AIX-EN-PROVENCE, France -- It’s safe to say I survived midterms in a foreign country, although the studying wasn’t much different than that I’m used to. It’s still very much long hours and drilling information. I was able to experience a grand party put on by my host family. Fred called it a “revival.” After the performances ended, they invited the cast over to the house and had a nice big dinner with plenty of wine. I went up to my room to get ready to go out (oh yes, the night life here is great). As I was sitting at my desk putting on makeup, Aline walked into my room with her arms full of wine. She wanted me to taste them all so I could tell them what I thought. They were all great, especially the Macon-Villages from Burgundy. It’s quite pleasing to the palette and for an excellent price. I had a few that were very new to me; especially the grapefruit-infused sweet wine, which caught me by surprise.

The trip also has offered opportunities to tour the city on foot, including seeing one of Cezanne’s studios. We also walked up even farther to where he painted the Montagne Sainte-Victoire. The other day I took a walk up there by myself, just to get a picture of the mountain from this beautiful viewpoint up above the city. There is incredible nature here all around you even in a city where you seem to always seem to be right next to a whizzing car or tall buildings. I forgot to mention how narrow the sidewalks are; barely wide enough for one person to walk, let alone two or more. Today we tasted two Rieslings next to each other, which is always interesting because it really gives you a sense of how much variation there is between wine regions. The first was from Alsace, which is in northern France. It actually used to belong to Germany but the wine is very different. It wasn’t ready to drink by any means; the acid was screaming high and it could use some time in the bottle. Definitely not typical of an Alsatian Riesling; they prefer their wines with more age to them. The other Riesling was from the Mosel region in Germany. It was definitely more fruit-forward with a semi-sweetness and very enjoyable now. Needless to say, it was the favorite among most of the group.