Friday, March 28, 2014

Cork Poppers Go Italian!

When Cork Poppers meet, we can count on several things. Good food, good company and good wine! The recent gathering focuses on Wines of Italy.

Each couple brought a wine to serve and explain. The day started out with a bit of history on Italian wines and the region.

OK -- let's be fair. The day didn't start with that -- we started with champagne (not Italian) and Prosecco (definitely Italian!).

Of course, in the good food category, you have to acknowledge the amazing pre-dinner treats for tasting, including crackers by me, bread by Rick, cheeses from Pat and Dick..

...and a great antipasto platter from Pat.

As usual, the reds won out in the quantity category, but the first wine from Jim and Dar was a lovely white -- a Pinot Grigio from the northeast area of Italy, not far from the Alps.It was an Attems Pinot Grigio 2012.

It was clean, crisp, dry and I found it an excellent white. While we didn't have the exact cost, it was estimated to be between $18-20 at Costco.

Pat was next witih the first of the Barbera wines we enjoyed. Barbera d'Alba 2010 by Stefano Farina was from a period in which the Barbera grape was particularly good (2010-2012).

Barbara is in the Italian Piedemonte in Northwest Italy. Barbera is a hearty grape, the third-most planted in Italy. It was quite tasty (Dick, in an effort to one-up Barb before she could say it, said "It was the best red we've had today!" -- and the first!). Cost: $14.99.

Roger was next with a Catina Zaccagnini DOC from Italy's Abruzzo area (between the sea and mountains). It was from the area of Montepulciano.

It had nice legs (the drippings down the side of the glass (and, as Roger noted, "Why else would I love it?"). Rick noted it had nice tanins, too. Roger got it on sale for $12.99 (regular price is $15.99) and Meridith noted of her husband, "I'm just proud because you spent more than five dollars!"

Mike and Barb brought the Petra Zingari Toscana 2009. It was described as a "generous wine graced with expressive fruit and a long finish." Dick called it "a nice everyday red." Barb (who brought it) said "I'm not crazy about the wine, but I'll have a little more."

Our offering was a Bricco Dei Tati Piemonte Barbera 2011 DOC.

Like Pat's Barbera, this, too, was from the 2010-2012 period where the grapes were particularly good and the wines of that region praised. It has a full berry fragrance and a wonderful finish. I paid $13 for it at the restaurant where I first had it; online I saw it for much less.


Anne and Clayton offered the Meliani-Chianti Borghi d'Elsa 2012. From Tuscany, the wine was a rich red, dry with slight tanins and a berry fragrance. Rick said "It's not bad" (rather enthusiastically) and Dick said "That's high praise from Rick!"

The cost of this wine was $12 but Clayton said that on sale you can find it for $10 or less.

We wrapped the tasting portion of the day with Dick's Leone d'Oro Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2008 DOCG. This was from the Village of Montepulciano in Tuscany and is a special blend for the Sons of Italy, a society for Italian immigrants started in 1905.

It was rich and full, dry and with a smooth, long finish. Barb said she loved it and Rick said it was his favorite of the day,
coming in at $20.

Here's a good thing to remember -- we had a lot of decanted wines. A red -- even a relatively inexpensive red -- can be almost instantly upgraded with a half hour or so in a decanter.

It was on to the dinner portion of the evening. Keeping with the theme of the evening, the meal was Italian. Of course, Barb's table settings matched with wonderful dishes...

...and individual roses with our place cards which we got to take home, which of course makes me smile. (A tutorial for this is coming soon.)

Take a close look. She made these by simply gluing corks to small vases and vials to serve as a base. Elegant and simple.

Her centerpieces were equally simple and elegant.

Of course, we started with Meredith's salad...

...enjoyed the lasagna...

...and ended with delicious canoli -- perfect after lots of snacks and lasagna!

Another Cork Poppers over... and somehow, we can't wait till the next one!


Willow said...

Now I am truly craving a great salad , Lasagna and wine ~and it is only breakfast time here . lol
Looks like a wonderful time.

Cottage and Broome said...

