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Posted by Robert Whitley on November 18, 2014 at 12:32 PM

Holiday Party Planning Tips

 With the holiday entertaining season just around the corner, now is the time to prepare to be the host with the most.

Assuming a selection of tasty wine is part of the plan, consider the following suggestions to enhance the experience for you and your guests.

1. Start with a good wine glass. Even the nationwide discount store Target is now selling Riedel crystal, the gold standard for everyday wine consumption. For a few pennies more than what you might pay for mediocre stemware, you can sip wine from glasses that are functional as well as elegant. A good wine glass allows for proper aeration, which enhances aromatics and softens tannins where that is an issue.

2. Use a decanter or a wine aerator to prepare bold young reds prior to serving. Many young red wines are packed with astringent tannins, which either fade away or disappear entirely over time. But for immediate consumption, the pucker factor can be reduced through decanting from the bottle into a larger glass container (it need not be fancy) that will allow the wine to breathe. With air, the tannins round out and the pleasure factor is dramatically increased.

3. Invest in a deep and wide ice bucket that will hold at least four bottles. Sparkling, rose and crisp white wines lose their snap, and much of their appeal, when left to sit out and warm up as a party or dinner drags on. Many wine shops and department stores sell inexpensive clear acrylic "party" buckets that will keep multiple wine bottles chilled at the same time.

4. Don't hesitate to put a chill on your reds as well. Serving temps for reds should be about 65-68 degrees. Warm reds often come off as unbalanced and/or flat. Cooler (assuming the room temperature is about 75 degrees) reds are easier to drink and deliver more flavor. If a bottle of red wine is warm to the touch, which is often the case if it has been stored in the kitchen, five to eight minutes in the ice bucket should do the trick. It isn't necessary to chill the red as you would a white; simply cooling it down will suffice.

Let the festivities begin!

Jeff Cohn Cellars, California (United States) “The Impostor” 2012 ($35)
I was at a ZAP symposium a few years ago where I heard Jeff Cohn say "don't worry about whether my wine is age-worthy or not.  Go ahead and drink it -- I'll make more for you."  That said, he's made an age-worthy wine with this blend.  It takes a long time in the glass to show itself, with initial raspberry, leaf and spice underneath sulphury notes, but it comes around smartly, blowing off to a garden of flowers and spice, with rhubarb and raspberry fruit.  It's fairly oaky and shows lots of dill, but comes into balance with a lot of airtime.  If you're taking Jeff's advice, decant this one for a few hours before serving with something saucy and spicy.  If you want my advice, get a few bottles to age 5 to 10 years as well.
90 Rich Cook

Dr. Michael
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