Monday, June 14, 2021

"Quarant-whine!" The Cork Poppers are Back!

The morning of our Cork Popper reunion, with the theme "Quarant-wine," started with an ER trip for Rick and ended with us all tasting seven wines, enjoying a fabulous feast of appetizers and desserts and having a non-stop, "It's been 16 months since I've seen you!" catch up party!

The morning of our party, which was to be on Rick's patio, began with a call from him shortly before my 8:30 physical therapy appointment -- he was sick as a dog and after a talk with our doc, I took him to the ER. (PT has been rescheduled.) Four hours later we were on the way home and he was feeling much better. It was a diverticulitis attack/infection and it eased almost as quickly as it came on. I was elated!

Photo by Cheryl Rice

I power-set the patio of our group of 12, relieved it could go on and even more so that I had made my cake, deviled eggs and ham sliders the night before. I was also glad that we had decided to use paper plates, especially after everyone left and clean-up was a breeze. That was a good thing -- we were both exhausted!

Photo by Cheryl Rice

For those new to the Marmelade Gypsy, Cork Poppers is our wine tasting group. Each couple brings a different bottle of wine and we taste and (usually) discuss it. Don't expect erudite comments during these conversations! If you've read any of our previous posts (archived above on the Cork Poppers tab) you know that our comments will never be included in "Food and Wine." (Although Popper Mike said we should have them on youtube!)

Bob introduces his wine

Cheryl and Dick contributed to the beauty of the table with lovely roses in a wine decanter (one great hostess gift!) and Kate kept everyone informed of the day's events while we were still in limbo at the hospital (note to self - next time bring the tablet to the hospital so you have your email address book at hand!) Cheryl also supplied many of the photos for this post as my battery was on its last legs!

Usually I have more to say about each of the wines but this time we were just so darned glad to see each other that, with a few exceptions, we bagged the background of the wine and just enjoyed. I'll list them below -- but the comments, unless otherwise indicated, are mine.

Dick, Cheryl, Roger and Kate catch up

We started with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc, 2018.

Cold, crisp and delicious, it was a wonderful start to our afternoon, which was very hot, even under shady trees. This wine, from the Columbia Valley, is readily available around in the U.S. nationwide.

Bob, Clayton and Dick - photo by Cheryl Rice

Starting with light and moving darker, we went to Kate's Rose, called Villa Sparina.

Rose can be a hit or a miss for me. I like the cold, freshness of a dry Rose, especially on a hot summer day. But I don't like sweet wines and some are. This one, though, I would buy in a heartbeat. It had a wonderful color and was dry and delicious. Kate got it in the 6-for-$60 package from our local wine shop and I will definitely go get a bottle of my own of this one for about $13 retail.

Our third wine was from Anne and Clayton, Quedarse Garnacha, 2019, a Spanish wine. Anne introduced this one -- it was a deep purple with smooth, round tannins. "This is sure to be gone quickly," one of our merry band said.

Other comments were "Very pleasant," "Very drinkable," and  Dick's noted, "I've never had this grape by itself. This would be good with chicken -- more like a Pinot an less like a deep red." I like the dryness of it," Clayton added.

Anne and Clayton - Photo by Cheryl Rice

Anne got this from a wine club that she and Clayton belong to. The non-member price was $19.95 and the member price was $13. 

Our group drinks reds, for the most part and we had quite a selection. The fourth was Bourgeuil 2017 from Roger and Meredith. It was a Cabernet Franc and had wonderful rich tannins, tasting of cherries. It's from the Loire Valley and was $16 at our local wine shop.

(About this time, Roger, seen in the photo below in the Hawaiian shirt, said, "What's that big bird out there" (on the lawn). We reminded him it was actually a squirrel, although we liked Mike's interpretation of the "grand tufted peacock of South Dakota" better.

