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MENU: Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting with Friends

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Looking for a fun thing to do with friends? Marty, Laurie and Beth have gathered together a great list of wines to share plus an easy menu to quickly pull together. The inspiration and recipes came to us from our friends Meghan Carey and Pat Howell.



Roger and Christopher Moeux, “Cuvée des Lys,” Sancerre, Rosé, 2011 (Marty’s choice): $21.99

While I love Sancerre, often I find rosé Sancerre (made from Pinot Noir) to be more earthy than what I want from rosé, and then there is the price! This one delivers. It has rich fruit flavors of apricot, peach and bright cherry, with a beautifully tart, minerally finish. Make one of the cheeses you pick up for this tasting is a Crottin de Chavignol, because that is the village from which this wine comes. The crisp acidity will match nicely with the tanginess of the Chavignol.

Castillo Perelada Cava Brut Rosado NV (Beth’s choice): $11.99

A winner when we tasted it.  This cava is a gorgeous cranberry color and in the glass has a lot of small bubbles.  Made from a blend of Trepat(60%), Monastrell (20%) and Pinot Noir (20%), it has a fruity nose with a floral underlay.  It is very well-balanced, rich and fruity – hints of a soft, flavorful, non-astringent rhubarb.  Absolutely yummy, this is a wonderful cava for regular drinking.

Perelada Garnatxa Blanca 2011 (Beth’s choice): $11.99

This old-vine (50-60 year-old vines) wine from the northeastern coast of Spain is made with 100% Garnatxa Blanca (white Grenache) grapes.  It is pale yellow in the glass with a floral, fruity nose and a hint of something briny.  In the mouth it is lively, fresh and intense.  It is fruity on entry and has a long, dry, smooth finish.  It is full-bodied with lots of complexity.  Delicious!

Kingston Family Vineyards Tobiano Pinot Noir 2008 (Laurie’s choice): $19.99

This Pinot Noir sang to us for many reasons – it is a fruity, full-bodied pinot. It’s all about cherries, blueberries, a little vanilla and a hint of tobacco. Its character is smooth and velvety with a pleasurable soft tannic activity going on. Drink this one now – the Kingston Family only releases their vintages when they’re ready for you. (N.B.—Courtney Kingston will be guiding at tasting of their wines for us this fall.)

Chateau Du Trignon Rasteau 2007  (Laurie’s choice): $19.99

We only pick ‘em when we love ‘em and this one hit that note. This wine is a traditional Cotes-du-Rhone in locale and estate. It is a blend of 55% Grenache and 45% Mourvedre. Since it is given extensive skin contact during fermentation this wine exhibits the flavors and aromas of Herbs de Provence, blackberries, and just the right spice and touch of licorice. We loved this wine’s velvety tannins. Rasteau 2007 is robust and in its prime.


  • Charcuterie Plate: assorted dried salamis, thinly sliced
  • Cheeses: Aged Gouda (cow), Harbison by Jasper Hill (cow), Manchego (sheep)
  • Goat Cheese Appetizer (recipe below)
  • Greens and Leek Cake (recipe below)

Goat Cheese Appetizer

6-8 oz. plain goat cheese
1/2 cup good olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped, pitted calamata olives
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (I like the soft ones not in oil)
1/2 tsp. dried OR 1 tsp. fresh rosemary and thyme
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
ground black pepper
1 T. chopped fresh basil * (add just before serving)

Crumble goat cheese on platter. Crush or chop garlic in olive oil; add remaining seasonings to olive oil. Let stand (if you have time) for an hour, then pour over goat cheese. Top and mix with olives and sun dried tomatoes.

*Just before serving, add fresh basil. Serve with crusty French bread or Carr’s water crackers.

Greens and Leek Cake

This cake is a cross between a custard and a frittata. It’s best served at room temperature, bake it a few hours ahead of serving

2 lbs. fresh greens (spinach, chard, mustard, turnip or beet), triple washed
2 medium leeks, triple washed
2 T. butter
salt and pepper
fresh nutmeg
2 cups whole milk
6 large eggs
pinch of cayenne

Chop greens and leeks into thin ribbons. Melt butter in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender but still green, about 5 minutes.

Turn up the heat and grate a little nutmeg over the leeks. Add the greens on top in layers, sprinkling each layer with a little salt. Cover tightly and cook until greens are just wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Turn contents of pot (including cooking juices) onto a platter and let cool.

Preheat oven to 400. When the greens mixture is cool, taste for seasoning and adjust (should be highly seasoned). In a food processor, puree the cooked vegetables with the milk and eggs in batches, adding a pinch of cayenne and any remaining cooking juices.

Pour green batter into a buttered baking dish or 9 to 10-inch deep-dish pie pan. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes, or when knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving.