Christmas is coming, maybe the finest feast day of the year after Thanksgiving. It's time to prowl the cellar to see which wines you want to serve, then build a holiday meal around them.
You weren't thinking of doing it the other way around, were you? Good. So here are some ideas.
Greet your guests at the door with a warm hug and a festive glass of bubbly. Save the fancy Champagnes for New Year's Eve and serve prosecco:
Nonvintage Lamarca Prosecco, Veneto, Italy: light, lively and slightly sweet, with flavors of grapefruit and minerals; $17.
Serve an elegant hors d'oeuvre like oysters Rockefeller, accompanied by a creamy sauvignon blanc:
2011 Tangent Sauvignon Blanc, Paragon Vineyard, Edna Valley; crisp and lively and smooth, with flavors of green pears and minerals; $13.
Even if you're not Italian, hold a Feast of the Seven Fishes that's a Christmas Eve tradition among real Italians everything from polpi in humido (stewed octopus) to scungilli (snail) salad, and serve a nice Italian vermentino:
2011 Ceccchi Family Estates Litorale Vermentino, Maremma, Italy: full-bodied and crisp, with white peach and lemon flavors; $17.
Roast a chicken simply, with only lemon and rosemary and serve it with an all-American chardonnay:
2010 Wild Horse Chardonnay, Central Coast: hint of oak, rich and creamy, with flavors of pineapples and peaches; $17.
Get out the fancy, once-a-year china including those rarely used soup bowls you inherited. Make a spicy Thai orange curry soup (Google it) and serve it with a crisp rosé wine:
2011 Matchbook Rosé of Tempranillo, Dunnigan Hills: lightly sweet, with orange, peach and strawberry flavors; $10.
Dig a hole in your yard, roast a pig and serve it with its perfect match, dry gewurztraminer:
2011 Castello di Amorosa Gewurztraminer, Anderson Valley: rich and generous, with spicy litchi flavors; $23.
Toss a big slab of salmon in the oven to roast, and serve it with a red-wine-with-fish complement like pinot noir:
2010 Cambria Pinot Noir, Julia's Vineyard, Santa Maria Valley: rich and dry, with black cherry and bitter chocolate flavors; $25.
Play Ebenezer Scrooge the happy, kindhearted one from the end of the Dickens tale and roast a whole goose for your family, and serve it with a hearty petite sirah:
2010 HandCraft Petite Sirah, California: bold tannins, hearty blueberry and black cherry flavors, powerful structure; $11.