Christmas Eve dinner was at our house, and probably the best thing that could happen that morning was that I had to work. There were going to be enough cooks in the kitchen and I would not be impeding any of them. The house was all decorated since right after Thanksgiving weekend, so all that needed was some superficial touching up there. There was some chaos, I am sure that morning, while I was gone, but I guess everything went smoothly. Since I am semi-retired, I am glad that I have a place to “hang my hat” as the old saying goes, and Lord knows that I have plenty of hats.
The dinner preparations were going at full tilt as can be expected when there were over thirty guests coming by. My Bride was organizing everything in her unique manner and as long as she knew what was arriving, she didn’t need me, even if I had been home, I would probably be hiding up in my office. Thirty guests require appetizers and many of them, and would even require some that were Raconteur friendly as there are some items that I prefer not to have. There were salads to be made, and her one Sister was in from Kentucky and was making something new for everyone to try. There were all the sides that were either being made in house or coordinated from “outside contractors.” Then there were the meats to be prepared, as we were having turkey, ham and a leg of lamb. Then there was also the clearing of space in the refrigerator in the garage for all of the desserts that would be arriving.
Of course with thirty some odd guests, there would also be beverages. The soft drinks like coffee, tea and pop are easy to take care of. The few that wanted beer and mixed drinks were also easy, as this house is always fully stocked it seems. My favorite beverage of choice, of course, is wine and there were many wines selected. There were some white wines, including a White Zinfandel for some of the women who just adore this type of wine, and they should be happy as well. We also had some sparkling wine for those that wanted to feel festive. There were several red wines that we went through that evening as well and I will only mention two of them, and they were both from wineries that I have enjoyed at other times, but different vintages. The first wine that I will mention is Cakebread Cellars Benchland Select Cabernet Sauvignon 1998; while I have had other wines from Cakebread, this was the first time that I had this designation. The Benchland Select refers to the vineyard from the Benchlands, or some will refer to them as the foothills, of the Mayacamas Mountains in Napa Valley and this was the fourth vintage of this designation. Cakebread is well respected and they take their winemaking very seriously and this wine spent twenty-six months in French Oak prior to bottling and it was a full bodied Cab that really deserves mention. The other wine that I will mention is an old favorite here in the house and it was from the millennial vintage. We were having a bottle of Opus One 2000, that glorious joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild, which is simply labeled “A Napa Valley Red Wine.” The wine is that classic Bordeaux blend, that is called Meritage by all the wineries that belong to that society, but there are several wineries in California that were doing this type of wine successfully prior to the formation of the society, and hence they did not need to label their wine, other then by their proprietary name. Nineteen months of aging in French Oak with the blending of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec and Petit Verdot and this wine was spot on and enjoyed by all that tried it.