Rita St. Clair, interior designer
“My plates and serving dishes are from all over the globe and I have special memories attached to all of them. Some come from family and friends and some from flea markets and antique shops. Some are a full set of 12 and others— the most interesting ones— are from broken sets. I always mix them with other dishes. In this way, each place setting has dishes such as soup bowls or salad plates, bread-and-butter and dessert dishes that never match the plates used for the main dish. I have found that if I stay with certain colors I can produce an interesting, but not chaotic, table. I prefer white or cream china with just a border of gold, or silver for the main plate. All the other plates can have designs and be multi-colored. But whatever the pattern and color it must enhance the food— no pastels, pink or baby blue! And the tablecloth has a lot to do with how the antique plates work together. White always seems to work best, although at times I like to use an antique fabric with the old dishes. With me, everything is about color.”
Marcy Sagel, owner, Kitchens By Design
“During the holidays I love to cook things that are easy, look great and have lots of flavor. Creating a display of beautiful food— in taste, as well as how it is served— is a joy. I like to serve this beef tenderloin with cabernet sauce or cream white horseradish sauce surrounded by lots of fresh sprigs of herbs on a beautiful antique platter alongside two silver gravy boats filled with the sauces.”
Beef Tenderloin with Cabernet Sauce and Cream White Horseradish Sauce
1 beef tenderloin
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkle the fresh rosemary and thyme onto beef. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few twists of a pepper grind. With beef covered in herbs and seasoning, place in refrigerator for at least an hour. Remove from refrigerator for at least 20 minutes while oven is heating to 475. Tenderloin should cook for 6 minutes per pound but cut into beef to see that it is cooked as rare or well done as you like it.
Cream White Horseradish Sauce
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
1 jar white prepared horseradis
Remove whipping cream from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Using a hand or electric beater, whip cream until thick. Add white horseradish to the cream and mix. Chill until ready to serve.
4 shallots (finely chopped)
5 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup of beef stock
1 tablespoon of beef bouvril (concentrate of beef stock)
1/4 cup of cabernet or Madeira wine
Melt butter in a saucepan and add chopped shallots until soft. Stir in flour, then add beef stock and beef bouvril. Cook until it starts to thicken. Serve immediately.
Curt Decker, lobbyist, Washington, D.C.
“I use candles everywhere. I amass them on tables and place them on the stairs. This not only gives the party a nice ambience but they help guide the guests. I put them in lanterns, set a few in the bathrooms and bedrooms. I have four fireplaces, so rather than build fires in each one, I fill them with lots of candles. I get my candles from a place called Wild Cedar in Santa Fe, N.M. Every year I schlep boxes and boxes of them back home. They are hand-dipped and come in many sizes with a beautiful antique finish that looks so much nicer than the processed things you usually see. I like to use an ivory or cream color and definitely no scent. The volume of candles creates a simple but dramatic look. But, of course, there’s a bit of a rush lighting 40 candles just before everyone arrives.”
Caroline Reutter, owner/chef, Caroline’s Cakes, Annapolis
“The ultimate entertaining idea is a decadent dessert party. I like to serve champagne and, of course, my caramel cake as well as my raspberry sauce with lemon sherbet. I also make nutty lady fingers, wonderful little shortbread cookies that are rolled in powdered sugar, and something lemony, like little meringue shells with lemon filling covered with whipped cream and piled high with strawberries. And, of course, I need my flourless chocolate cake— and pecan pie, too. And finally, I make a big bowl of fresh fruit with a little mint scattered throughout and serve it with some sauce anglaise. Now that’s what I call a party!”
Rhea Feikin, host, Maryland Public Television
“This is so simple but so effective. I have a lot of beautiful big old evergreen trees on my property. Every year, particularly at Thanksgiving, I snip off several bows from two different kinds of evergreen trees to create more textures and shades of green. I mix them together and run them down the center of a very long, narrow dining table. In the middle I put a flat basket filled with all kinds of fruits and nuts. I weave cones, candles and ornaments into the evergreens. It makes holiday decorating easy, it looks great and smells wonderful. And, when the holidays are over, I just throw them away.”
