Aside from that brief flirtation with vegetarianism back in college, I've eaten turkey on Christmas day every year of my life. Well, until this year, when we mixed things up, opting for both salmon and pot roast over the hassle of cooking yet another bird. But the work with the new menu and the edible accoutrement meant that I didn't spend a lot of time considering what we'd be drinking with dinner, so I was psyched and a little amused when one of our guests arrived with a bottle of 2010 Layer Cake Shiraz.
It's a bottle I'm familiar with, because I've also arrived at other people's houses with one in hand. Sure, at $15 it's a little more expensive than most of the usual wines from Trader Joe's that you drink regularly, but the bottle, which is big, heavy and elegant, looks fancy, and makes for a nice offering. The wine inside has a gorgeous purple color, and while it's not the most complex in the world, it's certainly predictable and potent, strong and smoky, with plenty of berry to round things out, perhaps making it more appropriate with the roast than with the fish.
But the reason I was amused is that I know from experience that the bottle looks expensive. Layer Cake gives the appearance of luxury at an affordable price, and what's inside is good enough to deserve it. It's sort of the perfect gift for the new economy: It looks great, it's reasonably inexpensive and the end result is a solid bottle of wine. Consider picking one up the next time you have a party to attend, because you might come out looking like you dropped a little more on your hosts than you actually did.
And if they're familiar with Layer Cake—or they just happened to read this column—then, at the very least, they'll appreciate that even though you didn't break the bank, they're still getting something good.
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