Monday, December 6, 2021

Cork Poppers Taste International Wines!

I haven't been to a Cork Poppers gathering since Rick and I hosted in July and it was so good to see my fellow vino tipplers! Our theme of the day was "Wines from Anywhere but the U.S." and our food theme was Appetizers and Desserts.


Works for me! Here are our totally non-professional reviews of five wines. What can I say -- we know what we like, and what we don't! And we don't hold back!


The afternoon tasting began at our hosts, Kate and Mike, and was kicked off by a celebratory glass of Prosecco. 


Then, on to the tasting! We started out with Dick's offering -- a 2021 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. The Marlborough region is said to have a cool climate with warm days and cool nights, which extend the growing season 


As one might expect with our group, no one held back. "It's manure-y or barnyard-y," said Barb. "It's grassy," Roger said, adding "It makes me see rocky cliffs!" "It's not like any grass I ever had," said Mike M., while Kate said it "reminds me of a badly washed glass."

Oyster Bay's materials say it tastes like grass, gooseberry, grapefruit, mineral and flint. We decided the mineral was lead. At $9.95 on sale at the local Meijer store (and $11-12 retail), I don't think our group will be buying a bottle for the holidays.

Roger was next with another New Zealand/Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, a Pikoura 2016.  We sampled this immediately following a similar wine and it was quite amazing how different they tasted.  


I certainly enjoyed this more and so did most of our group. Rick said the first was stronger and more harsh while Mike said, "I like Roger's better. It doesn't taste like pee." Always a good thing! Roger paid $11.99 at a local market. Online prices are about $15.

At this point, missing our two white-loving members, someone noted, "Why did we buy wines for the people who aren't here today?!"

Overall, I'm not a big fan of Pinot Noir - it's a little wimpy for me. But since we were going international, I figured I'd go with something unique -- a Stone Castle 2018 Pinot Noir from Kosovo. Farmed and bottled in Kosovo's Rahovec Valley, which has been producing wine since 1952, it is prepared in a combination of stainless steel and wooden barrels with a 13 percent alcohol level.


"This is good! I can smell this!" said Bob, who recently recovered from Covid and hasn't been able to smell much yet. Barb declared it "Excellent!" while Rick (who had just driven us across the pothole-ridden roads of Lansing that he equated with a war torn country said it was "Worth driving over the streets of Kosovo for!" Another Popper said "I've not enjoyed a Pinot for awhile but this is good -- it has actual flavor!" I purchased this at a wine store on the far east side of town as part of our 6-for-$55 package, which made it a few pennies over $9. The retail price in that store was $12.50 Dick, who lives on the far west side of town said, "It's good, but I'm not driving that far to get it."


(Then we took a break and talked about Michigan's tragic school shooting the week before and what seem to be the national policy of "duck and cover" rather than legislation that might help stop the problem.)

We resumed with Bob's Layer Cake Shiraz from South Australia at $10.99 available in many stores. "This is good!" Barb pronounced, and Dick agreed. "I'd like to pair this with chocolate," he said, and then took a dark chocolate from the appetizer table to prove his point. (He was right. I did this, too.) 


"Cheap wines, that's all this group needs," someone said. "When I joined this group, it was kind of classy," Roger observed. ""I think we figured out the problem," Dick declared, pointedly looking at Rog!

Then some of us discussed Stephen Sondheim and the great hole his death leaves in the American theatre and offered a toast to one of our favorite composer/lyricists.


Barb and Mike's Le Crosare Ripasso della Valpolicella DOC from Veneto Italy was next. "It smells great!" I noted before tasting and it would be fabulous with a wonderful roast or a hearty pasta. It is a grape in the Amerone family which is higher level of grape or, as Rick narrowed it down, "In other words, this is a good wine!" 


It came from the local wine store at $20. It was worth it.

Our last wine was Mike and Kate's Vina Temprana Old Vine Tempranillo 2018 from Spain. I like a tempranillo and this one held well with a wonderful fragrance and just a bit spicy. At $11.99, it was a good buy.


Mike said it "pairs well with Godiva or a Snickers bar and has its place alongside the pool or curb. The easy on-and-off twist cap is a delight, particularly when you spot the police arriving and must drop the bottle back in the bag. And should your hands be shaking when you drop the bottle, no worries! Our bottles are the most durable in the industry and have consistently out-performed Ripple Boones Farm and Bali Hai in blind drop tests!"

 

You'd think by now we would be ready for food more intense than bread, cheese, nuts and chocolate, so it was on to the appetizer table (which I must say, we did start sampling prior to the tasting!


Among the things on the appetizer table were an antipasta tray, fabulous bacon-wrapped water chestnuts served hot, shrimp cocktail and spanikopita. 

