We had our first wine tasting of 2011 on New Year's Day, a gathering of good friends and good spirits.
The theme was blind tasting, the idea being "does a wine taste better because it's more expensive?" (Of course we all thought not!)
We usually start with whites, then go to the roses or lighter reds and end up with the darkest. But Barb said her wine didn't fall into any of these categories, so we thought we should start with hers.
"It's blue," she said. "I recommend you only have a small taste."
We all laughed. She was right.
Coconut with overtones of poop. (This from their fan site.) At $3.00 it is certainly a good deal -- if price is your only criteria. Otherwise, we recommend skipping the Boone's Farm Blue Hawaiian.
(You'll notice Barb is not drinking the blue wine. This should have been our first clue.)
Dick, our wine guide, picked up the action with his white -- the only white on the table. This was from Chateau Chantal, a Michigan vineyard from the Old Mission Peninsula.
Here's where blind tasting really works. Those of us who have had wretched experiences with Michigan wines may not have found this to be nearly so delightful, crisp and fresh as it was. I'd recommend drinking it on a hot summer night, chilled and delicious. And yes, I will. (The cost of this very nice wine: $12.89, and worth every penny.)
I lost order of what came next. No, not too much wine, just no easy-to-follow list. They were all reds, all mixed in with plenty of snacks (Pat and Meredith brought terrific ones!) to keep us in balance!
Here in no particular order are...
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village 2009 -- this came from Pat and was one of the lighter reds. It was tasty and at $13.99 not a bad deal.
Francis Coppola's Red Label Zinfandel 2009 (Diamond Collection, California). This came from Mike.
I never much liked Zins before I tasted the dryer ones in our group. I'd hold this one as fine no matter how you sliced it. (Mike says all the Coppola wines hes had have been good; nice to know this incredible film director could pull out equally incredible wines. And at $15, well worth it. (Mike and I were both smiling!)
Like it a little less expensive? Then try Vasco Sassetti Sangiovese Ginepro. This Tuscan wine is dark and rich. The description on our handout called it a "really a fun little wine to drink." It was more than that. Rich, full, wonderful tanins, and only $12.99.
The Armador Carmeniere came from Chile. (Odfjeld vineyards). This, too, was delicious. For my money, I think Chilean (and for that matter South American wines in general are wonderful -- and very reasonably priced. This came in at $12.99.
For Rick, part of a wine is the experience that goes with it and the story. The wine he brought, a Oggi Primitivo (a Zinfandel), was one I gave him for Christmas, purchased at the restaurant where we stopped in Ann Arbor on that snowy night we arrived home from Arizona.
I paid $15 at the store, I think. Although Rick thinks I paid $10, and the more I think about it and try to remember, he may be right. I remember I didn't get back the right amount of change! It was worth it, either way!
After a good tasting, a few of us exchanged gifts and we drew a couple of prizes. Then it was dinner time. The "flip flop" coasters Clayton got were "stolen" for a set of placemats!
Mostly, we smiled, talked and were happy, like Pat and Cheryl.
My family room was converted into one of those tiny Italian hole in the wall restaurants where you can't back out of your chair unless someone scoots in!
(Even before the people sat down it was packed -- I must have moved those tables six ways to get them to work!
It was the last chance to use the Christmas dishes. And I made a menu using wine-themed coasters with the menu printed (literally) on a card attached to the front and balanced with a used cork hot glued to the back.
Our menu included a delicious salad from Anne, rolls from Dick and Cheryl and raspberry trifle from Barb. Rick and I made lasagna. The sauce was by-and-large ours and the ricotta mixture was by-and-large the "America's Test Kitchen" cookbook. Needless to say, we added our own bits of creativity.
And we ate, and talked, laughed and toasted.
Then we took a few pix -- the Guys of the Grape (minus Dick; he, Pat and Cheryl left before we got the idea to do that...)
And the Ladies of the Vine -- in focus...
...and maybe a little more like we were feeling!
And it was a very good way to start the new year.
Or, as Roger looks as though he's saying --
"Happ-y New Year!"
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