The Good Life

By Stefan Theil

It's the biggest comeback in the world of wine. A decade or two ago, German Riesling seemed to appeal mainly to school matrons and aging British eccentrics. Today, Riesling wines are hot, with star sommeliers and trendy restaurateurs plugging the grape. German wine exports--composed mostly of Riesling, the country's premier white-wine grape--have doubled in just four years, says Prince Michael zu Salm-Salm, head of the German Quality Winegrowers' Association. In Britain, sales of German wine have soared 89 percent since 2003. "Those of us who love Riesling just won't shut up about it," gushes London wine guru Jancis Robinson.

The growing demand for food-friendly wines has sparked the Riesling rage. "A crisp, fruity Riesling," says winemaker Friedrich Groebe in Westhofen, near the Rhine, "will go with just about anything." Luxurious older Rieslings pair well with cheese, pate and desserts. The grape also fits a trend toward less alcoholic, lighter wines; Riesling often has less than 10 percent alcohol vs. 14 or more for Chardonnay. And German Riesling may be the world's best wine bargain. Though top-tier bottles go for as much as 4,000 euros, a good basic bottle starts below 10 euro. "For 20 euros you can get a seriously thrilling Riesling," says Robinson. But buy now: prices have been creeping up.

Don't miss: Gunderloch 2004 Jean Baptiste Riesling Kabinett : Grown on a hill beside the Rhine, this juicy vintage boasts peach and apple flavors. Try with stir fry.

Donnhoff 2004 Norheimer Kirschheck Riesling Sptlese : Creamy, rich and floral, with tasty minerals from the volcanic soils.

Selbach-Oster 2004 Zeltinger Schlossberg Sptlese : This steep vineyard on the banks of the Moselle can only be picked by hand. With honey and tropical flavors, the wine is great with cheese or cold cuts. Zum Wohl!

A honeymoon with the kids? Don't knock it until you try it. In the U.K. alone, almost half of all weddings are second marriages, creating a market for postwedding family getaways. Where to go? Maldives: Ultimate Honeymoon's most popular family wedding package to Soneva Fushi Jungle Reserve includes rooms with large open-air bathrooms and butler service (ultimatehoneymoon.co.uk; from $34,010 per week for family of 4). Africa: Relax in palm-frond bandas beside the Indian Ocean at the Mnemba Lodge on the northern tip of Zanzibar, then meet up with the kids for a weeklong safari in the Serengeti Ecosystem and Ngorongoro Crater (DeeperAfrica.com; from $39,196 for family of 4 for 15 days). St. Martin: La Samanna's "Second Honeymoon" package includes a three-bedroom duplex villa with a private rooftop terrace--and baby-sitting. Newlyweds can escape with a personal shopper while kids enjoy beach cabanas with iPods and flat-screen TVs (LaSamanna.com; from $3,200 a day). Belize: Stay in thatch huts where you can swim right off your own terrace. The restaurant, built over the barrier reef on Robert's Caye, serves family-style meals. If Mom and Dad want to be alone, they can send the gang to the resort spa on the main- land via kayak (RobertsGrove.com; from $2,400 a day).

Cities across the globe are paying a small fortune to deck their streets for the season. London: Bricked pedestrian Carnaby Street sparkles with overhanging mirror lights, while Chelsea's lampposts are topped with delicate evergreens strung with soft white lights. Paris: The famous Printemps department store is celebrating--or sending up--its neighbors across the channel with animated windows displaying typical English symbols and scenes, from football to teatime. Vienna: The beautiful Christkindlmarkt in Town Hall Square has ornate trees and more than 100 stalls selling decorations, jewelry and homemade treats. Tokyo: The neon city glows impossibly brighter this time of year; the trees at Yebisu Garden Place are strung with lights, and Tokyo Tower is lit with festive colors.

Perhaps the only thing more painful than sitting through a home video is having to make one yourself. Better to turn it over to the experts. Vanity filmmaking is the classiest way to document your personal escapades, with a professional film crew finding the best shots, adding the perfect soundtrack and providing the smoothest editing around. London-based eDv won't make you catalog your tapes or label your photos; all you have to do is show up with a boxful of random videos or loose photos. You don't even have to point out who Granny is; they'll figure it out. "They're more like criminal investigators," says eDv's Alison Johnson. You can choose to create a documentary about yourself or a biographical film of, say, an ailing relative. And if you have no video, eDv will create a montage of still photos--interspersed as you wish with interviews, current footage of your life or relevant newsreels. They'll even happily jet around the world to interview far-flung relatives (biographies from $4,250 to $80,000; www.edv.uk.com ).

With Britain set to join other European countries that legally recognize same-sex partnerships, gay couples are getting in on the wedding-planning party. But where to begin? The Web site Big Gay Day offers full coordination service, from the invitations to the doves ( biggayday.co.uk ). Absolutely Pink makes handcrafted invitations with Swarovski crystals and pearls ( absolutelypink. co.uk ). John Lewis is the place to register; popular with straight couples, the department store has noticed a 500 percent increase in same-sex gift registries ( johnlewisgifts.com ). Then on to the honeymoon: South Africa has been a hot spot for same-sex couples since gay rights were included in its Constitution more than a decade ago. Lavender Meader designs woman-friendly tours ( wanderwomen.co.za ). Safari Pride, run by gay brothers Mike and Chris Moran, leads trips to private game reserves and luxurious lodges ( safaripride.co.uk ). And in case it all goes wrong, check out Modern Commitments Insurance Services ( www.moderninsurance.co.uk ).

When trunk maker Goyard set up in 1853, aristocrats, traveling the world in 80 days or more, needed cases for their steamship voyages and locomotive journeys. Dishes and hats were schlepped for months on end; crinolines needed hanging cases. Today the company is updating the steamer trunk to accommodate modern needs. A store-model carry-on case (sold only at the Goyard boutique in Paris or through eight other stores, including Barneys in New York and Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong) runs 2,800 euros. But if you're willing to pay big bucks and wait a year and a half, you can get one personalized for any use or occasion. An Arab prince had a trunk specially built for his saddle and polo equipment. One lady had a tiny case custom-made for her cell-phone SIM cards. Chef Alain Ducasse had one fashioned for his spices and utensils (a replica is on sale at the Paris boutique for 20,000 euros). And the Terminal 5 trunk--a sort of party on wheels--starts at 60,000 euros and can hold champagne bottles, a George Foreman grill, plates, folding chairs, a motorbike, skateboards (with cones to slalom around), an iPod and a DJ mixing table. Bon voyage!