Merry Friendsmas!

In an age where gatherings often include extended family, a new tradition designed to unite far-away friends (and even those just around the corner) has evolved into a holiday in its own right. Meet Friendsmas. In a nutshell, it can be as extravagant as a multi-course dinner with guests galore or as intimate as hors d’oeuvres and special vintages shared among the best of friends. Whatever your preference, the only rule to remember is that there are no rules. And since you’ve already got the theme worked out (twinkling lights and fragrant forest greens), the planning is partially done.

Here are a few things that we think make these gatherings so special.
Seasonal Selections – Most every holiday gathering includes at least one bottle of sparkling wine or Champagne. For light gatherings, Champagne cocktails are especially fun when served in stemware with specialty charms. You know, those cute little baubles and silicone silhouettes that keep you from drinking from someone else’s flute. Why not pick up a set of harlequin mask wine charms inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey?
Wine Lighting – Want to give your celebration some extra ambiance? Here’s a nifty DIY trick that won’t break the bank. If you have a few empty wine bottles laying around (and we know you do), they can easily be converted into festive luminescent decorations. If you’re crafty, you can fill your bottles with mini lights or use LED cork bottle toppers that are readily available from several online sources.
Decorative Wine Bottle Apparel – So, you’re all dressed up, but what about your bottles? The holiday season is the perfect time to buy some fancy beaded bottle covers. They’re inexpensive and come in an array of colors that are perfect for catching the light and sharing in your festivities.

Now that you’ve got the décor worked out, it’s time to talk wine and food. Thought we forgot, didn’t you? Here, there’s no right or wrong choice. Simply select bottles you enjoy and offer your friends something delicious, daring, or unexpected.
Going Sweet – Perhaps your new love is a sweet late harvest Riesling. Now’s the perfect time to share it because it makes a perfect dessert accompaniment or alternative (think caramel apple tarts or raspberry-topped cheesecake). Just remember to pair sweet wines with desserts that are equally sweet (or the dessert will overpower the wine).
Bountiful Bubbles – If sparkling wines are your passion, then a creamy cheese platter with grapes, figs, and strawberries is a great choice. Your precious bubblies also pair well with seafood (just keep the sauce light).
Rich, Rewarding Reds – Finally, for that Cabernet Sauvignon you’ve been babying for the last few years, dark chocolate is a must (like anyone needs an excuse to enjoy that). The tannins in aged wines tend to be softer, which makes them pair beautifully. You can also pair dark chocolate with other reds, just be sure to pick wines that are on the sweeter side, so that the flavors are similar. (Little known insider tip: many wineries serve chocolate with Cabernet Sauvignon when guests come for wine tastings because the flavors complement each other so well.)
So, whether you’re planning an appetizer or dessert-centric party, your options are endless. Doing a little pre-party research and tasting can help you find the best fit (and we’re pretty sure you won’t mind the effort).
Merry Friendsmas from all of us at HouseVines!