Ingrid Blanton, Fabulous Flowers, Oxford, Md.
“I love color, and use lots of colorful flowers on my table when entertaining. I like to use little individual glass or china vases that I’ve picked up here and there over the years and put one at each place setting. Whenever possible, I use a variety of roses and hydrangea from my garden— I have them in blue, pink, purple, white and green. If I’m not doing one large arrangement, I like to create a dramatic table by scattering lots of rose petals around small vases and candles, and use lots of greens— eucalyptus, lemon leaves, hydrangea leaves. I use whatever I have in my garden— I like to clip whatever is around.”
Myriam Norris, artist, Edgewater, Md.
“I love to entertain people from various backgrounds, bring them together and make something that’s special, easy and that can be made in advance. That’s why I serve gravlax. It’s delicious with sour cream, onions, capers, lemon and a variety of dark breads. If I have a lot of people— maybe 40 for a sit-down dinner— I make it on individual plates and serve it as a first course.”
Jerry Pellegrino, chef/owner, Corks restaurant
“One of the most challenging tasks to accomplish while entertaining is finding a way for you to enjoy your own party! I think everyone enjoys breaking out the good china, picking colorful linens for the table, getting in the kitchen and preparing one of the old classics in your recipe arsenal and fielding accolades from your guests. But by the time they arrive, you’re ready for a glass of champagne and a dollop of caviar. Once the party starts, you should have to spend a minimal amount of time in the kitchen and you certainly shouldn’t have to worry about clearing the table or washing the dishes. I always hire at least one server and a dishwasher any time I have friends to my house. I think it adds a touch of civility and class to any party. I also think the best way to find someone qualified for the job is to become friends with your favorite restaurateur or caterer. Restaurant servers are always looking to make a little extra money. And believe me, from the moment they pour the first glass of bubbly to when they’re clearing the last dessert plate from the table and you’re in your cellar looking for a bottle of well-aged port, you’ll never try to entertain by yourself again.”
INFUSED VODKA COCKTAIL
Licia Spinelli, vice president of marketing and special events, Restaurant Association of Maryland
“I like to infuse vodka and shake up some raspberry martinis with green sugar rims for my ‘Holiday Pause’ party. I gather together my holiday-weary [and sometimes bleary!] friends and give them a night off from wrapping, shopping, cleaning and planning. We get together for a few hours and I quickly pull together these great cocktails. They are very simple to prepare, easy to keep in the fridge, festive in color and easy to make. I prepare the vodka ahead of time and just mix and shake when guests arrive. They’re great served with cannoli chips and dip from Vaccaro’s. This special treat helps us slow down for a few hours and reminds us of the wonderful friendships we have and how lucky we are to celebrate the holidays together. They’re a real departure from your grandmother’s punch recipe.”
Raspberry Martinis with Green Sugar Rims
Infused Raspberry Vodka
3 1-quart glass jars with tight fitting screw-top lids (i.e. Mason jars)
1 gallon unflavored vodka
2 pints of raspberries
Rinse the raspberries to remove any pesticides. Wash the jar and lid in very hot water to sterilize. Divide the berries between the 3 jars, filling each jar about halfway. Fill to the rim with vodka. Seal the jar and give it a good shake. Store in a cool dark place (or the refrigerator) for 1 to 3 weeks. (After about 5 days the berry infusions will begin to set.) After the infusion is set, strain the fruit from the vodka mixture. Store the infused vodka in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
1/2 cup sugar
Green food coloring
1-quart plastic zip-seal bag
Place 1/2 cup of sugar and 3 drops of green food coloring in a zip-seal baggie. Seal the baggie and use your fingers to work the coloring into the sugar until you have an even distribution of color. Spread the sugar onto wax paper and allow to air dry. You can prepare sugar in advance and store in an airtight container till ready to use.
