12/20/06 – Holiday reds and “Yankee Swap”

By Jesse on December 18, 2006


If there’s one thing I always attempt to do at wine club — albeit with varying degrees of success — it’s to keep the meetings from getting too “fun.”  Lets face it, wine itself isn’t fun, and nor should be the study of wine.  That’s why we hold wine club on non-fun days like Tuesday and Wednesday.  However, once or twice a year, I feel like we can afford to cut loose and enjoy ourselves.  This Tuesday is one such occasion.

Tis the season of red and green, but since there’s no such thing as green wine — at least above and beyond youngish, unripe-tasting bottles that we do our best to avoid — we’ll be focusing on reds.  Bring along any red you’d like.  California would be ideal, since we’ll have some context.  Also, we can try to bring something that will be full-bodied and robust… the kind that might go well with a nice Christmas roast.  Zinfandel, Syrah, and Cabernet (as well as Bordeaux or Cabernet blends such as Meritage) would be good bets.  Another likely winner would be a nice Merlot.  Here’s a NY Times article Daniella just found about some good Washington State Merlots:


Hanukkah colors are blue and gold, so anyone who doesn’t want to bring a red can feel free to bring a “golden” (those who aren’t sure what “golden” means should return to and thoroughly re-read last week’s e-mail).  Some of you might point out that blue and gold really have nothing to do with Hanukkah, and are actually just constructions of a corporate gift industry, to which I would counter that red and green have even less to do with Christmas.  We’re doing the best with what we have.

Speaking of things that have nothing to do with Christmas, we’re going to add a little excitement to this week’s affair by playing a nice rousing game of Yankee Swap.  For those unfamiliar with the game, it’s kind of like a more badass Secret Santa.  Here are the rules: you bring a gift worth no more than ten dollars.  Wrap the gift or seal it in a gift bag so that there’s no way of knowing what’s inside, and don’t label it with your name or anything.  The gifts get put in a pile under the tree or menorah.  Following that we all draw numbers to see who goes first, second, etc.  Then:

  1. The guest who has drawn #1 goes first. He/she chooses a gift from the gift pile, opens the gift for all to see, and keeps it for the time being.
  2. The guest who has drawn #2 goes next. He/she chooses a gift from the gift pile, opens the gift for all to see, and can choose to keep the gift or swap it with any previous gift-opener. If guest #2 chooses to swap, he takes the chosen gift from the previous owner, and gives the gift which he/she just opened and gives it to them.
  3. Allow each subsequent person to unwrap a new gift and then keep it or swap it with the previously opened gifts.
  4. After all turns have been taken, the person who has drawn #1 has the option of taking one more turn (swapping any gift) since they had the disadvantage of not knowing what any of the now-opened presents were in the beginning.

So basically we’re all opening gifts, stealing them back from each other, etc.  Simultaneously, we’re drinking delicious wine and getting excited about the holiday.  Possible gift ideas include wine-related items such as corkscrews, bottle sealers, cheap glassware, or a nice inexpensive bottle.  Alternatively, you can bring a joke gift… something that people are going to try to give away.  A good example would be the horrible bottle that I brought to Sasha and Noah’s party on Saturday night.  That would be one you would avoid stealing from someone.  Also, the gifts don’t necessarily have to be wine-related.  Be creative.  Just make sure they’re wrapped.

If you’re bringing a nice bottle of wine for the tasting, please don’t feel obligated to spend more than a couple dollars on your gift.  This party shouldn’t be financially prohibitive for anyone.  Try to find a good bottle for a good deal, and keep the gifts under $10, and it should be fine.  Or simply re-gift something you no longer want.  All good options.  Thank you, Brittney, for the awesome Yankee Swap idea.  Good times.

We are meeting at Amy’s house in beautiful Mar Vista.  Her info:
12534 Venice Blvd, Apt #5.

From the 405 S, exit Venice Blvd. Go right off the ramp and make a left onto Venice. We are on the left-hand side 1 1/2 blocks past Centinella. You have to make a U-turn to get to our side of the street. Park anywhere.

Amy 310.309.7062

Bring a bottle of something holiday-appropriate and a well-concealed gift for the swap meet, and we’ll see you on Tuesday night at 9:00.