Castillo de Perelada Brut Cava

I had a great pro bono success at work yesterday.  LM and I represented to absolutely adorable Tibetan kids whose parents (who have long resisted Chinese rule over Tibet) were arrested in Tibet by the Chinese government after pictures were taken of the children protesting outside the Los Angeles and San Franscico Chinese embassies during the 2008 Olympic torch relay (the kids have been in the U.S. on student visas and live with their aunt and uncle).  No one had heard from the children’s parents since their arrest, and there was no way to know if they were even still alive, leaving the children potentially orphaned.  Well, yesterday LM and I learned that our efforts to obtain Permanent Residence status for the children were successful.  Hooray!!!!

If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is…. enter the Castillo Perelada Brut Cava.

Made from the traditional, indigenous Cava grape varieties – Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo – this is the Cava that Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, serves at all official state functions.  With persistent, almost aggressive bubbles (J’s glass had what looked like a tiny bubble twister going in his glass for several minutes) and a nice citrusy (mandarin oranges rather than lemon, grapefruit or lime) flavor, this is a good, although not great, sparkling wine.  It is pleasant and easy to drink, but it lacks that bread dough aroma and flavor that I love so much in both Champagne and, in fact, the Gran Sarao Brut Cava I tasted earlier this week.  That said, it’s certainly worth a try and would be a great sparkler to have on hand for impromptu celebrations like the one J and I had last night!  You can find it at K&L Wine Merchants for $9.99/bottle.

3.5 corks popped….


By Popular Demand….

Ask, dear readers, and you shall receive!  Many of you have requested the ability to print CorkPopper posts (presumably because you are preparing CorkPopper recipes, although no one has yet posted a comment about doing so…. come on, people!!), and I FINALLY figured out how to do it.  I am no web programmer, believe me, so this was a feat of nearly monumental proportions (ok, maybe not, but I’m still pretty proud of myself).  Now, when viewing an individual post (it won’t show up if you’re just on the CorkPopper homepage), there will be a cute little “print” icon at the end of the post, so print away! 

Don’t feel the need to print every review and recipe, however, as a CorkPopper Cookbook is in the works for later this year… stay tuned!!!



A Few Thoughts on Love and Wine…..

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and although I don’t buy into the heart-covered mass marketing campaign that the holiday has become,* I am a hopeless romantic at heart.  So, in the true spirit of the day, here are a few great quotes for all you (wine) lovers out there….

Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common-sense…  Helen Rowland
Bring water, bring wine, boy! Bring flowering garlands to me! Yes, bring them, so that I may try a bout with love…  Anacreon c. 570 – c. 480 B.C.
In water one sees one’s own face; But in wine, one beholds the heart of another…  An old Frech proverb
May our love be like good wine, grow stronger as it grows older… Old English Toast
Where there is no wine there is no love… Euripides
We are all mortal until the first kiss and the second glass of wine…. Eduardo Galeano
Your words are my food, your breath my wine. You are everything to me… Sarah Bernhardt
What I do and what I dream include thee, as the wine must taste of its own grapes…  Elizabeth Barret Browning
When you came, you were like red wine and honey, and the taste of you burnt my mouth with its sweetness…  Amy Lowell
How much better is thy love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than all kinds of spices… Song of Solomon 4:10
Love is like wine. To sip is fine, but to empty the bottle is a headache… Julio Iglesias
What though youth gave love and roses, Age still leaves us friends and wine… Thomas Moore
A sweetheart is a bottle of wine, a wife is a wine bottle… Charles Baudelaire
Age is just a number. It’s totally irrelevant unless, of course, you happen to be a bottle of wine… Joan Collins
A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover…. Clifton Paul Fadiman
Beauty is worse than wine, it intoxicates both the holder and beholder… Aldous Huxley
Wine makes a man more pleased with himself; I do not say it makes him more pleasing to others… Samuel Johnson
Men are like wine – some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age… Pope John XXIII
Wine comes in at the mouth And love comes in at the eye; That’s all we shall know for truth Before we grow old and die… William Butler Yeats
Wine gives courage and makes men more apt for passion… Ovid 17AD
Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!!

