Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Cork Poppers Go Italian! That's Amore!

My friend Roger's t-shirt bore a message to consider:

"I've never been in a vineyard but I'm pretty sure I've drunk one."


Cue the music! I think that's how all of us felt after our last Cork Poppers where we sampled wines of Italy. We met at Barb and Mike's house and it was a bit of a celebration and a sadness. We had two birthdays to celebrate and we also knew it would most likely be the last gathering for Pat, who is moving to Savannah.

Pat's farewell Cork Poppers. A toast.

So, I brought Incanto Prosecco to start us out. I thought it was really good and I'd buy this again -- I think it came from Trader Joe's and I bought it in the fall so I can't remember much else about it. Including the price. But time didn't age its sparkle!


We didn't discuss, we just sipped it while we were chatting, setting out wines and getting snacks.


Our first official wine was Benvolio Friuli Pinot Grigio DOC 2016. This was one hundred percent Pinot Grigio grapes and I liked its crispness.


But Cheryl didn't agree. "It smells like urine," she said, adding upon confusion from others enjoying it, "I didn't say anything bad about the taste." She was reminded that she was sitting by the dog when she made that announcement.


At this point, Barb noted that our newest member, "Bob is trying to figure a way to get out of this group," while Meredith, returning from winter in Arizona noted "I'm glad to see nothing has changed."

Bob might be wondering why he decided to join us!

Barb and I both noted we liked this (and for $10 a good buy) while Rick observed that the "apple comes and gets you from the next room." So I won't be sharing it with him. Pat, Anne and Dick, though, were happy to pose with a bottle of white!


The we tried Roger's Pino Grigio delle Venezie IGT 2016 by Kris. I noted that it seemed deeper and smoother than the other with a nice finish. Dick thought it was more tart while Anne said she liked it and Barb assessed, "This is yummy." At $15, a fair buy.


About now we were ready for more food, especially since we needed to soak up the wine that was coming! Rick brought a loaf of Italian bread he baked that morning and it was delish.


I contributed the antipasto platter, while Cheryl/Dick and Pat brought the cheese and crackers. We needed this for our upcoming red wine line-up.


Anne was first with Allegrini Valpolicella DOC 2015. The family has been making wine since the 15th century and the winery itself since 1854. Rick proclaimed this one "delicious!" (But then, it's Valpolicella -- if it's not delish, there's a problem.) He also called it "the best one yet," which made sense because whites aren't his fave and this was the first red. But then he added, "Of all the reds we've had in a long time, this is one of the best."


Someone else said it was like "picking up a handful of cherries and squishing them."  I called it "lovely" and Barb said it's "really, really good." At $20 ($17 on sale) it might not be your daily dash of heart meds, though.


At this point, Dick noted "I think this group has lost a little of its class...it's not just a prime educational experience anymore," (which is how we started.)


He then introduced Tenuta Sassoregale Sangiovese Maremma Toscana 2015 DOC, explaining the grape was usually used as part of a Chianti blend. I thought it tasted good but seemed more like a Pinot Noir to me.


Dick reminded us one should remove chilled wines from the fridge 20 minutes before serving and chill reds about the same amount of time.


Bob offered Modus Tuscana IGT 2014 by Ruffino, saying "I have no idea if it's good or not," to which Rick replied, "It's getting better by the bottle." It was an equal blend of Cabernet, merlot and Sangiovese grapes aged in oak casks.  I found it very smooth. It was Roger's favorite. Price: $21.


About now the group had disintegrated into a panoply of unique and diverse conversations and all who brought wine and presented early were grateful their wines were done so they didn't have to compete with the camaraderie.


Pat then offered up a 2013 Villa Antinori Toscana ICT ($21). Her presentation was the best of the day. "It's a red. Enjoy."


Then it was Rick's turn. When we were visiting Kevin and Molly last, we bought several wines at our favorite Italian grocery. Rick rode his bike to the tasting and said, on his way out, "Just pick one!" from his cupboard. Well, that meant we didn't do any background on it. I grabbed the first Italian I could find -- Cantins Paolini Gurgo Frappato Syrah Terra Sicilane IGP. ($14.99) Bob declared it was a good wine and Mike said, "It's real good." So, there you have it.


