I'm trying to catch up with things past in my life. This time it's Cork Poppers take on cooking with wine.
Our challenge was to bring wine to the party along with our dish to pass. The wine had to connect with the dish, which is most cases meant cooking with it.
It was a good challenge and the results didn't disappoint, starting with the cheeses from Dick, Cheryl and Pat and the bread from Baker Rick. Dick said the cheese had claret or port in it, so he brought a bottle of claret to share.
The Seltzner Napa Valley Claret 2010 was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. It was tart, spicy and very dry. We all agreed it had a remarkable fragrance. I'd wear it as cologne -- at $17, it costs less than most cologne!
Barb's dish was a Caesar Salad and the wine she used in her dressing ended up being my favorite of the tasting -- and I'm not by nature a white-drinker.
It was a Clean Slate Riesling 2011, a German wine. Dry and light it was very refreshing. It smelled lovely and a little fruity but not sweet. Of particular interest is that it had a surprisingly low alcohol content -- 10.5 percent -- which may mean one could drink a little more! And at a $10 price (Barb got it on sale for $8) it is an excellent bargain. And mighty good in salad dressing!
Can you buy a wine by it's label? Sometimes! And sometimes it doesn't matter, because the label is so good.
In the case of La Capra Viognier 2009 from Fairview (South Africa) you can enjoy both. The label describes this white as "bold and expressive, like a vaudeville show." While I didn't like it as well as the Clean Slate, it was still very good at $9, a good buy.
Our menu would include Welsh Rarebit served over asparagus. Meredith and Roger used a 2011 Sauvignon Blanc called Marlborough Zeal Estate Wines.
We all agreed that the aroma had a lot of grapefruit in it -- I can't usually tell too specifically and this one was no contest. Or, "Grapefruit juice with a kick," someone said. At $9.79 it was well-priced.
For mine, to go with dessert of marinated strawberries over puffed pastry galettes with a Lemoncello cookie, I chose Chateau du Pin, a red from the Loire Valley of France.
It was $9.79 and a good buy, delicious with the berries. (I've written about that at this tasting; it was the first and only (to date) wine that we tasted and immediately ordered a case to split among us.
There are three other wines to mention from this tasting, two of which were sipped and savored and one of which was used in the cooking but neither sipped nor savored.
I wrote that the Tres Picos Borsao 2010 Garnacha was "really yum, very berry." A nice red, it had a fabulous aroma. The 2010 had aging potential through 2015 and was $14.
The Nisia Rueda Old Vines Verdejo 2011 was a Spanish white. It had the second-best label of the day and was very tasty.
The merchant who sold the wine recommended it go with goat cheese, which was one of the cheeses on our tasting platter. It worked very well with it. It has a one-year aging potential.
Clayton used a grocery store favorite on the sauce for the garlic mushroom brown sauce for the chicken rollatini.
It was Barefoot Chardonnay, which he chose because it wasn't oakey and worked well in the sauce. It was $5 (on sale 2 for $10, so it might be a whopping $6 or $7 regular price).
The wine is from California and was perfectly fine for the sauce and didn't even taste so bad on its own! In fact, for an inexpensive drinking and cooking wine, it was fine!
Our Cork Poppers are nothing if cheery, so after tasting some wine, we engaged in bean bag toss with nearly everyone taking a turn to the cheers of the spectators! Given the wine tasting was before, our aim in general was remarkably good!
Then it was on to the dinner, where we had to admit that everyone exceeded their challenge of cooking with wine!
What a wonderful way to welcome spring! Cheers! (I love this photo of Rick -- he looks like he's in France, not Michigan!)