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My grandmother liked to describe herself as “an old East Texas farmer woman.” By the time she died at age 85 in 1981, she’d lived through a lot of this country’s history: the Spanish-American War, the Great Depression, several recessions and as many stock market bubbles, the civil rights movement and two world wars, plus Korea and Vietnam. She was, fortunately for her, a very sturdy and resilient lady — who, fortunately for us, also happened to be a highly gifted cook. Whatever was going on in the world, I always knew that I could count on the warmth of her kitchen and the restorative effects of her cuisine. Though my grandmother had long since moved to town by the time I was a small boy, the various members of her extended family would often stop by for a chat and drop off fresh meat and produce: eggs, buttermilk, butter, chickens, sides of beef, you name it. The vegetables, she raised herself. The fish, she caught with a cane pole out of the local lakes and streams. As my mother used to say of her own young adulthood during World War II: The country might have gone to hell in a handbasket, but nothing was wanting on the table. It was at Christmas, though, that my grandmother really strutted her stuff. She never agonized over anything, being utterly serene in the kitchen. But she did take the greatest pride in her cooking. No, there weren’t any black truffles in her dressing, but there was butter and cream galore. Christmas Day lunch was a veritable feast: a turkey, roasted to perfection; potatoes and yellow squash; cornbread; and, to top it off, several kinds of dessert, ranging from truly exquisite pecan pies — my grandmother gathered the pecans from the big trees in her yard — to mouth-watering peach cobblers. No, we did not want — save for wine. Ours was a “dry county.” Perhaps that’s why, in my dotage, I’ve tried to make up for the “parched years” of my early life. Here, then, is my Christmas selection of All-American wines for this most special of days. Be safe. Be good. Enjoy. CHRISTMAS DAY TREATS Sparklers (aperitif wines) � 1993 Domaine Carneros “Le R�ve” ($46) � 1994 Roederer Estate “L’Ermitage” ($39) Sauvignon blanc (for shellfish) � 1998 Robert Mondavi “To-Kalon” ($35) � 1997 Peter Michael “L’Apr�s Midi” ($45) Chardonnay (for fish or turkey) � 1998 Talbott “Sleepy Hollow” ($40) � 1997 Peter Michael “Mon Plaisir” ($70) Pinot Noir (for salmon or turkey) � 1997 Beaux Fr�res ($75) Cabernet sauvignon (for turkey or roasts) � 1998 Joseph Phelps “Insignia” ($91) � 1997 Beaulieu “Georges de Latour” ($100) � 1995 Ridge “Montebello” ($120) Zinfandel (for roasts, lamb chops, steak — or contemplation) � 1998 Ridge “York Creek” ($30) � 1998 Ridge “Geyserville” ($30)

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