Roger and Barb -- Photo by Cheryl Rice

I was up next with one of my favorites -- Arcos Toscana, a Tuscan wine. This was part of our 6-for-$60 deal at the same place Kate found her wine. When Rick and I had it several weeks ago, we knew we would have to share this with the Poppers.

Everyone gave this one good reviews, including a "thumbs up" from Clayton and comments of "Really good!" from Dick, Roger and Barb. It's rich and fruity and you really get the sense of the fruit, though it's not a sweet wine, like a sherry, for example. It's a full blown Tuscan red. The market price would be $15.


Barb was up next Z's 7 Deadly Zins, a California Zinfandel. This wasn't my favorite but I suspect that it was because the flavor profile was considerably different from the one before and it tasted slightly more -- not bitter, really, or sour, but enough different that I would have preferred to have had it later.

We came to our last wine, from Bob -- Three Finger Jack, 2019. This came from our Meijer store (a large superstore) and is a Northern California wine aged in  rum barrels.

My notes had "really good" and comments were that it would be delicious with pork or barbecue.

No guarantees on which of these are available in other parts of the country or internationally. Most of ours came from either the market or local wine shops. While we all had favorites, there wasn't a bad one in the bunch!

After the tasting (with a wonderful cheese and cracker selection by Bob) and a telephone catch-up with our Popper-alum Pat, who lives in Savannah, we enjoyed quite the feast!

Generally we will have a sit down dinner but the outdoor setting and the reunion focus called for something different so we had a menu of appetizers! And boy, what a feast -- no one left hungry!


There were ham sliders, deviled eggs, shrimp cocktail, tomato/mozzerella/salami skewers, an enormous charcuterie/antipasto platter, Rick's bread (made after he got back from the ER) and a variety of spreads.

For dessert I made a cake with my new Nordicware bee-pan and Kate brought fabulous cookies from Goody Goody.

Dick and Cheryl

Everyone left with party favors that included framed couples photos from our past events, hand sanitizer and a noisemaker. But most of all, everyone left with smiles. 

Our Happy Group -- Photo by Cheryl Rice

It felt good to be normal again.

Cheers! (Check out past Cork Popper posts, organized by country or type of wine.)

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Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, what a happy reunion for all of you. I am so glad you could once again celebrate! I have visited Chateau St. Michelle and it is a beautiful winery. Have a wonderful Monday!

Victoria Zigler said...

I'm glad you were able to get together again at last. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. And how lovely that you had such a great selecction of wines that you all enjoyed so much for your reunion gathering.

Sorry about Rick not being well in the morning, and having to make a trip to the hospital. Glad he got better quickly and was good to go by the time you had company coming over.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

I am so glad that Rick was ok and that your group were finally able to get together again. Those wines sounded interesting!

Red Rose Alley said...

So glad you could get together again with friends with wine and company and cheer. I see some familiar faces on here that you've posted before. Haven't had a good glass of wine in awhile. The food looks wonderful, what an elaborate spread. Hoping there are more fun times together with your loved ones, Jeanie.


*I know how much you love old photos, as I do, and we cherish them so, and my post is filled with them today. You might enjoy seeing them. : )

Pam said...

Isn't it great to be able to have people around and have some laughs together. Seems like it was for ever. You did the wine get together and we had a moonshine get together last night....haha..

Linda said...

Yay!!! Wonderful news.

Miss Val's Creations said...

How fun to be able to get together once again for a scrumptious tasting! Normalcy is a beautiful thing!

My name is Erika. said...

It is fun to be back to "normal" things, isn't it? Looks like lots of fun. And that is a cool bee-hive cake pan. I like it. Did you make a honey cake? Hugs-Erika

bobbie said...

I'm glad Rick is OK!! And that the Poppers were able to gather again ~

DUTA said...

I wish I was there too! Lovely company, delicious food, I'm not an expert on anything, certainly not a wine connoisseur.
I usually drink red wine, 100% grapes, no alcohol. It's called Carmel Tirosh.

