Today's post is sort of like the old Oprah Christmas shows, only none of you are going to find the things I list here under your seat. As the holidays pass by in a blur I am the type that genuinely gets very excited for old traditions, new treats, and general good cheer. While thinking about things I wanted to write about on the 'ole blog, the list just kept growing. So see this as a wish list, or a recommendation list - whichever is least offensive to your sensibilities and join me in enjoying the next couple of weeks simply because it is a fun thing to do:
1) Sparkling rosé - It's fun, it's festive, and it is so damn good. Sparkling rosés come in all price ranges and instantly liven up a moment. They do well as aperitifs or as food accompaniments to early courses. You can find them made from Pinot Noir in California and Burgundy, or from grapes of Cava (Trepat and Garnacha) by going Spanish. I recommend, as an inexpensive option, the Freixnet Cordon Rosado Cava NV. The bright citrus flavors blend with red berry fruitiness, and ends dry for a tasty treat.
2) Saving for special bottles - I think it is important to find wines that you can drink on a regular basis without denting your grocery budget. I think it is also important to find producers you love, and splurge on their stuff occassionally for a dinner party, or special night at home. But lately I have also found it very exciting to set your eyes on a prize and save for it. I'm talking scouting for a 10th anniversary wine, or 21st birthday wine (don't waste it on the youth themselves, however!!) Online auctions offer some well-aged prizeworthy wines, that can be had at great prices (if you skip the La Tache). One auction that is running through the holidays is set to benefit a family in New York whose daughter has gone missing. Check out the details here.
3) Molasses Spice Cookies - I mean it. I have deep cravings for these chewy morsels, but have made myself only bake them (by the dozen) during December. I love the Cook's Illustrated recipe as they come out chewy and spicy - but I'll take them anyway I can get them.
4) Pinot Noir - There is something ethereal about Pinot Noir that just makes me a bit crazy for it. It seems elegant, and at the dinner table it is truly versatile. This is a must with holiday dinner parties, as dishes range from sweet to spicy, from rich to light, and they tend to get all jumbled into family style servings. The wonderful thing about Pinot is that it has such unique expressions depending on where it is from and how it is grown and handled in the cellar. A recent bargain (and alternate location to the usual) that I came across is The Crossings 2009 Pinot Noir Marlborough. This New Zealand Pinot is light and bright, with cherry, a bit of toasty wood, some potpurri spice and a brisk cranberry finish. It just seems Christmasy, and at under $20 is a bargain.
5) Kiki and Coco In Paris - I know, a children's book? But at my age I have several little girls to buy Christmas gifts for, and this book is the rare find that suits them all. It is a beautiful work of photography, with a story that has heart. I know you don't expect to find random book suggestions on The Vino File, but if you are buying gifts for a girl under 8, this is a sure bet.
6) Decorating with real greenery - I grew up in Oregon and can vouch that if you are worried about sustainability you do have options. Yes, there are large monocultured strip wastes of trees, but many are now farming organically, and blending their lots into established forests which are protected by their practices. And bringing in fresh boughs, wreaths, and trees makes a house warm and smell great. So unless you have a pine allergy, skimp on the gifts if you must and fill your house with fresh pine this December.
A little list of the things I like, the things that make my December a bit brighter. I wish you and yours a warm and joyfully holiday season as well.