To make the cocktails:
1 1/2 ounces raspberry infused vodka
1/2 ounces Chambord
Splash fresh lime juice
To create martini, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then pour infused vodka and Chambord into shaker. Add a splash of lime juice. Shake and strain into a chilled sugar-rimmed glass.
To create sugared rims, place the colored sugar onto a small salad plate. Rub the rim of the martini glass with the lime. Turn the glass upside-down and gently turn the glass back and forth in the sugar to coat. Shake off any excess to create a light coating.
Pour the infused vodka into the glass and enjoy. Drop a few fresh berries in the bottom as a garnish.
Gay Legg, marketing consultant
“I hang a strand of antique sleigh bells that are attached to a leather strap, the kind that were actually used on an old sleigh, on the inside of my front door, so whenever anyone opens the door, it sounds like jingle bells. I have a big wreath on the outside of the door, so I put the bells on the inside so they jingle whenever anyone arrives.”
Sloane Brown, society columnist, The Sun
“To make a dinner party a success, I always invite someone I think of as a ‘kicky’ friend, a person who has great energy and an up, positive, personality. That’s the one thing that makes the party a sure-fire win. It doesn’t matter who else is sitting around the table, if I have a fun, kicky friend who’s involved in lots of things, I know the night will be a success. I never combine all one clique— I always mix people. It works best if most of the people around the table don’t know each other. Great food and decoration are important, but people make the party. My friends always say to me, ‘We love coming to your house. We always meet new fun people.’ To me, that’s the highest compliment.”
Merritt Butts, realtor, Annapolis
“Fine linens are a soft spot for me. I have a lot that I inherited. I don’t think I ever used a paper napkin in my life, no matter how casual. And even if people eat on their laps, nice linens make a difference. Most of my beautiful linens were my grandmothers’, and I’ve taken good care of them. Because most of my tablecloths are white, I fill in with colorful napkins and napkin rings. Over the years I’ve found fabulous linens at estate sales, department store sales racks and, of course, at Yves de Lorme. But I’m happiest to find an interesting piece of cloth at an old hardware store.”
MUSIC, MARTINIS, MAscarPONE
Sascha Wolhandler, Sascha’s 527 Café and Sascha’s Catering “Music: One of the most important components to a party is music. It sets the mood and fills the room so that pregnant pauses in the conversation are joyously filled. Think of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” or opera arias for a brunch, “Hotel Costes” soundtrack (Paris hotel) or other great contemporary jazz for a Euro-sophisticated cocktail party, Rolling Stones to Jay-Z for a rock’n’roll feel, and don’t forget to mix in Latin, like the Buena Vista Social Club, for instant atmosphere.
Martinis: One is a great stimulant for any conversation and the glass makes the dowdiest person feel downright sexy! Feature pomegranate and apple martinis for a happening green and red holiday color scheme.
Mascarpone: This delicious, creamy Italian cheese lends itself to many presentations both savory and sweet, so keep some in the fridge for emergencies. Top it with olive tapenade or pesto and you have an instant cheese torte. Mix it with confectioners’ sugar and your favorite sweet liqueur and pair with brandied peaches or fruits, and you have a wonderful dessert.”
Maxine Millar, volunteer, Oxford, Md.
“I started with my antique silver napkin ring collection at least 30 years ago, and I always use them when I entertain. All are monogrammed, and it’s amazing how many I have with the same names as friends. So, whenever possible, I place the one with that person’s name at his or her place setting. I also collect silver baby cups, and like to incorporate them into my dinner parties by placing one at each place setting with a nosegay instead of doing a centerpiece.”
Michael Harrison, director, Baltimore Opera Co.
“My friends tell me at Christmastime I become Italian. My outdoor decorating isn’t quite like Hampden, but they tell me it’s getting there, and that the inside of my house looks like Macy’s. For me, it’s a great time of celebration. Outside, it’s all about lights, lots and lots of white lights— I haven’t had the guts yet to do different colored lights. I have about 10 arborvitae that I cover with lights and Christmas trees up and down the entry that are covered in lights and an arbor over the front door covered with lights. We don’t have Santa Claus or angels in the yard, just lots of lights and candles in all of the windows. I have an acre and a half that includes a large garden with a big fountain and statuary. I often enclose the porch so that guests can wander out on the porch and we run the fountain even if it is snowing.”
