Tag Archive | evening with friends

Sparkling Wine Tasting Party

Last night Jon and I hosted a Sparkling Wine Tasting party at our house.  I love sparkling wines, and I think they are under-appreciated.  I mean, they are fun, with the tickle on your lips and nose, refreshing, perfect for celebrating or even just relaxing on the deck, and they go well with just about any food.  They have become known for just being the New Year’s and wedding toast wines, but that’s really not fair!  So let’s change that!

Flutes at the Ready

Flutes at the Ready

I asked each couple to bring one wine, and gave some suggestions for categories to select from.  Then I asked each couple to check back in with me after they made their pick so I could let the rest of the group know.  That way, we wouldn’t end up with a whole pile of Prosecco.  Beyond that, brand and price point were up to the guests.  Here’s what we ended up with (left to right in the photo):

  • Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV
  • Santo Moscato D’Asti NV
  • Zenas Sparkling Riesling 1X
  • Blason de Bourgogne Crémant NV (Trader Joe’s Exclusive)
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe 2004
  • Montelliana Prosecco Treviso Extra-Dry
  • Gaetano D’Aquino Asti NV
  • Poema Cava Brut NV
The Sparkling Wine Lineup - The good, the good and the corked...

The Sparkling Wine Lineup – The good, the good and the corked…

We didn’t do a blind tasting this time, as I thought it would be too difficult to figure out the differences between a Spanish sparkling wine and a California sparkling wine without knowing what it was.  Besides, as most of the guests hadn’t done much sparkling wine tasting, they were unlikely to be biased by the price points of the wines or the regions where they were made.  (If you want to read about the blind wine tasting party that we hosted last year, you can find that here.)

We popped all the wines and went to work sampling and tasting.  Meanwhile, Jon grilled up the teriyaki turkey burgers that I made, because wine as classy as sparkling wine deserves a fancy meal!  Remember I said that sparkling wine pairs with just about everything?  They were fantastic with our burgers, accompanied by 7 layer dip and chips, fruit salad, a veggie tray and Greek salad – just to give the evening the right amount of international influence!

Here are my limited notes (I paid more attention to socializing than I did to evaluating the wines).

  • Scharffenberger Brut Excellence NV – dry yeast, very nice
  • Santo Moscato D’Asti NV – very sweet, apricot
  • Zenas Sparkling Riesling 1X – sadly, corked
  • Blason de Bourgogne Crémant NV (Trader Joe’s Exclusive) – Dry, yeast.  Very good.
  • Domaine Ste. Michelle Luxe 2004 – decent, dry – like the Blanc de Noir by Ste. Michelle better
  • Montelliana Prosecco Treviso Extra-Dry – semi-sweet
  • Gaetano D’Aquino Asti NV – Creamy, with a Pineapple/Papaya Finish
  • Poema Cava Brut NV – very slight green apple flavor with bread
Tasting Sheets

Tasting Sheets

Other than the corked bottle of Zenas (an Oregon producer), I was pleased with all of these wines.  I’m not sure what happened there – I know it was purchased at the winery about 4 years ago – but I’m sure it wasn’t stored optimally either (I guess that’s a lesson for us -let’s enjoy them now!)  Most of the sparkling wines last night were priced at $10 or below, and I think one or two was even less than $5!  There weren’t any of them that I would turn down or not purchase.  Overall, a great night where we got to try some new wines.

Although we didn’t have an official winner’s list, we did tally everybody’s top 3 and the unofficial winners were the Santo Moscato D’Asti, the Montelliana Prosecco, and the Blason de Bourgogne Crémant (if I remember correctly).  The Poema Cava got an honorable mention.  Seems by the rankings that I have friends who love a sweet wine, as the Moscato D’Asti was by far the sweetest of the bunch!

All in all, I think everybody had a great time, and the opportunity to expand their horizons a bit and try some new wines.  I got to spend a wonderful evening with friends.  What better evening is there?


La fête des rois

Last Friday, Jon and I had some friends over for La fête des rois.  The idea for the party started with a conversation with my friend Katie on our last 10 mile walk.  Katie took French in high school and La fête des rois was part of the curriculum.  I had never heard of it…  She told me that it was the Feast of Kings, which occurred when the three wise men arrived after the birth of Christ.  And then I knew what she was talking about – only I knew it as Epiphany.

La fête des rois is a traditional party where the guests each receive a piece of the galette des rois, a cake also know as Wise Men Cake or 3 Magi cake.  The cake is baked with a favor baked into one piece of the cake, either a bean, a small coin, or a ceramic baby Jesus.  The cake is divided into enough pieces for each person present, plus one extra for the first poor person who happens by.  The pieces are passed out by the youngest person at the party (thanks Kiera!), and getting the piece with the favor tucked inside is considered very lucky.  That person gets to be the king or queen for a day.

Katie’s mother-in-law was kind enough to bake our galette des rois, and it was delicious!  It was light and flaky, like an almond filled croissant!  Everybody really enjoyed it.

We also had a Yankee Swap gift exchange – this isn’t part of the French tradition, but it just seemed like fun.  To be in on the gift exchange, you had to bring a gift that you found on clearance for $5 or less.  Gifts could be stolen three times, and then the first person to choose a gift got to swap for any unfrozen gift at the end.

And I was certainly lucky that evening!  I got the favor in the galette des rois (we used a shell), and I also drew the first pick at the gift exchange, so I got to have the last turn and a chance at the last swap too!  I scored a nice big candle in a spiced apple scent, along with 3 peanut butter chocolate Santas!  I had to hide the Santas from Jon, otherwise I wouldn’t have even gotten a bite!  To be honest though, I think the girls rigged it so I won.

It was a great party, and we had a fabulous time – it is always so nice to get together with friends.  And since I got to be queen for the day, part of the tradition is that I have to throw the party again next year!