Today, Bastille Day, the French will take to the streets in a Fourth-of-July-style celebration, eating, drinking and carousing to mark the storming of the Bastille prison in Paris in 1789, the official start of the French Revolution.
In San Francisco, ex-pats, Francophiles and anyone in the mood for a good time will congregate on Belden Place, a pedestrian alley between Bush and Pine streets that serves as the city's French Quarter, adorned with the appropriately spirited Caf?Bastille, Plouf and B44.
Wine Country has its own ways of celebrating the day.
In Healdsburg, we have our own alley, Bergamot Alley Wine Bar (bergamotalley.com), to head to when we need to feel, or at least drink, French. The brick-walled, alley-like wine bar maintains a treasure trove of rare, aged and affordable wines, including French. Many are
cradled within what they call the Porn Room, cloistered behind a barn door.
By the glass are such delights as Cr?ant de Bourgogne, a sparkling wine made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes grown in Burgundy; fine Champagne; riveting roussanne from Savoie, a cool French region close to the Swiss border; pink-hued Proven?l ros?; and lovely cabernet franc from the Loire.
St. Sup?y Estate (stsupery.com) in Rutherford, owned by the Skalli family of France, hosts a French-inspired wine and small bites pairing today from noon to 4 p.m. ($30/person) complete with p?anque, a ritual of summertime France akin to bocce ball.
If you can't make that, consider one of its interactive wine classes like "Five Bordeaux Varieties and Your Five Senses," a one-hour guided taste of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, malbec and petit verdot meant to sharpen your vinous senses ($50/person).
Chateau St. Jean (chateaustjean.com) in Sonoma Valley will also get its French on today from noon to 4 p.m., with Bordeaux-style wines, French-y bites and live music by Haute Flash Quartet, accompanied by the dancing Can Can Girls ($20/person); costumes are encouraged.
At V?it?Wines (veritewines.com) in Alexander Valley, Gascony-raised winemaker Pierre Seillan makes terroir-driven, micro-cru wines much the way he did in Bordeaux, the Loire Valley and Armagnac years ago.