Jerry Pellegrino, chef/owner, Corks restaurant
“You’ve just pulled off the party of the year. Your guests are sated, laughter filled the room all night and you’re starting the hugs and kisses goodnight. My favorite way to really solidify your title as ‘Host of the Year’ is to give your guests a little something to take home. It should be something that continues the conversation about what a great time was had into the next day. Perhaps a few muffins you baked that your guests could enjoy for breakfast, or some cookies to be enjoyed after lunch. You’ll need to wrap them in a festive way, maybe in cellophane and bow, or perhaps in a small decorative box you found online at http://www.bagsandbowsonline.com. Blueberry muffins with nutmeg topping and buttery date scones with hazelnuts both fill the bill nicely.”
Blueberry Muffins with Nutmeg Topping
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup buttermilk or plain yogurt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/3 cups cake flour
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
To make nutmeg sugar, stir together the nutmeg and the sugar.
In large mixing bowl, cream butter with both sugars until very light in color. Scrape sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Add vanilla, eggs and buttermilk, beating constantly.
In another bowl, stir together nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour. Add to butter mixture. Gently mix just until combined. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill paper-lined muffin cups to top with batter. Sprinkle each muffin with about 2 teaspoons nutmeg sugar.
Bake on rack in upper third of 400-degree oven until muffins are lightly browned, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove muffins from pan to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 16 muffins or 6 jumbo muffins.
Buttery Date Scones with Hazelnuts
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat together first 4 ingredients until mixture resembles coarse meal. (I prefer to use a food processor, but this can also be done with a pastry cutter.) Fold in the dates and the walnuts. Beat together eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended and add, all at once, to flour mixture. Mix until blended. Do not over-beat. Spread batter (it will be very thick) into a greased 10-inch spring-form pan and sprinkle top with 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, but nice). Bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until top is browned and a cake tester, inserted in center, comes out clean. Allow the scones to cool in the pan. When cool, remove from pan and cut into wedges to serve. Note: Dried currants or raisins can be substituted for the dates. Hazelnuts can be omitted. Serves 8 to 10.
QUINOA, QUINCE, QUENELLES
Sascha Wolhandler, Sascha’s 527 Café and Sascha’s Catering
“Quinoa: This grain is an interesting alternative to rice or couscous. Pronounced keen-wah, it should be rinsed till the water runs clear, so as not to be bitter. Sauté onions and garlic and the quinoa, add water, vegetable or chicken stock and cook for half an hour. I like to add nuts, currants, scallions— seasoning as I would any rice or grain dish.
Quenelles: A quenelle is a poached fish mousse shaped into an oval. It is very elegant and serves as a beautiful centerpiece to a meal or part of a wine-tasting dinner. If you have an impressive wine collection, or just want to have a great wine-tasting dinner, start with foie gras, then the fish course would be quenelles, then a meat course, cheese course and dessert. This is ambitious, but heck, it’s the holidays! Pull out your favorite wines, a Charles Aznavour soundtrack and you have a savoir-faire French evening.
Quince: Quince branches are around in April. However, with the global commerce as it is, you might be able to find some around the holidays. These are pink flowering branches and, with some dangling ornaments, would make a gorgeous alternative tree or centerpiece.”
RIB ROAST AND ROAST POTATOES
Petey O’Donnell, writer and volunteer
“This recipe for rib roast came from an old Gourmet magazine, and from the first time I made it, it became a Christmas Day tradition. We celebrate Easter and Thanksgiving at our beach house in North Carolina, but for Christmas, we always have family here along with our Jewish friends and those friends who don’t have family in town. This recipe has never failed me. Along with the potatoes, it garners raves every time. I make a huge, beautiful salad with dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and a good blue cheese, perhaps some green beans, and then finish off with a hazelnut yule log from Patisserie Poupon.”
