Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Drink ideas to warm your spirit this holiday

December 14th, 2012 by brynn grimley

Parties happen all year round but around the holidays, it’s a party extravaganza! It’s a time of year that brings families and friends together and the centerpiece of any gathering is almost always food.

Whether you’re thinking about hosting a soiree at your newly decked out home, gathering around the community center with volunteer groups or just pulling your pals together for a holiday social hour, here’s a few ideas to put a smile on everyone’s face.

Ann Vogel’s sweet treats make great little gifts for guests. And if this is part of the party, set that bottle of cream sherry out to enjoy with the Sherried Walnuts. Cream sherry, while not the sweetest sherry on the block, would be perfect for this recipe.

We’d serve them up with a bottle of Pedro Ximénez Sherry. Ximénez is a grape variety and a style of sherry. The sherry is black as an ace of spades and thick as motor oil, only it tastes way better. Most come in half bottles and sherry glasses would be best way to serve this drink because they’re small, elegant looking and it’s the holiday season.

For the No Bake Brandy Balls, Chocolate Truffles, and No Bake Rum Balls when pairing these with wine it’s a no brainer as long as you remember that the wine should be sweeter than the food.

Brandy is usually a grape-based spirit that originated in the holy land of grapes — France. The most famous brandies come from the cognac and Armagnac regions of France. Today, brandies are made with less traditional fruits like cherries and peaches. These would work nicely as well. Serve them in small glasses, as a little bit goes a long way.

Other holiday drinks that warm the spirit are Glühwein and Wassail.

Glühwein is German for “glow wine.” This is a traditional beverage for those cold German nights. It’s a warmed up wine made with sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and perhaps allspice. Any wine can be used, but port or red are the favorites.

Wassail, is another warm drink for wet and cold nights. Made with apples, sugar, oranges, cloves, hard apple cider, brandy, ginger, nutmeg, allspice berries, cinnamon sticks and eggs. A meal in itself, and sweet enough to pair with the rum balls, just remember to sit down for this pairing.

Caught in the act of Wassailing, you’d be visiting friends and neighbors, singing carols and sharing this drink and maybe a few little sweets from the candy dish.

Cheers and Happy Holidays!

Brynn and Mary

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