* Warning: Soap Box Moment – Contrary to what the world’s confectioners, florists, and greeting card manufacturers would like you to believe, a true celebration of Valentine’s Day does not require extravagant gifts or a mad rush to the Valentine’s Day section of a local store just before closing time. On the contrary, the best Valentine’s Day is one that is unique to a particular couple and focuses on the personal – a small yet thoughtful gift instead of a merely expensive one, time together rather than a generic greeting card, an intimate home-cooked meal rather than an overpriced dinner with dozens of strangers….  So go ahead and walk right past that greeting card aisle at the grocery store (she doesn’t care what Hallmark thinks of her; she cares what you think of her), navigate away from that florist webpage (she doesn’t want a stupid stuffed bear, and you’re spending way too much on red roses and baby’s breath), and put that heart-shaped box of chocolates back on the shelf (she’s barely a month in to her New Year’s resolution to lose those last five pounds, and chocolate will not help).  At a loss for what to do in the absence of the pre-packaged and heart-shaped?  Write her a love letter – by hand. Surprise her with a romantic meal at home, complete with candles and a bottle of her favorite wine.  Do something together during the day that you’ve both wanted to do but haven’t had time/opportunity.  Just think.  Ok.  Stepping down off the soap box now….  🙂

Gran Sarao Brut Cava

 Come on, you know the song…. 

Tiny bubbles (tiny bubbles)
In the wine (in the wine)
Make me happy (make me happy)
Make me feel fine (make me feel fine)

I don’t know what Don Ho was drinking when he sang that song, but it may very well have been the Gran Sarao Brut Cava.  Made from a blend of Xarel-lo, Parellada, Macabeo and Chardonnay grapes, this fun sparkler has really nice notes of fresh bread dough, green apples and wet limestone.  And at just $9.99/bottle, there’s no reason not to see if those tiny bubbles make you sing.

4 corks popped…



Segura Viudas Brut Reserva

I know what you’re thinking.  Sparkling wine is just for special events and isn’t really meant to be paired with food, right?  Wrong.  While bubbly (especially in a beautiful Champagne flute) is perfect for that touching toast and can easily be had on its own, sparkling wine is, indeed, a remarkable beverage to pair with all kinds of food, even beyond the standard brunch fare. 

Take J’s and my Monday night meal this week, for example.  We used the leftover chicken from last week’s CorkPopper dinner in our chicken and mozzarella panini and paired it with the Segura Viudas Brut Reserva ($8.99/bottle at  Yum.

Made from a blend of Macabeo, Parellada and Xarel-lo grapes, this dry sparkling wine has a gentle effervescence and nice notes of delicate dried apple and minerals on the palate.  It has a great (yet not overwhelming) creamy texture from being fermented in the bottle and lingers nicely on the tongue. 

Combined with the tangy and sweet lemon and onion sauce on our chicken and the creaminess of the melted mozzarella, you’ve got yourself an excellent pairing.  Now, isn’t that reason to celebrate?

3.5 corks popped…



Week 24: Spanish Cava

When I developed the CorkPopper Calendar last August, I was sure not only to schedule the most important wine-producing countries during long months but also to ensure that certain weeks would focus on certain special wines.  Thus, the last week of December was dedicated to French sparkling wines (in order to celebrate New Year’s Eve), and this week stars Spain’s famous sparkler, Cava (in order to coincide with Valentine’s Day*).

Cava is a type of Spanish sparkling wine that is most commonly found in the Catalonia region just southwest of Barcelona, although under Spanish DO laws, it can be produced in any of six different regions.  These same laws require that Cava be produced using the champagne method and must be made using a combination of Macabeo, Parellada, Xarello, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and/or Subirat grapes.  More Cava is made than any other sparkling wine in the world, and tens of millions of cases are distributed all over the world every year.

Cava comes in varying levels of dryness, much like other sparkling wines, and is usually easily recognized by its slight rubbery aroma (which sounds horrible but, in a good Cava at least, is not reflected in the palate).  I’ll be tasting three different Cavas this week, all of which are available for under $10/bottle.  Woohoo!!!

First, is a Segura Viudas Brut Reserva, which earned 90 points from Wine & Spirits and is available at for just $8.99/bottle.

Second, we have a Gran Sarao Brut Cava Penedes, which is a K&L Wine Merchants Top Pick and is available for just $9.99/bottle.

Finally, we have a Castillo de Perelada Brut Cava, which is also available over at K&L for just $9.99/bottle.  This Cava is apparently what the King of Spain, Juan Carlos I, serves at all official state functions.  I’d say that’s quite a recommendation.



* While I don’t entirely buy into consumer-focused holidays such as Valentine’s Day (J and I will be doing something special together rather than spending massive amounts of money on gifts), I never pass up an opportunity to celebrate with a fun bottle of bubbly.  

Calling All Canadian Wine Fans!!! CorkPopper Needs You!!!

As the final countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver begins (set your DVRs and hope for snow in B.C.!!), so, too, does the countdown to CorkPopper’s month-long odyssey through the world of Canadian wines.  And CorkPopper needs YOU, dear readers, to help it put Canada on the proverbial wine map!! 
So, post a comment or send an email to with your recommendations for Canadian Pinot Gris, white blends, Pinot Noir, or red blends.  Just remember that all wines must be available for purchase on the Internet and under $25/bottle.