Herbed Rib Roast Roast
1 (7- to 8-pound) prime rib roast (sometimes called standing rib roast; 3 or 4 ribs)
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups beef broth
1 small fresh rosemary sprig
1 small fresh thyme sprig
1 garlic clove, smashed
Prepare roast: Trim all but a thin layer of fat from roast. Grind peppercorns and bay leaves with salt to a powder in an electric coffee or spice grinder, then transfer to a mortar. Add garlic, thyme and rosemary, then pound to a smooth paste with pestle. Stir in oil. Rub paste all over roast. Transfer roast to a rack set in a small roasting pan. Marinate, covered and chilled, at least 8 hours.
Cook roast: Let roast stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roast beef in middle of oven for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 and roast beef until a thermometer inserted into center of meat registers 110 degrees, 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours more. Transfer beef to a large platter and let stand, uncovered, 25 minutes. (Meat will continue to cook, reaching about 130 for medium-rare.)
Make jus: Skim fat from pan juices. Add broth, rosemary, thyme and garlic and deglaze pan by simmering on top of stove over moderate heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits. Transfer to a small saucepan and add any juices that have collected on platter. Gently simmer 10 minutes. Skim fat and season jus with salt and pepper. Cut slices from roast and serve with jus. Note: Roast can marinate up to 24 hours. Serves 8.
Roasted Parmesan Potatoes
1 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
16 large boiling potatoes peeled and quartered lengthwise
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. Sprinkle cheese on wax paper or foil and dry 1 hour. Transfer to a large sealable bag with flour, salt and pepper, then shake to mix. Pour butter into large shallow baking pan. Lift potatoes from bag and arrange in 1 layer in butter. Roast in middle or lower-third of oven, turning twice, until browned and crisp, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Note: Potatoes can be roasted toward end of cooking and during standing time for rib roast. Serves 8.
Eleanor Landauer, director of major and planned gifts, Friends School
“When I was a little girl, whenever we had a formal sit-down holiday dinner, every place setting would include a tiny basket filled with mixed nuts, hard candies and small chocolates. No matter how large the crowd, there was always one cup at every place. As kids we called them ‘nut cups.’ My mother would trim each basket with a colorful ribbon in keeping with whatever the holiday— Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. When I grew up and started setting my own table, my mother thought it appropriate to take the simpler woven basket to the next level and we bought several small silver baskets that I use whenever I have a sit-down dinner for the holidays. My family always expects them, but I now have friends who will ask if we’re having nut cups. As kids we always thought this idea was funny because of the expression ‘everything from soup to nuts.’”
Daniel Raffel, president, A la Carte Distinctive Boutique Catering
“A beautiful and well-designed set of topiaries flanking the front door invokes the holiday spirit when guests arrive. I also like to use topiaries for the centerpiece on a glorious buffet. Topiaries have a long and beautiful history. Usually made with organic materials that bring the smells of the outdoors inside, and often covered in ribbons and bows, topiaries have grown into a great way to express a variety of holiday themes. Although topiaries can be purchased pre-made, I like to create my own. Over the years I have used traditional boxwood with red roses or holly berries, fresh pears, mixed evergreens, candy and carnations. (Yes, carnations. They work very well in topiaries when inserted very close together. They last a long time and are available in bright colors.) I always design with a color, pattern or shape to coordinate with other holiday décor. Each year the challenge is to create a topiary that is new and exciting. I think this year will be button mums on a box frame so that the topiaries look like wrapped gift boxes.”