Martha said...

What a fun reunion! I'm sure glad Rick was OK. Looks like a good time was had by all. Food, wine, and friends - a perfect combo! :)

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

I'm so happy your group got together again (even with the ER visit) -- sounds like you had a wonderful time. Look forward to seeing more posts of wine tasteings.

DeniseinVA said...

Sorry to hear about Rick’s trip to the ER but looks like a good time was had by all afterwards. A great gathering of friends made even more special after not having a get together in all that time. It was really good to see all your happy, smiling faces. said...

I'm so glad the Cork Poppers reunited! I know your group must have a ton of fun, and such a great way to taste a lot of different wines. I am amazed that Rick was in the ER that morning but was able to participate that evening! Love the theme, "Quarant-wine" ๐Ÿ˜‚

Karen said...

Poor Rick. He has my sympathy. I love your bee cake!

Prims By The Water said...

I am not a wine drinker, but looks like you had fun and enjoyed yourselves. Janice

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

That was a long time coming, but what a great gathering! So glad you were able to do it. I'm also so glad it was nothing serious with Rick! May you keep on popping! -Jenn

Marilyn Miller said...

Sorry Rick had to make a visit to the ER, but so glad he is better and the gathering happened. I love appetizers and all of them looked sooo delicious. What a fun way to gather together after this long break. These gatherings now are so treasured.

William Kendall said...

Sounds like you had fun.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

Quite a group! Quite the party! You must have missed them. Glad Rick recovered quickly!

gretchenjoanna said...

What fun! Does your bee cake recipe have honey in it? I want to make one with at least part honey and I've explored recipes that might work, but so far I have only used my honeycomb pan three times and haven't hit on the winning recipe yet!

Iris Flavia said...

Yipeeee... a reunion, that´s soooo great! I´m happy for you!
The ER not so much!
16 months. Oh, boy.
You look so beautiful and happy, I copy your smile, thank you :-)
Love the Hawaiian shirt *+ hat of your friend, oh, this looks like fun!
Hmmm, Toscana. We really did buy a wine there, from the "Nonno" of the family. I still have the empty bottle :-)
Is there a story about the three finger´s of Jack? (My T also has merely three due to an accident).
Ohhh, the food looks so good!
Leaving with a smile is the best!

Valerie-Jael said...

So glad you were able to enjoy your party and glad that Rick was treated so quickly. It's wonderful to feel a bit normal and be amongst people again. Have a great week, hugs, Valerie

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I know that all is well with the world and normalcy has returned, at least to one corner of Michigan. Vive Cork Poppers! You obviously all had your usual great time together and made the entire readership of your blog long to be there. Are you able to buy Malbecs where you live, Jeanie. If so, and you can find Don David (great name, huh?), I am sure it would be a great hit at your next event. In the meantime, you and Rick could kill a bottle yourselves!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I'd love to participate in your Popper event. Now that we know so much about Zoom, maybe you should host a Popper online among your blogging friends. My nephew has a wine store in Waco, and he is fabulous at recommending some good natural wines.

Carole @ From My Carolina Home said...

So glad Rick was OK. Your party looks like such fun, getting together with friends again is a joy. I'm not a wine person, but happy you have a group that likes the same things.

R's Rue said...

Sorry about the ER visit but glad Rick is okay and you could enjoy your gathering. Hugs.

gigi-hawaii said...

That looked like such a fun party! I like the smiles, the food, the wine, the weather, and the ambience. It's good to be back socializing, isn't it?

La Table De Nana said...

Fiona!Glad Rick was ok!I love being prepared and you were!cake looks fab from here..Must be so nice to be ensemble๐Ÿ™

Joanne Huffman said...

Good that Rick is ok. It looks and sounds like a great gathering.

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Looks like a very fun group. Wine tasting is wonderful, sharing different wines. The food looks fabulous. Getting together with friends again is long overdue. Love the idea! Have you ever done a blind testing?