It was a wonderful day, filled as much with friendship as it was food and drink. As Barb said, "I forgot how much I love these people."

 I couldn't agree more.

(For more Cork Popper posts and our wacky wine discussions, visit the Cork Poppers tab on the menu bar above! Wines are separated by category (red, white, Italian, French, etc.)

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45 comments:

Misadventures of Widowhood said...

I've missed your Wine Corker parties. They always look like lots of fun. I had a Pinot Noir last week for the first time and I loved it.

Marilyn Miller said...

I am so happy you could gather.
Just reading everyone's comments of the wine reminded me of attending my tea group tastings where were have similar comments that relate to the tea. Tastings are fun and then to have yummy nibbles too, perfect!

My name is Erika. said...

It is good to be back having these fun get-togethers, isn't it? You all look like you're having a good time. It was fun to read all the wine comments. I hope you have a great new week. Hugs-Erika

bobbie said...

Sounds like a great time was had by all!! Lovely to you back together again ~

Red Rose Alley said...

The food looks really good. A fun get together with wine, foods, and good company. I usually just buy wine for the delightful label that's on it, and I bought the girls one that had a special word on the bottle, but I'm not sure if it's a good wine or not haha. Oh, that herb bread and olives look delish. And I'm not familiar with spanikopita. Will have to look it up.

~Sheri

Red Rose Alley said...

Oh, Spanakopita is a Greek savory spinach pie. That's right up my alley. ; )

William Kendall said...

Good to get together with friends.

anno said...

Oh, what fun! Finger foods and wine has got to be one of my favorite ways to host a party... and such delicious-looking appetizers! That pinot noir you found sounds quite intriguing. Amusing color commentary on the wines, too. Sounds like everyone had a great time -- so glad you were able to gather!

And those appetizers look amazing

ashok said...

Wow looks fun!

GretchenJoanna said...

I wonder if my neighbors would like to be part of a group like this - it does sound like fun. I don't think I've read any of your other Cork Popper posts, but I'm guessing you've tried a few California wines in the past. We have so many, I always feel that I should buy local, and I never try the international ones such as you tasted this time. Very interesting!!

Iris Flavia said...

OH! And I just wrote I skipped wine for water. I´m German, does that count as excuse?

Soooo good to see you all together like that! Like we lived a normal life again!
Minus the shooting. A customer of mine went to your country and that happened (years ago), too. Here you have to store your weapons away. Smart or dumb, I have no idea (you cannot say... "oh, wait, need to get the keys to unlock... blablabla...". wish we all could be nice and normal).

OK. The olives did their job - I´m officially hungry now!

The sweetest last pic, oh, you make my day! xx

Valerie-Jael said...

Sounds like a great evening together - meeting up, lots of wine to try, and nice snacks and desserts. Cheers! Hugs, Valerie

DUTA said...

I must admit it's all "greek to me" (wines, that is). I am much better on the 'grapes' topic. However, I've enjoyed reading your post and learn a few things, especially as it is accompanied by great photos of friends and food.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Jeanie

I enjoy your Cork Popper parties, what fun tasting the international wines paired with some yummy foods. Take care, have a great week!

Mae Travels said...

Your group always sounds like so much fun! This time you seem to be confirming our current rule: don't bother with a wine under $10. That seems to have held up for most of your reviews.

best...mae at naefood.blogspot.com

Pamela said...

What a great get together! It looks so normal. Every time I read about them I wish I could join.

Penny from Enjoying The Simple Things said...

So glad you guys are able to get together again! Fun post.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Your wine drinking friends sound like so much fun. I do miss having a glass of wine - doesn't go with my meds. I liked having a glass with dinner occasionally. Glad you enjoyed your group - stay healthy and safe!

Jenny Woolf said...

So glad you could meet! Spanokopita (or however you spell it) is one of my alltime favourite snacks, but i like the big wodges that make a meal! I have often tried to make it myself, but the results are NEVER to my liking, so I always have to buy. I'm slightly surprised Oyster Bay didn't hold up. Everyone has different tastes, but it's a reliable favourite with us and also with extended family, so I almost wonder if that might just have been a bad bottle....? but I don't know and I am certainly not knowledgable about wine. :)

David M. Gascoigne, said...

Now here's a classic case of different tastes in wine. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc is one of our favourites and my daughter would drive over mountains to get to it. We must be cursed with inadequate taste buds!

Linda @ Life and Linda said...

Such a fun group. Love this idea of getting together and drinking wine. Good snacks, good company and wine. Merry Christmas Jeanie.

Sandra at Maison De Jardin said...

Jeanie, it looks like a good time was had by all. I always enjoy your posts about this fun group. I appreciate the thoughts on the wine. I will keep them in mind. Have you all ever done a meeting about Rose? I have become smitten with it.

