Mix a little (OK, a lot) of wine, a little food, 14 people who haven't seen each other in awhile and you end up with a delightfully chaotic and fun day. Yes, it's the recipe for a Cork Poppers gathering, this time tasting the wines of South America!
Our gathering started with a lot of conversation, even before the first sip! Then it was on to the wines, three whites and five reds.
My longtime friend and house guest, Suzanne, was here from Canada and joined in. Everyone had to check out her wine before we started!
While we were setting up, Anne prepared her appetizer -- a cream cheese and pesto Christmas tree with walnuts, cranberries and Parmesan "snow." Her pesto is the best and this was terrific on anything upon which it was spread. And super easy, too!
This was the appetizer table!
Our first offering (from me!) was a white, Zolo Torrentes 2021 from Mendoza, Argentina.
The Torrentes is a white grape and the wine is similar to a Pinot Grigio or a Sauvignon Blanc. It has a long and peppery finish with (so they say) notes of jasmine. (I can never tell!) Clayton nailed it when he said "We should have his with an omelet in the morning!" Resident "white" expert Cheryl said, "I like this. I wasn't sure at first, but the long finish did it."
This was purchased at a local wine store for $16.99. I would buy it again for taste but that's higher than I usually go apart from a special occasion.
Next we had another Torrentes grape in Zuccardi Series A 2020, also from Argentina from Dick and Cheryl.
Everyone agreed this wine (same grape and region, different vintage and vintner) tasted completely different from the first. "It smells like Mike's mom's permanent," Barb said. Roger preferred the first better, where as Rick preferred this one. Price on this was "about $18" at a local wine shop.
We wrapped up the whites with another from Dick and Cheryl, Goutte d'Argent 2019 Sauvignon Blanc from Chile.
What made this unique is that they ferment this in sake yeast and the flavor was very unique. It is the only non-Japanese vineyard to do this. Dick (who brought it) said it was (smell, I think. I hope) a little like cat pee and acknowledged "It's different." Rick said "You've got to get used to it, it's better after the first taste" and Anne said she liked it.
This was "about $20." Kate and Suzanne said this and the Zolo (the first one) were their favorites of the whites, both being red drinkers.
Anne and Clayton were next with a 2021 Monjita Negras Merlot from Argentine. Barb, Clayton, Kate, and Rick all liked it, while Mike S. said it was the "wine equivalent of light beer." It was part of their wine club selections so no price.
Suzanne offered up Armando 2021 from La Posta Bonarda in Mendoza, Argentina. Barb called it great and Clayton liked the "little spice in it." Perhaps its biggest fan was Roger who not only said that throughout the tasting (the red by which he compared the others) and several days later asked me again the name of it so that he could hunt it down. Suzanne bought this one for $18.95 in Canada, so good luck!
Kate served up DeMartino Estate Carmenere 2018 from Chile. (This was also Mike M's offering, possibly the first time we've had a duplicate.) Carmanere is the premiere grape of Chile and only grown there. It was a grape thought to be extinct in France but it was found in Chile and revived. Roger and Suzanne liked it and someone noted that 2018 was a good year for any red. It was $12.99 at the local wine shop.
Roger offered Apaltagua Reserve Carmanere 2020 next. Dick said it was definitely worth buying and cellaring but Rog said he was "a little disappointed in this. I don't see much difference between this and the others."
Bob offered Uno 1 from Anegal Winery in Mendoza Argentina. It is 100 percent Malbec, another grape that came from France. Barb and Bob both liked it and Roger commented on the "phenomenal label." I don't have a price on this one.
After that it was on to the appetizers and desserts. We stopped doing dinners post-Covid and pretty much everyone enjoys the appetizers better. It's a lot easier set-up, for one thing. And just as tasty!
|Clockwise from top left: Overview, Nanaimo bars, South of the Border Confetti dip, table overview, crudite tray, florentines/maple cookies and Argentinian dulce de Leche shortbread sandwiches|
Then it was time for a group photo -- first all of us...
...and then one with me and longtime friend Suzanne.
I asked Kate if I could bring her South of the Border dip (aka Mississippi Caviar), since she was bringing cookies. Here's the recipe the way I made it! You can adjust quantities to add more or less of your favorites!
South of the Border Party Dip
- 1 can of white corn (14 oz) or frozen corn.
- 2 avocados in pieces
- 1 can black beans (or black-eyes peas or whatever)
- 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained well
- 1 can drained chiles
- red/yellow/orange pepper mix (I used about half of a two large ones)
- 1 1/2 bunches of sliced green onions and stems
- Parsley or cilantro
- Juice of one or two lemons or limes (make sure to cover the avocado)
- LOADS of cumin
- Salt/pepper to taste
Chili-lime seasoning if you have it. (Trader Joe's)
As needed, Kraft Zesty Italian fat free dressing to moisten. (I probably used less than 1/8 cup -- do it by eye and taste. You can also use other dressings. This was recommended and it was good but if I could have found more of a Tex-Mex flavor I would have used that.)
Mix it all together and serve with chips. I used the Tostitos Scoops, which hold it well.