Time to consider what to serve during coming holidays

December 2, 2013

Still stuffed by stuffing? Time to start thinking about Chanukah, Christmas and New Year's celebratory sippers. Some of these may require an immediate trip to your supplier. So after reading the entire paper, including schedules and ads, visit your well developed friend at your favorite store. If you aren’t getting the service you require vote with your feet. Please keep in mind, specific requests are extra service and require a small additional charge. Also, to quote an old tune, "You can’t always get what you want, ta da ta da ta da” If you are unable to fill in the ta das, be sure to bring your ID.

Hate to keep beating this Missouri mule, but my all time dependable sparkler priced under $46 is still Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin NV (yellow label). Holiday ideas for the winos who think they have it all. Try using a carrier cork so one may hang the bottle over one’s arm, keeping it fresh. Quirky, but a conversation starter, much better than “What’s your sign?” If you have a list of people who seem to have everything and love Champagne, try this site for some unique ideas. And no, I don’t own shares: The scroll buttons are on the right-hand side.

If red meat is your holiday treat and you are tired of being ripped off by the Napa wine banditos, try searching out some Justin Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 for $20. Tanzer says 88 points. I disagree because I add two price points. Further there are halves available under $15. A novel idea for brisket eaters is a slow cooker spicy brisket with Texas caviar. This Cabernet is perfect!! Another traditional dish variation would be honey and lemon glazed chicken. My glaze recipe adds a quarter cup dark honey, two tablespoons lemon juice, and two tablespoons soy sauce. I also stuff the cavity with aromatic herbs, cut lemons and garlic cloves. Just take a head of garlic and cut it into halves; no need to peel. When finished, the garlic is a delightful spread for toast or croutons. Goes with the Gewurzt that follows.

Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer 2011 Alsace is a quintessential turkey and traditional sides wine. There is no need to pay up for the single-vineyard or locale designees. This 92-point, $22 lovely, has most of the attributes of a great food wine. I’ve yet to find a person who claims, ”I don’t like Gewurzt,” who after trying it with food such as turkey, goose, spicy or wursts with kraut, doesn’t become a convert. The Marcel Deiss 2010 which was reviewed in a recent issue of Wine Spectator will be more difficult to find, but worth the search; 93 points, under $33.

Mackerel snappers and Italians, enjoy the feast of seven fishes on Christmas Eve. BTW there is no set fish menu, just choose seven you like. I eschew the traditional baccala and fried eel.

Regardless how long I soak salt cod, I can never find wine to accompany, and an eel by any other name is still bait. Shoremen and Virginians who enjoy Smithfield cured ham may have similar problems. The “seven” is said to signify the seventh-day completion in Genesis. Since Christmas Day signifies a new beginning for Christians, Christmas Eve is an ending of sorts.

Sancerre, Pouilly Fume and Sauvignon Blanc for Francophiles, but the Italian side says Verdicchio. When Stephen Tanzer writes 94 points, I’m alerted. When the wine costs less than $15 per bottle I run out to order it. The 2012 Colle Stefano Verdicchio di Matelica DOC hit each of those buttons. The 2011 is just a tad less at 92. Opens green straw-colored with fragrant bouquet of citrus, peach, pear, quince and some floral notes. On the palate, rich, smooth mouthwatering citrus, some floral dryness and plenty of lively acidity. The long, creamy finish leaves reverberating peach and white flower flavors, and the acidity cleanses perfectly. It is the cleansing acidity that enhances seven fishes and the body that balances the fish flavors.

Nassua Valley Vineyards is having a special Thanksgiving discount treat through Sunday, Dec. 1. If you aren't on their mailing list, shame on you, mates!

Next week I will write of goose, ham, oysters and pork roasts.