Wow it looks like you guys had a wonderful! How fun to share wine info like that. I liked all the different uses of the corks too! Laura

Anonymous said...

After 4 attempts, I was finally able to see all of your photos of this fabulous party. Previously, I saw only blank boxes. What a great get together! Glad you all had such a nice time.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I didn't eat breakfast today, and now I am absolutely starving! Too early for wine, but I would love some salad and lasagna. :-)

Such an interesting post. I like learning more about wine, and your photos set a lovely environment.

Bella Rum said...

Such a pretty post. I so love bread and cheese and wine. Oh, and I would dive into that antipasto platter. Oh, no. Now I'm hungry.

Joanne Huffman said...

Such beautiful photos. I can feel the warmth and fellowship of the gathering.

anno said...

Champagne AND Prosecco?!!? My oh my! Everything looks so beautiful -- and to share it with such wonderful friends: just the antidote to this everlasting winter...

Jacqueline~Cabin and Cottage said...

What a delicious occassion! A great way to try new wines. We just watched a couple of foody movies that TCM does with Anthony Bordain on Friday nights. I'm all food and wine inspired! It really is about the sharing. So nice that you have a group like this.

Arti said...

I'm not a wine drinker but I love your photos, especially the food. :)

The Artful Diva said...

clever idea!

Jennifer Richardson said...

Thank God I've already got
a good Italian meat sauce
simmering on the stove;
I'd be changing dinner plans
after these tantalizing photos
if not:) You do make me hungry!
And I love your new header.
And the photo of you is delightful alive:)

Tracy said...

No matter what the theme-choice, champagne is always a great one to start with! (Although, I love me some Cava too ;o) So many YUM nibbles... hard to save room for dinner...LOL! A Pinot Grigio is alway good to have around the house for good white with meals, I think. That's funny what your friend Bard said about her red, "I'm not crazy about the wine, but I'll have a little more." haha... We should decant more often, plan for that. We cook something good, and then decide--WINE! LOL...And I just love your wine parties--how you all go all out with tablescapes and just making it all a beautiful experience. Oh, and more great food... the lasagna... *swoon*... I wish I didn't live so far away! ;o) Happy Weekend, Jeanie ((HUGS))

Anonymous said...

Now you've got me hungry! What a fun time too. It's always nice to read a comment from you.
Be a sweetie,

Bellezza said...

Oh dear, I just had dinner, and I still am salivating over your party! Of course, it isn't just the food,but the lovely center pieces, the rose you're holding with your name card, the map of Italy, and the wonderful name of your group: the Cork Poppers. Love it!

You have been so sweet to visit me and leave such lovely comments. I'll try to do as good a job. xo

Roses, Lace and Brocante said...

What a great evening Jeanie!
The food looks amazing.
Especially your crackers - how kind of Marilyn to help out!
I've made Parmesan biscuits and they're lovely - let me know if you would like that recipe - it's easy peasy!!

I've made a note of the wines -thank you!
Interesting that you used a Champagne with the Prosecco, that's what I always served before lunch on Christmas Day - asking everyone if they would like a 'Bellini' only to find out later I should have used a sparkling Italian wine, with Prosecco and peach nectar (mine was french so I suppose to be an authentic Bellini it should be Italian peach nectar)!
It gets complicated!
Wonderful photos of the night, an especially nice one of you dear Jeanie!
PS I just love your new header with sweet Lizzie Cosette in front of the photo of Gypsie. Combined with the other images it's a perfect introduction to your blog!

paris parfait said...

Looks like fun - good wine, good food and good friends - what's not to like??!!

Jenny Woolf said...

Wow! all looks so fabulous. How great to have friends who are all interested in this so you can cooperate to produce a wonderful evening!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

And now I am craving lasagna. Yum! Italian food is tricky for me to eat in restaurants but I make a good lasagna at home and just might need to make one in April!

Decanting wines definitely makes a big difference. I don't have a decanter but hopefully when I move, I will have a bigger kitchen and more kitchen space. If that is the case, I will maybe ask for one for Christmas!

Marilyn Miller said...

That salad and lasagna are making my mouth water. Very creative center piece and gift.

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