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Don't look now but the Holidays are about to ring our collective bells...

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ithin the next month we will be celebrating Hanukah, Christmas and a New Year (Thank you!). We will be getting together with family and friends, who this year especially, we are glad to see. The events of the last three months remind us of our fragile existence on the blue marble and the holidays provide us a great opportunity to renew our commitments to our family and closee friends. If your family is anything like ours, getting together involves catering to everyone's whims. Our table is a hodg-podge of flavors providing something for everyone. The conundrum here is what wine accompanies hodgepodge? This isn't as perplexing as it seems. At our house we offer different wines. Each family brings two bottles to share. Mom and Dad are the exception since they supply the food. We each concentrate on a different stage of the meal. We start with a clean crisp white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre. The acidity in these wines wakes up the palate, stimulates the appetite and pairs well with light appetizers. Champagne and sparkling wines fit into this category too, and set a festive mood with their pure, hedonistic pleasures. The "foodies" (people who enjoy food and wine as an art form), in our family prefer the Alsatian whites, Gewurz (ga-vertz), Riesling and Pinot Bianco. Red wine drinkers lean towards soft Merlots and Pinot Noir or

the Syrahs. These wines match well with a Christmas dinner where turkey, ham or duck is served. If the menu centers around lamb, a larger red wine such as Zinfandel is more appealing. Ultimately red wines suit a holiday meal better as they hold up to the complexity of flavors that prevail. If after all of this you are capable of dessert, (don't irritate Mom by not eating at least one slice of the six pies she took the time to make!) then reach for a dessert wine. Here you can really impress. A great dessert wine wakes up the crowd. Try a nice Port with apple pie and cheddar, or a slice of cake or pie with a Mumm’s Cuvee dollop of whipped Napa Winetasting cream laced with Muscat Beaume de Saturday, December 22 Venise. If chocolate 3:00 to 7:00 PM is on the menu, don't forget that your red wine will Christmas Eve still taste yummy or for you could go back Fine Wine, Food to the hedonistic champagne you & Fun were drinking beSunday, December 23 fore dinner.



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OK SO YOU’RE IN T

he lead story in our NEWSletter served as a catalyst to open the proverbial Pandoras Box. Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Syrah, Shiraz, Merlot and last but not least what is this Gewurtz thing? Dinner for how many? That's it. Run down to your grocer and grab a load of frozen hors d'eouvres. You politely withdraw to the quiet confines of your room and enjoy a simple bologna sandwich. Talk about diminishing goals. Relax! Here are a few suggestions complete with labels and names to ease that awesome decision-making dilemma.

DVX BY MUMM CUVEE NAPA NV Included in Bon Appetit's "Best bottles for toasting the season" (December2001). Light gold hues with complex aromas of lime, yeast and wet stone. Racy flavors of lime and tangerine with secondary notes of apricot and toasted croissant. Sweet vanilla cream in the lingering nose.

STERLING SAUVIGNON BLANC 2000 Wine Spectator "Best Value in California Sauvignon Blanc". Nicely herbal with lemon and butter notes that are tangy through the finish.

HINMAN PINOT GRIS 2000 Pinot Gris, fruitier and creamier than Chardonnay, from the world's most underrated great white wine grape, is a delicious, opulent, smokey wine with every bit as much character as Chardonnay.

NORMAN "MONSTER" ZINFANDEL A robust, full-bodied, quasi-late harvest style of wine. The saturated, dark ruby color is followed by heady scents of earth and black fruits. In the mouth, the wine is jammy with 14½% alcohol and fresh tart acidity. The taste suggests an elegant, well-balanced, cleanly made Zinfandel that is clearly among the mainstream of easygoing, supple Zinfandels designed for near-term drinking.

CRICHTON HALL CARNEROS PINOT NOIR 1999 The "Scarlet Pimpernel" clone of Pinot Noir used for this wine produces a wine that is elusive and mysterious, bursting with lively fruit. Harvested each year from the same ten hillside rows of Truchard Vineyard in Carneros. Luscious layers of black cherry and wild strawberry lead to rich flavors tinged with spice, earth and minerals. The finish is long, velvety and delicious. The wine shows great balance, purity and finesse, and like its great cousins from Burgundy, this is a wine that develops extra complexity and depth with age.

Italian Wine Feature  PRUNOTTO  In 1923 the renowned winemaker who worked for the most prestigious wineries of the time, Alfredo Prunotto, took over the Cantina Sociale "Vini delle Langhe" (Wine of the Langhe area Cooperative) in Alba which, right after the First World War had fallen on difficult times. Thanks to Alfredo and his wife's great passion, the Prunotto winery soon became famous, exporting its wines throughout the world. The company was taken over in 1989 by the Tuscan winery Antinori keeping up the excellent level of quality so sought after by Alfredo Prunotto.

 Barbera  Dolcetto  Barolo  Barbaresco


N A PANIC... Fact Sheet: Tawny Port

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here may be no better way to end a holiday feast or ward off an evening’s chill than with a glass of tawny port. As refined as Cognac or single malt Scotch, but with half the alcohol content, tawny port is full of delicious flavors like caramel and peanut brittle, apricot, plum, raisin and walnut—all knit harmoniously together.

PORT DEFINED

TAWNIES & AGE Top tawny ports are released in 10-, 20-, 30- and 40-yearold versions (the age refers to the time spent in wood). Tawny lovers often prefer the 20-year-old, believing it strikes the right balance between aged character and vitality. Most great tawnies are priced in the same range as all but the most expensive vintage ports ($25 to $150 and up).

All ports are made from a blend of grapes grown throughout Portugal’s Douro Valley. There are two kinds of port: tawny and ruby. Tawny is aged in wooden casks and released ready to drink, while ruby ages more in bottle than in wood and generally requires many years of cellaring. (There are also simple rubies that undergo very little aging.) The most famous ruby is vintage port, a vintage - dated wine made only in the best years. Tawnies can sometimes offer a broader, subtler array of flavors than vintage ports, which are often fruity and powerful. Both are connoisseurs’ wines.

 RAMOS-PINTO 10-YEAR-OLD  This stellar tawny-port producer is owned by Champagne house Louis Roederer. Although very young, this wine shows off Ramos-Pinto’s trademark elegance.

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