Ricki Treleaven said...

I love this group, and who knew that Kosovo produces delicious wine?

Jemma@athomewithjemma said...

Greetings Jeanie!
Good wine, good food, fun friends and the spirit of the season most certainly makes for a lovely gathering.
So good to see you and your warm and delightful smile.
The season of fellowship is here!
Jemma

Lowcarb team member said...

What a happy post.
So pleased you could all get-together and taste the wine, enjoy the food and importantly enjoy each others company.

Brilliant :)

All the best Jan

Sandra Cox said...

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful day.

Salty Pumpkin Studio said...

Very interesting post! The Kosovo wine is noted. The humor made me laugh. Good to know about the drop test. lol. Those were the days.

Amy at Ms. Toody Goo Shoes said...

This is my first Cork Popper party with you, and I quite enjoyed it! Poor Dick, hope he didn't feel too badly about all the negative comments!

Joyful said...

I always enjoy the food and wine vicariously through your parties.

gigi-hawaii said...

Although I don't drink alcohol, this looked like a splendid party. Love the camaraderie and the holiday spirit!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Oh my gosh, this post was full of nuggets of humor! I can feel the levity of being able to celebrate and see friends that you barely saw before! Yay for vaccines!! I will have to look for that 2nd Sav Blanc (but not the pee tasting one!! Ha!!).

The school shooting was so horrible and the behavior of the parents was particularly deplorable so I am glad they are being charged. What will it take for things to change in our nation? It’s terrifying to think of as our kids get older and approach school age.

Divers and Sundry said...

I recognize the Layer Cake brand from grocery stores but not the others. Like you, I prefer the heartier reds, but I am the only wine drinker here and can't finish a bottle before it goes bad. A club would work better for me lol And the food looks tasty :)

The death of Stephen Sondheim is a great loss. I have so much of his music in my memories.

Nancy said...

This is my kind of gathering! It sure is nice to be able to gather again! Thank goodness for vaccines!
Here’s to more fun gatherings!
~Nancy

Judy at GoldCountryCottage said...

Jeanie, I'm not much of a wine drinker but the food sure looks good. The good times you all have is the most important thing. So sad about the school shooting. Is it very close to you. Something needs to be done but the people that need to do it won't!!..Happy Wednesday..xxoJudy

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I think someone needs to start a Cork Poppers group around here.

BTW, my nephew owns a lovely wine shop in Waco, Tx (The Wine Shoppe) with all sorts of interesting (and generally rather inexpensive) natural wines. You might do that as a theme...

The French Hutch said...

I would drive over pot holes or for miles to join a group of friends too! Looks like a fun time and I had to laugh at some of the comments about the wine. Jim would rally fit in here and would he ever tell you what he thinks about his wine. He's the wine lover here, me not so much. The appetizers and sweet treat sounds perfect for an evening like this. Glad you are enjoying seeing this group again Jeanie..........

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Admittedly, I would be at a loss for descriptive terms in a wine aficionados gathering, Jeanie. We do enjoy wine with dinner but my palate is not as refined as you and your friends. That said, your gatherings looks like great fun with friends and food and conversation and how wonderful to get together during this merry season.

Victoria Zigler said...

Sounds like you guys had an awesome time together.

thepaintedapron.com said...

Such a fun group and gathering! I am a chardonnay girl all the way! How often do the Cork Poppers meet? Appetizers and chocolate are perfect!
Jenna

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, how nice to be back together again. I enjoy reading the comments on each wine. I would never give up apps and desserts…the best part of a meal.

Bonnie said...

Glad you could gather again and fun that your members are truthful.
So often the food paired with the right wine makes all the difference.

Betty said...

Theres no doubt the friendship was what made the corks really pop in this post, you had a lot of fun :)

Lisbeth said...

Looks absolutely fantastic with food and wine. We used to have a lot of wine tastings including three course dinners. Alas, just a memory now.
You have some of my favourite wines and grapes. A SB from New Zealand is nothing but the best.

Carola Bartz said...

This is a wonderful thing to do with friends and I bet the friendship is better than the best wine. I do like the Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region, but of course not all of them are equal. I've begun to like Pinot Noir more than I used to, we have some excellent ones her in our area, but all in all I'm more into the Zinfandel which is my favorite grape. It's good to see that Kosovo is exporting its wine - I still know their wine under the Yugoslavia label, before the terrible war.

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Your Cork Poppers sound like a wonderful, convivial, group! I don't know much about wine, but recognise the Oyster Bay brand and the sauvignon blanc and pinot noir grapes are both popular here. Pinot grigio and pinot noir are both favourites of mine - though a good malbec or shiraz is always welcome too. And meths, eau de cologne etc...

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