Raise your hand if you’re tired of the holidays already. The rude traffic, the tackle-football shopping, and the inescapable holiday jingles make me want to curl up with a bottle and emerge when it’s over. Perhaps I have a case of seasonal dysfunction, but since I can’t afford to check into Betty Ford, I can use her alcoholic coping mechanism as a mood enhancer. Yes, I believe wine can mellow holiday annoyances, like so:
1. Holiday parties. To prepare yourself for tired artichoke dip and meatballs in sweet mystery sauce that defy wine pairing to begin with — plus the fact that few people serve decent wine at parties — always follow one rule of thumb: BYOW. One to give, one to drink. If you practice safe wine, things can be merry and bright. (Ideas of what to bring)
2. Last-minute shopping. First, stop at the mall’s restaurant for a couple of glasses. Doesn’t matter what time or what wine – the alcohol will come to your aid when you have to battle the chick fighting for the last available iPad 6, 7 or whatever new gadget Apple has released this year. Against your liquid courage, that bitch has no chance. Or better yet, avoid the mall, start early and shop online. No one will bug you then.
3. Undesirable family. This is when wine arrives in a superhero costume. To handle the anal-retentive mother, the grizzly, macho father and neurotic siblings, all one needs is a tall glass of preferably inexpensive (for volume), red wine. It’s amazing what you won’t care about.
4. Office holiday parties. Unless you work for a cool company offering a top-shelf open bar, company holiday parties invariably serve miser-ably bad wine. Take drastic action – drink beer or cocktails. Stay away from the scary punch.
5. Tree trimming. Stoke the holiday spirit by heating up a batch of spiced, mulled wine: red wine, orange juice, sugar, cinnamon and cloves (great recipe here). Invite friends over. Proceed to get wasted and neglect the tree. Better yet, join the millions of Americans who are buying the pre-decorated fake ones – tacky? Yes. Utilitarian, absolutely.
6. Holiday cards. To really tell Aunt Ethel what you think of her and her tangerine-colored lipstick, drink a high-alcohol zinfandel before writing out the card. Seal and mail it before you sober up. Prepare for the fireworks display in a week or so. Duck.
7. Eating. To wash down the ubiquitous bricklike fruitcakes, generic cookies and waxy, cheap chocolate, always have a bottle of sparkling wine on hand. Refreshing bubbles, especially those with a tad of sweetness, make everything taste better. (See The Best Bubbly for the Buck)
8. Weight gain. Ignore it – diet after the holidays. (See Fitting Wine Into a Healthy Diet)
9. Dressing up. Since the pounds are adding up, you may need to dig out the glittering “fat clothes” from the closet. Drown your sorrows with a glass of lighter white wine. See No. 8.
10. Holiday music. Drown out the incessant chestnuts roasting, jingle bells and holly jolly with a bit of bubbly. Explore the season’s great bargains on sparkling wines, so you hear the “pop!” instead of the drone. (See The Best Bubbly for the Buck)
11. Wrapping presents. Who thought this up? The gift wrapper lobby? I ease my annoyance with this least favorite activity with lubricating red wine. But pry it out of your hand before you tie the bows.
12. Clean the aftermath. To cleanse yourself of the havoc that barraged your life, a good cathartic house-scrubbing is in order. To make it easier to swallow, chill a bottle of Chardonnay (some good ones), and drink it as a reward when finished.