Our last wine was Mike's Vietti Barbera d'Asti DOCG 2015 by Tre Vigne. Dick noted "It's like Welches grape juice this first sip, and then it's really good." It's from Northern Italy's Piedmont region (my favorite) and I noted it had nice tannins and a lasting finish. It was very dark. At $18 I think it might have been one of my two favorites (the other was the Valpolicella).


On to dinner to soak up all that wine. (I make us sound really decadent but we aren't really that bad -- they are tasting sips, not whole glasses. Just had to clear that up!) Barb always sets a beautiful and colorful table.


This time we had Corkie place cards...


...and pretty flowers (which we got to take home with us!)


They were a nice accompaniment to Barb's 17 pounds of lasagna and Anne's salad.


 It was very good, but as my socks indicate...


Roger provided a birthday cake for Meredith and Barb.


And it was yummy! No candles though!


There is something wonderful about sitting around a dinner table with a group of friends, everyone having brought something to the table, sharing stories, laughing and celebrating.

And the wine was pretty good, too!


For more Cork Popper posts, see the tab above on the menu bar. Wines are grouped by category. Not all wine is available in all locations and certainly vintage years will be past from older posts. Prices may change based on region and vintage as well, but it's an idea.

Sharing with:  Pink Saturday     /  Let's Add Sprinkles  

40 comments:

Sandra Cox said...

Your wine parties sound like so much fun. The warmth and goodwill just rolls off the page.

William Kendall said...

It sounds like you had fun!

Karen S. said...

Wow, party on with good wine, good food and great friends!

Red Rose Alley said...

What a wonderful spread.....and delicious wine to go with it. That bread looks pretty good that Rick is holding. I went to a fundraiser last weekend, and they served wine, and it's been a very long time since I've had any. Jess is into Rose wines right now. : )

~Sheri

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Sounds like you all had a wonderful tie at yur wine tasting party. Food, snacks and wine all looked wonderful and the bread that Rick made, mum mum.

Unfortunately I can't drink any liquor or wine due to my medication, but there are times when I would love a drink.

Hugs,
Mary

Joyful said...

You have quite a lot of wines on offer at your tasting party. I know little about wines and what I once knew, I've pretty much forgotten, lol. I love all the food you had on hand though. It looks very much within my love for variety and taste. I do hope your friend will be happy in Savannah. I know you will all miss one another. xx

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I always enjoy your cork poppers tales, even though I have no idea what you are talking about, since I don't drink anything except coffee and water. It's still fun to see and read about the various wines and how you all decorate for a given event. Simply wonderful food, to go with the drink. And that birthday cake was fabulous, too.

Jean R. said...

You had me laughing over the wine that smelled like urine...and the dog comment. What a wonderful party. I truly wish I could have been there. And that bread! I need a wine party. The details with the place cards and flowers and Italian theme were very special.

Julia - Vintage with Laces said...

That was obviously another fun cork popper meeting, Jeanie. I like a good glass of wine. Rick's bread looks delicious and has such a wonderful crust.

Valerie-Jael said...

It sounds like a great evening. I don't drink much wine these days, guests all travel by car and do't drink - the problems of progress! The food looked great, too. Glad you are able to have these wonderful evenings together. Hugs, Valerie

Beatrice Euphemie said...

Looks like a wonderful time with good friends, food and wine. A beautiful table and happy faces! Sad that your friend is moving, though. Thanks for all the great wine reviews! x Karen

Iris Flavia said...

Trader Joe's?! Over here that´s a trademark of ALDI! Oh, LOL!

Seesh, we´re more the beer-fans but we still have a wine we bought in Tuscany in 2015 - we should go at it by now, right?
I hope it doesn´t smell of urine (poor doggie!)! Did not when we tasted it at Nonno Duilio´s place (he was so cute, a true nonno).
That cheese-plate looks so yummy!