UPSIDE-DOWN CHRISTMAS TREE
Andrew Zill, event stylist and design consultant
As surprising as it seems, the upside-down Christmas tree is one of the hottest holiday trends. It’s actually not as new as most think. Hanging fir trees upside-down dates back to the Middle Ages when Europeans did it to represent the Trinity. But over the centuries, Christmas trees have been re-shaped with the tip pointing to the heavens, and some think an upside-down Christmas tree is tacky or even disrespectful to the tradition. I personally feel my 1956 aluminum tinsel tree [with the motorized light] makes a stunning centerpiece, suspended over my dining room table. Retailers such as Target and Hammacher & Schlemmer recently introduced the trees so that more collectible ornaments could be displayed at eye level, giving those special holiday mementos more opportunity to shine. And there are several benefits. If you have children, you can keep most of the ornaments away from little hands. Cats and dogs won’t be racing around, knocking decorations off the tree, not to mention the fact that an upside-down tree gives you the opportunity to showcase the hidden designer within you!”
VARIETY OF EXPERIENCES
Patrick Sutton, architect
“One of the things I like to do is to move the party from different areas inside the house providing a change of venue so that people don’t start feeling trapped. Since Thanksgiving involves spending so much time in the kitchen, I like to start by setting glasses of champagne in a smaller room where it is more intimate and with a different kind of lighting. Then I have everyone bring champagne into the kitchen and help participate in the cooking. When dinner is ready, we’ll move into the dining room. After that, we’ll move into the den or another space for dessert. On Thanksgiving, there is usually football involved, so we might wind up having after-dinner drinks watching TV. For Christmas dinner or any holiday dinner, I move around where I serve hors d’oeuvres, appetizers and the main course— there’s no reason to have them all in the same room. For dessert, sometimes I’ll put lots of pillows on the floor and sit around a coffee table. It makes the gathering a little more intimate. It’s all about variety, changing rooms so that each experience you have during the course of the evening changes, too.”
WINE CORK GARLAND
Celeste Corsaro, director of marketing, Baltimore Eats
“I save my wine corks throughout the year. When the holidays roll around, I buy some cool wooden beads, twine and a doll stitching needle [they’re sturdy] and string together the beads and wine corks to hang as tree garland. I have made these for about seven years. I came up with the idea when I was a stay-at-home mom— at that time I was into crafts. Those days are over, but I still put a new wine cork garland together every year. It looks really cool hanging on the tree or strung up the steps with lights.”
XOXO Kissing Ball
Gay Legg, marketing consultant
“A kissing ball is an extended tradition from kissing under the mistletoe. You can make it in a traditional way, which is to use a piece of flower foam as a base. But I like to use an osage orange— one of those green balls that fall off the osage orange trees in the fall. I break off sprigs of fresh boxwood and stuff them into the osage orange. The moisture inside of it keeps the boxwood fresh for the entire holiday season. I first wrap a piece of red satin ribbon around the ball and pin it in place. I use more ribbon to hang it up and add a bow on the bottom so I can attach a piece of mistletoe. It looks pretty hanging underneath a chandelier or any place where it can be suspended. They sell kissing balls at the annual green sale at Ladew Topiary Gardens if you don’t want to make them yourself.”
Tom and Joanne Sfakiyanudis, owners, Kyma restaurant, Annapolis
“Yaourti, a delicious Greek-style yogurt parfait, is a family favorite of ours. We gave our chef, Jose Picazo, the recipe to share with our customers. He serves it beautifully in an elegant martini glass. Smooth, creamy Greek yogurt is layered with crunchy hazelnuts and sweet, sticky honey, creating an interesting, complex texture that’s a little bit sweet with a bit of bite. We make the dessert for special occasions, holidays and celebrations.”
Patrick Bouculat, owner, Wine Cellars of Annapolis
“Most people don’t realize that zinfandel is a fantastic premium red wine; they usually think of white zinfandel, which is actually pink and a little sweet. Red zinfandel is very different— it’s a big, bold, world-class wine from California with a lot of body. It has a real richness without being heavy. I love to serve, and highly recommend, the 2004 Alexander Valley Zinfandel from Rusina Vineyards in Sonoma. It has rich fruit tones and hints of wood and spice and a long, velvety finish. It’s great with barbecue in the summer or roasted game in the winter.”