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Store pops the cork on fine wines
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If you've ever shunned the wine menu at restaurants - with its list of hard-to-pronounce names and even more confusing descriptions - for fear of appearing uncultured, thirst no more. The solution to your wine quandary has just opened its doors in Porterdale. CorkPoppers, located in the Porterdale Mill Lofts, offers a wide selection of wines appealing both to wine novices and more-studied connoisseurs. "When it comes to wine, there's nothing like having a good glass of wine with plenty of food and plenty of laughter," said Marie Carter, who along with her sisters Rebecca Williams and Tracy Torain own and operate CorkPoppers. Williams, who recently received her certification from the internationally recognized Wine & Spirits Education Trust, said she became interested in wines after running a restaurant in Long Island with her husband. The subtle way a wine can enhance a meal, bringing out a greater appreciation for the food as well as stimulating good conversation, is what Williams said drew her and her sisters to the wine business. Some of the wine labels for sale at CorkPoppers, such as Columbia Crest, Yellow Tail and Blackstone, will be familiar to most. Some of the shop's specialty wines, such as an Argentinean malbec, might be more unfamiliar. CorkPoppers also carries a variety of merlots, cabernet sauvignons and pinot grigios, as well as malbec. The shop buys its wines from vineyards all over the country and the world, including vineyards in New Zealand, South Africa, Chile and France, among others. In response to comments from customers, Williams said the shop has begun stocking a greater amount of summer wines, which are known for their sweet and crisp taste, making them ideal for sipping outside on the back porch during a warm evening. If CorkPoppers does not carry a desired brand, Williams said the shop will gladly order it. "We want people to feel that this is their neighborhood store," Williams said. CorkPoppers also offers a wide range of prices, with some of the more common labels beginning at $9 and going on up to $30. The most expensive wine for sale is a $187 bottle of Don Perignon. To assist in the food and wine education process, helpful placards are set up around the store, recommending the paring of certain wines with certain foods (such as the pairing of pinot noir with lamb, chicken, tuna or filet mignon). Ratings from wine experts are also provided. Pending approval from the City of Porterdale, CorkPoppers will soon offer wine tastings and wine classes. Williams said the shop hopes to hold its first one in July, when CorkPoppers has its grand opening. "People are interested in becoming more educated about wine," Williams said of the feedback she has received from the community. Williams said there will likely be a small fee for the wine tastings, which will include four to six wines as well as cheese and crackers to encourage the pairing of food with wine. "We would like to get to the point where we have wine tastings on a weekly basis," Williams said. The wine classes will go more in depth than the wine tastings, Williams said, and will begin with the basics such as what is the difference between a red wine and a white wine, how wine is made and a more detailed analysis of why certain foods go with certain wines. "If you learn how to taste properly, you can really develop a different appreciation (for wine) when you are able to pull out the flavors," Williams said. Gift baskets, imported beers, wine stoppers and hand-crafted wine glass charms are also for sale at CorkPoppers.