Always sad to let a friend go, but, my, a new adventure, right?

The KRIS-bottle is beautiful!
Oh, yes, Italians and bread, great combo!

The plates are very, very beautiful, too! So nice set, that table! And lasagna!!!! My keyboard is getting wet! ;-)
(Hubby hates lasagna, can´t even remember when I last had one!)

Sounds like you had great fun and I think this one bottle of ours might be opened this weekend!
To Italy!

David Gascoigne said...

I sure would have fit right into this gathering! Wine, cheese and antipasto sounds quite heavenly. Just what the doctor ordered.....and even if she didn’t. As for the wine smelling like urine, there is a wine sold here called “Cat’s Piss.” It is Australian if I am not mistaken, and that seems to fit right in with a down under sense of humour. There is another called “Fat Bastard.” I am not sure whether Italian wines marketed in Canada and the US have the same labels, but if they do there is an Italian robust red called “Masi Campofiorin” and it is damn good! When you come north of the border you’ll have to try some good Canadian wine too.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post, Jeanie! I admire the way you all get together and contribute and pick themes. So fun! -Jenn

Pam Jackson said...

Wine, food and good friends what more could you ask for? You are always going woman, don't you ever slow down? And what a BIG loaf of bread! WOW...that was big enough to soak up tons of wine.

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

I sincerely envy your terrific social life with friends. I was so very social and friend-focused my first 30 years as an adult (a carry over from my heavy high school and college partying days LOL). But, once I turned 50 and moved to New Haven, I lost all that and my life has become much more solitary (well, I have a spouse whom I adore, but that doesn't count. LOL). I love my life - but I do miss the joy and comfort and love and camaraderie of long pleasant evenings and days with cherished friends.
...and I'm lusting for some of that lovely crusty bread your hubby offered up! LOL Nothing turns on an Atkins follower like a good CARB!

Thanks for sharing, as always!

La Table De Nana said...

You have a fun life:)
Just think..you can visit in Savannah:) It's beautiful:)
Rick's bread is beautiful Jeanie..and all the prep by the hosts is so thoughtful.

Lynne said...

There you have it?
That’s Amore . . .

I have been into my Italy memories the past few days . . .
You have stirred me even more . . .

Love my wine . . . once in awhile . . .
I am more into white than the red . .
But a “Cork Popping” time like yours
would be fun to try the varieties.

I happened to catch Hoda and Kathy in Florence yesterday . . .
Memories!

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Birthday's, Goodbyes and Wine!! I love my whites but there are some reds I really enjoy. Valpolicella is one. Haven't had it in a long time but I'll change that soon! I always enjoy your wine posts!

Sandra Cox said...

I love the place cards. SO CUTE!

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, wonderful friends and Italian fare sound perfect! Rick’s fresh baked bead and your antipasti tray would have been enough for me! They both looked delicious. Sitting around a table telling great stories is one of life’s simple pleasures! Thanks for sharing this special time!

eileeninmd said...

Hello, your wine tasting party looks like a fun time with your friends. The food look yummy, the birthday cake looks delicious. Happy Birthday to Meredith and Barb! I prefer the red wines but the Grigio is good too. Enjoy your day!

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Hi Jeanie, I'm not much of a wine drinker but the lasagna and the company would be enough for me. Sounds like a lot of fun with good friends!..Happy Wednesday..Judy

Carolyn Marnon said...

I am another one of those who don't drink wine. I just don't have the taste for it. Now if there was a tasting group for fans of Dr. Pepper and you could taste it from different regional bottling areas, I just might fit in. LOL!

I came across this when I saw the mention of Cat's Piss wine (wanted to see if it might be sold in the US as I love cats and thought it would be a hoot to have):

"Believe it or not, cat's pee is an aroma many people believe helps to identify a high-quality Sauvignon Blanc.
11 Of The Weirdest Wine Aromas | VinePair
https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/11-weirdest-wine-aromas/"

Being a fan of junk journaling, I am more interested in the wine labels. Love the blue one with the compass looking thing on it.

