2009 Host's Guide to Fine Wines, Spirits, and Entertaining

    Easing the Party Pang
    Other than the organization of a state visit to China, no more delicate diplomatic dance exists than that performed by the host of a formal event during the busiest time of the year. A date and time must be set and a guest list compiled, then edited, with an eye toward separating the extroverts from the introverts, the wits from the nitwits, and the walkers (that is, escorts) from those who require walkers to scale the front steps. And these tasks are merely preliminaries. Florists and caterers must be retained, musicians engaged, and so on—all before one begins the real work of meeting and greeting, wining and dining, and finally herding guests home when the party ends. To ease the burdens of entertaining, we have assembled this modest tome, our 2009 Host’s Guide, which is designed to help party-plagued readers select the finest wines and spirits. Our list of 100 wines details our favorite recent releases—superb reds and whites for gift-giving, fine dining, and casual sipping—and our list of spirits is distilled down to the best of class. In addition, we present six special cocktails, concocted by six of the nation’s most creative bartenders, to enliven the home bar. Finally, we offer stylish tabletop ideas from several top designers and some thoughts on the artful invitation.

    100 Perfect Pours
    Treasures of the vine.

    Spirited Diversions
    A celebration of gifts from the still.

    Setting Pretty
    Five interior designers set the table.

    The Art of the Invitation
    Saying ‘‘Please join us" rel="nofollow" in style.

    This young-drinking Perbacco shows Barolo’s softer side…
    Proceeds from the sampling of five rare Japanese whiskeys will go to relief efforts in Nepal…
    Photo by Mark French
    Hanyu Ichiro’s Card Series is a full deck of single malts from a famous but shuttered distillery…
    Photo by Randall Cordero
    This delectable pinot from Central California has a touch of sweetness and an acidic finish…
    The world’s longest-serving malt master has masterfully combined some of the Balvenie’s top stocks…
    A blend of 26-year-old Scotch whisky from two bygone distilleries keeps their legacy alive…
    Photo by Randall Cordero
    Fifth-generation winemaker Joseph Wagner crafts a Burgundian beauty from three California counties…
    Fight through the bourbon shortage with these overproof whiskeys…
    Even though the spirit contains tequilas up to 49 months old, it is completely translucent…
    The whiskey was aged for 17 years in three different environments…