux gold trimming was placed by the lobby area for guests to sit when they felt a bit woozy from all of the champagne sampling. Neo-classical tapestries and featured works of art from collections of the Louvre museum were plastered in different rooms.
As someone who is petite in size (5’1), I measured out my samples to smaller tastes. There were approximately 6-7 bartenders dressed in tuxedos, cocktail dresses, or in prim black garb. Tables were neatly pleated with white cloth, and an endless supply of champagne glasses. Underneath the tables were champagne bottles and cases of Perrier (delicious carbonated water for those who needed to nurse any tipsy spells).
During the duration of my stay, I sampled the following champagnes: Roger-Constant Lemaire Magnum Rose de Saignee ($675 retail value), Roger-Constant Lemaire Cuvee Roger-Constant 2008 Limite ($485 retail value)Thienot Garance Vintage 2007,Canard-Duchene Brut Authentic,Canard-Duchene Rose Authentic, and Canard-Duchene Charles VII Blanc de Blancs. In between sips, I drank as much Perrier as possible and nibbled on several appetizers and desserts. The popular drink of the night, according to several attendees, was the French 75 which was a concoction of champagne, citrus, and the finest cognac known to man. This was a strong drink.–so strong that I felt the effects after one sip.
Along with sampling drinks, The appetizers that I tasted was the duck foie gras on toast, the black truffle squares, caviar on mini blinis, blinis with a citrus cream, and tomato, parmesan confits. Wherever I walked there was a kind server dressed to the nines, serving me all you can eat appetizers (made by the Ambassador of France’s personal chef). A part of me felt that I left the United States and was on an episode of “Rick Steves Europe” show.
There was a room that was filled to the brim with French oil paintings from several centuries ago. A vast cheese, bread, and charcuterie platter was planted in that room and several party-goers nibbled in a finely tuned circle.
Much of the crowd was easy-going and nice to chat with. I had a wonderful time getting to know several ladies, such as a notable travel blogger, a house wife in Frederick, the Ambassador’s right hand women, and a budding blogger who is already immersed in the DC philanthropic gala scene. Along with loving champagne, most of us had one, simple thing in common: we loved dessert!
We all talked about how perfect these mini confections were. A popular choice was the mini chocolate sticks with the raspberry jam filling and my personal favorite was the mini canales (the mini brown mountains). Authentic french desserts are so hard to find in the D.C area so sampling them inside the confines of the ambassador’s home was a pure treat.
Speaking of the ambassador, he had a rousing speech in his foyer to a packed audience. He spoke of how France’s economy has been strong for the past 6 years and how strong the country is given precarious times with the world. France has impacted the world, at large, through more than just champagne. France has contributed to creating jobs oversees, with enhancing the arts, and with massive contributions to the scientific world.
After the Ambassador of France concluded his speech, Denis Chazelle (a native of Champagne, France) and the Executive Director of the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C, gave an informative speech on French-based businesses in the United States. He opened up his speech with a humorous joke pertaining to Nutella that had the crowd smirking.
Around 9:00 p.m, the crowd thinned out and several attendees waited outside for an uber. I had an arresting time, having my vision filled to the sight of fine oil paintings created by Stephane Koerwyn, listening to airy vocals from Barbara Papendorp, eating only the finest foods that the chef to the Ambassador of France would make, and drinking top-notch champagne from France’s finest wine makers. This event was a true feast of the senses!
The French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C holds galas like this as well as similar events that promote networking, promote French culture, and promote businesses. Interested in learning more? Click here!
About the French Chamber of Commerce of Washington D.C
Since its founding in 1896, the French-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) has been promoting and developing sound economic, commercial and financial relations between the United States and France.As a private, not-for-profit, commercial service organization (501(c)6), the French-American Chamber of Commerce is funded solely through membership dues, sponsorships, and proceeds from events and services.
The FACC consists of 19 U.S. chapters, all dedicated to supporting companies and organizations with bilateral needs and interests. Our members are businesses, organizations and individuals with a stake in French-American trade policy, economic relations and market developments.Founded in 1987, the Washington D.C. Chapter of the French-American Chamber of Commerce (“FACC WDC”) is committed to providing the highest level of service to our members.