“Sometimes we hide our wine in brown bags so our friends aren’t swayed by the labels,” says Maria Helm Sinskey. Especially when one of the bottles is an exquisite $80 Cabernet from Robert Sinskey Vineyards, which Maria owns with her husband, Rob. Tonight, though, all bottles stand unmasked. It’s Christmas, and for Maria, it’s the best time to present a cast of wines―with the king of reds in the lead role.
A former chef at San Francisco’s PlumpJack Cafe, Maria has written two cookbooks, including just-released Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen (Oxmoor House, 2008; $33). Now she’s on track to sit for the Masters of Wine test next spring. (There are only 277 MWs in the world; none of them works as a professional chef.)
But it doesn’t take a professional to turn out Maria’s Christmas menu. And it doesn’t take an $80 bottle to revel in this food and wine pairing. It just takes some planning, and more than one Cab. You can hold the bags―or not.
Stick with casual, natural decor: Maria sets out a bay laurel table runner and napkin sprigs, plus amaryllis blooms, with festive red-pink accents.