Although I don't drink wine, I have a fine shelf of wines that have spoken to me over the years. My daughter jokes it's my liquor collection I never use.

The French Hutch said...

Oh wow Jeanie, what a fun evening you had. Everyone looks happy and enjoying the vino, except maybe Cheryl. I LOL at her comment! Old friends and new what could be better. Your platter looks yummy and the table pretty. I would love a slice of the cake. You are always partying Jeanie, I’m worn out. Great snaps, I enjoyed going with you........

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...


What a fun evening, Jeanie! The combination of good wines, delicious food, and fabulous friendship is "molto bene"--Italian for "very good"!

My Community Senior Club potluck has an Italian theme next month and you have given me the idea to use wine corks as decorations for the tables, along with tea lights and some flowers.

Esme said...

This sounds like such a fun evening. If I was closer I would want to be part of this group. Glad to hear your pick was well received.

BeachGypsy said...

What a pretty table!!--bright and festive! Looks like y'all had a great time---so great to have good friends to get together with. The food looks AMAZING.....YUM. And what a gorgeous b/day cake. Looks like a perfect evening to me!

Sami said...

Your antipasto platter looked delicious Jeanie and there's always room for lasagna in my stomach.
You certainly had a great day with friends enjoying good food and wine.
I'm not used to drinking alcohol so I think two or three glasses of wine and I would be doing the singing.

Lauren @ My Wonderfully Made said...

What a fun idea! Wow you guys really look like you had a great time . . . despite the "urine" wine hahahahaha!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Jeani, what fun! And I especially enjoyed Cheryl's and Rick's comments on the wines!

Danielle L Zecher said...

I may have to look for the prosecco. I really like that kind, and have gotten my sister hooked too.

It looks like such a nice event; you really can't go wrong with good friends, good food, and and good wine. Also, I love the idea of the 17 pound lasagna. A good pan of lasagna should be heavy. :-)

kitty said...

Another wonderful get-together with good friends.

Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

Cheers! Looks like everyone is having a great time!

Tracy said...

Sooo GREAT to catch up with you Jeanie being less online in recent days... and what a treat this with your Popper group sampling the tastes of Italy!! Pity your friend Pat is moving so far... But such fun with your new friend Bob joinin the group. Processo is THE drink these days, isn't it?! mmm... You can never go wrong with a nice Valpolicella. It's fun to see the art work on all the labels. We've enjoyed some Villa Antinoir wines too--often a great choice. How cute are your wine socks--haha! But how wonderful is Rick's bread. I always look forward to seeing what bread he makes for your Popper's nights! That cake is tremendous--very fun decorations on it too--and it looks like it was well dipped into!. So much good food and wine... I feel almost tipsy just looking and reading... LOL! I just love how you all go all out for these occasions... with lovely table settings, flowers, food, drink... Your group is just so inspiring--thanks so much for sharing! :) ((HUGS))

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

I loved reading about your cork popper get togethers! What a fun group of people. The whites sound good to me as that’s my preferred wine! And the food looks delicious. Rick’s bread was beautiful and your antipasti platter looks so good. That’s my kind of appetizer!!

Marilyn Miller said...

Your antipasto plate looks sooooo good. Love the cover name tags too. What fun you always have. That lazagna and salad, just yummmmm!

My name is Erika. said...

You guys always go ALL out and it not only looks yummy, but like a good time too. :) Hugs-Erika

Katie Mansfield said...

What a fun party. Thanks for sharing at Keep In Touch.

Polly said...

I’m sorry I’m late again, I don’t comment as often as I would like, I struggle to keep up with visiting my favourite blogs, but I do read all your posts because I enjoy them so much. I love this post Jeanie, full of colour and happiness. Many years ago I worked for a company called Modus. In previous posts I smiled at Lizzie’s stash of toys, I have the same scenario with Rufus’ toys. Glad you’ve got a new hydrangea.

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