12/11/07 – Holiday Zins and Yankee Swap

By Jesse on December 10, 2007

Dear Winos,

It’s our last meeting of the year, so obviously we’ll be drinking the last wine in the alphabet — Zinfandel. Nothing like a nice jammy red to pair with our holiday meals. Zin is grown all over California, but excellent plantings can be found in Sonoma, Mendocino, Napa, and — as we discovered earlier this year — Paso Robles. The grape is made into several styles of wine: the sweet, fruity blush called White Zinfandel, first created by Sutter Home in 1972; traditional red Zin, which is full-bodied, jammy, and often spicy; and “Zinfandel Port,” a rich dessert-style wine that we sampled at Stuart Vineyards in Temecula. Feel free to buy any style you like (though lets try to avoid those mass-produced bottles of White Zin from Ralph’s that cost less than $8 a piece, because we all know exactly what those taste like). And don’t forget to check out the Appellations America entry on Zinfandel to learn more about its flavor profile and its best areas.

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 nefarious version of 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 wino 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 wino 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 #1 has his or her gift stolen, he/she then opens a new gift.
  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 wino 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.

If you’re confused as to how the rules work, watch this clip from The Office, which will definitely explain everything. 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, as the gifts don’t necessarily have to be wine-related. Be creative. Just make sure they’re wrapped. (Erik sent this holiday gift idea for your favorite wino… anyone who finds one for less than $25, please bring it, because clearly we all need one.)

We’ll be meeting at Jordan’s house in Santa Monica. Make sure you bring the following two things: 1) a delightful gift valued at a ten-spot or less, and 2) a delicious bottle of Zinfandel or a no-wine donation. We’ll see you all on Tuesday at 9pm.