Anca said...

Fantastic!!! Wine tasting is back for you. That's wonderful. I'm very happy for you. xx

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, you guys always have such a good time and I'm glad you can be together again. Glad it was nothing more serious with Rick..Happy June..xxoJudy

Jenny Woolf said...

So glad Cork Poppers is up n running once more! I know how much fun you both used to get out of it. It looks as if it was a lovely day!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a happy reunion! I am glad the rain held off and you were able to all get together. Appetizer meals are one of my fave kind of meals! And that honeycomb cake mold is so cute! How fun! It feels good to be able to see people again! We had Phil’s mom, aunt and 3 cousins over on Sunday to meet Will. It was a steamy 95 but we were still outside for most of the time. Our backyard is shaded so that helped!

Lowcarb team member said...

I am so pleased that Rick was ok and you were able to get-together with your wonderful Cork Poppers Group. Really enjoyed seeing the photographs and reading about the wine.
Hope your week is going well.
My good wishes.

All the best Jan

Lynne said...

Happy days are here again!
Hope Rick’s diverticulitis ER was a one time happening!
Looks like a perfect, long awaited, Cork Popper event!
And the appetizers looked yummy, (descriptions too.)
Hope you’ve enjoyed these past few COOLER days!

crackercrumblife said...

What a happy occasion! So glad that you could be with your friends again! It looks like a fantastic time. And it reminds me that it is time for me to switch over to white wine again for the summer. Lol. I think I will start with the Chateau St. Michelle you mentioned!

crackercrumblife said...

And I just read through the comments - I am totally down with Deb's suggestion for a zoom wine night! Lol.

The French Hutch said...

How wonderful you are finally able to get-together with your wine tasting group for fellowship and fun! Such a great selection of wines and food and best of all seeing friends again. I enjoyed seeing all of your pics and happy is the word I would use for everyone's mood. Glad Rick's attack left as fast as those tend to come on, ugh! What a lovely reunion Jeanie........

Divers and Sundry said...

Happy reunion! The appetizer menu looks perfect for a wine tasting. I like dry reds best, but all of these sound like they'd be fun to try. A variety. Nice!

Sandra Cox said...

So glad the Cork Poppers were able to meet. Everything looks delicious.
Sorry Rick got sick:(

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Hi Jeanie. How wonderful that 'Cork and Poppers' is back up and going strong.
I always enjoy your events and this one looks especially happy and fun. It is wonderful to be doing things once again. Hope Rick continues to do well.

Happy summer days, Jeanie.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Glad that Rick's emergency room visit turned out to be easily treatable and that you were both able to enjoy the friendship, good food, conversation and of course wine with your friends. Everyone looked so hap[y to be gether again after so long and I enjoyed the wine descriptions, none of which we have ever sampled, but then there are so many wines and so little for books!

Rita C at Panoply said...

When I saw a few photos of this monumental reunion I was so happy! But, I didn't know what happened with Rick, so I'm glad to see that his trip to the ER wasn't longer than it was or more serious (although I know it was for him!). As a non-connoisseur (I consider you guys true oenophiles), these posts are not only fun but very educational for me. I love reading the comments. It helps me to decipher what I would like, given the preferences you remark on. So happy for you guys to be able to get together. I look forward to more of these.

Evi Erlinda said...

What a fun-tastic moment! Great wines and foods ๐Ÿ˜‹
Glad Rick is okay now.
Love Roger;s shirt!

Pamela said...

I’ve missed this group! Nice that you are getting back to normal after 16 months.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I'm glad that Rick was OK! I've had the same attack and I know how painful it can be. I'm also glad to hea that Cork Poppers events are back! You all chose such delicious sounding wines and an array of appetizers was a wonderful idea for an outdoor event.

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

Good food and wine always makes for a nice day but gathering again with friends had to make it very special.

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