Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cork Poppers Kick in the New Year!

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!"


Annie said...

Boone's Farm! What a riot. I haven't thought of that in years. Back in the 60's the in joke was Boone's Farm apple wine in a wino's brown bag.

Karen Owen said...

And a good time was had by all! Golly, I wish I had been there. I have to try some of those wines, except for the blue, of course.

Jane said...

The house looks great! The wine recommendations fabulous. I have a suggestion for those of us following your wine trail; not that you need anything more on your plate would be wonderful if you had just a wine blog where you could repost/post all the wine tastings there would be a ready reference.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh fun! What a cool get together to host. My aunt and uncle have done this and then had their guests vote for their fave red and white. It it interesting to see which price point wins! Sounds like a very fun event w/ wonderful friends!

Anonymous said...

"Overtones of poop"?!? Almost makes me want to try that wine, just to see if it's really true! Boone's Farm brings back lots of college memories - my friends & I commemorated more than one occasion with a bottle of their strawberry wine. If you liked the Chateau Chantal Riesling, you might like Grand Traverse Winery's Riesling too.
~ Pat K.

Ruth said...

Your home looks so beautifully inviting.

We have been very pleased with Coppola wines we've tried. I agree with you about zinfandel, I stay away from them. But we went to Dusty's New Year's Eve and I ordered their flight of "rich reds" and one was a zin. Oh no, I thought. But it was dry and great!

Very fun group hobby!

anno said...

Great food, excellent wine, the best of friends, all together in the loveliest of settings -- what a fabulous way to start the new year! Here's hoping that respiratory infections stay far far away and that you have lots and lots of time for creative play in the coming year. Happy New Year!

joyce said...

I totally do not like wine of any sort, but the thought of coconut flavoured wine did intrigue me....minus the poop overtones. Its funny, cause my son mentioned only last night that during one of his shifts at the grocery store, a coconut randomly exploded all over some lady.....maybe that's where the coconut wine comes in???

~*~Patty S said...

I am officially hungry AND thirsty now thank you very much :)

Happiest of New Years to you and yours Jeanie...looks like you are off to a wonderful start!

Deb said...

Looks like you had a great night with good friends and good wine. Can't beat that. All the Best to you in 2011 and I look forward to your posts and seeing more of Gypsy. Hugs, Deb=^..^=x5

Marilyn said...

Looks like a fun party. Love seeing your Christmas dishes too.

Privet and Holly said...

DEAR Jeanie!
Merry Christmas AND
Happy New Year! From
the sounds of this
post, you have kicked
off that nasty illness.
I am still crawling out
from under mine....UGH.
Just starting to catch
up on e-mails and blogs.
I love wine, so this was
really fun to read about.
Usually when we visit my
parents we go to a few
tasting rooms, but this
year it wasn't in the cards
due to everyone being sick.
I hope your holidays were
filled with magic and quiet
joy. I love that one of
your resolutions is to "take
the high road even though
the low road is easier."
Amen, couldn't agree more!
Looking forward to walking
with you through 2011.
Be well!
xx Suzanne

koralee said...

Now that looked like fun...thank you for visiting me the other day...sending you many blessings for 2011 xoxo

Wrightboysmum said...

It looks like a lot of fun. Good friends and good wine are a perfect mix. I have to say the blue stuff looks like you would put it in the car lol.

Becca said...

Wow, I didn't know Boone's Farm still made "wine" (and I use that term loosely!) I wouldn't even drink that stuff in high school!

Your wine tasting nights look like such fun :)

Joanne Huffman said...

You have a knack for having a good time with good people. I don't drink wine, but I always feel like I'm part of the party when I read about your tasting parties.

Vagabonde said...

I enjoyed coming along on your trip west. The scenery there looks so outstanding. It’s so nice to have family back west – this is when I wish I had more family (my mother was an only child and my father had only one sister who lived in Cairo, Egypt.) The pictures of your cat are outstanding. Today I tried to take several pictures of Mitsou, our Korat, but she never looked at me, or looked down, it was so frustrating – how do you do it?

I have looked at the Coppola wines before and was not sure, but if you say they are good, I’ll try them. We try to drink a glass of wine every evening because of its benefit. In France I read there is less than half the amount of Alzheimer and heart problems as in the US and wine has a lot to do with it.

Bella Rum said...

This looks like so much fun. In fact, after following your blog over the past year, it looks like you really enjoy your life. I've certainly enjoyed reading about it.

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