It was a cold, snowy day when our Cork Poppers gathered for the first tasting of the new year. And when I say cold, I mean wind chills in double negative digits, ice under snow that crunches like your morning cereal and piles of the white stuff bracketing every street and driveway. Why wouldn't a little wine be welcome?
This time we were at Cheryl and Dick's house. Every couple was to bring a wine to share and if we wanted to bring a gift to exchange, we could do that, too.
We started the day, though, with a little game, guessing some of the events by the numbers from 2013. Cheryl had found wonderful wine bottle Christmas ornaments and had tagged them with wishes for the new year. I chose "adventure."
Rick was away and Pat sent a wonderful note to me earlier in the week saying she so enjoyed the Christmas posts on the Marmelade Gypsy that she wanted to pick a wine for the two of us to bring. Worked for me! It was the first we tasted.
It was a Beringer White Merlot -- and it certainly was a steal. A huge bottle (party size!) was about $10.99 on sale, so add a couple of dollars if you get a non-sale price. (It is very available in grocery stores and markets.) The color was a pale pink, about the color of a Rose. It was fresh -- similar to Rose or a White Zinfandel, but we agreed we liked it better than White Zin. Think hot summer evening on the porch or beach. Fresh, crisp, a little sweet but not cloyingly so.
Then we were on to the reds. Mike and Barb offered Monte Antico Toscana, 2009
This Tuscan wine was rich and had a wonderful taste of cherry and dark berries with (at least I thought) a hint of cinnamon. It was deep and full bodied and just delicious. It has a stelvin (screw) cap and is a blend of Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. "Drink now!" Mike said he paid $12 for it, but often sees it at other places (including markets and some grocery stores) for about $10. It's well worth it! We loved it with the sharp cheddar and dark chocolate.
Anne and Clayton were up next with an Organic red from France called "O". This, too, was delicious.
Clayton said the blend of Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (2010) by Gilles Louvet that he brought to Cork Poppers was introduced to him from a distributor friend. Clayton estimated it would be $15-20 in the store It had a very nice finish and Dick, who had prepared pork roast for dinner, sighed and said it would have been very good with the pork!
Our host Dick brought out one of his golden oldies from his cellar for the next tasting. It was a Amarone della Valpolicella Classico by Bolla from Italy. It's grown in an area around Rome and it was 10 years old!
This was definitely a fine wine (It was $30 back then!) and divinely mellow and full. Just one sniff (and Dick had decanted it) and we knew we were in for a treat -- it was very, very rich. It takes cellaring very well. Well over my price range, I was honored to taste it!
Our dinner was a wonderful glazed pork with a to-die-for sauce prepared by Dick, one of Brb's four-star salads, my cheesy potatoes, a spinach/cheese and mushroom dish by Meredith and Anne's version of Ina Garten's apple crisp. That was when we had our last wine, Macaron Prosecco DOC, brought by Roger and Meredith.
Roger mixed a cranberry juice-prosecco drink for us and it was delicious. This was the same prosecco we had for mimosas on Christmas. I should have had a sip of it before the juice went in so I could give a better assessment, but I'm guessing it was pretty good, because it was great with either orange or cranberry. When I bought some over the holidays it was $7.95. That may have been a sale price, but even if it was, quite affordable.
I love our gang, the fun we share, the humor, the good will. The wines are secondary to the joy of being with good friends -- but a pretty close second!