Wine as we know it is even older than John McCain—and as I'm sure you're aware, that's one serious landmark. In fact, the beverage predates the era in which the ancient Romans started making it with grapes. Celtic societies have been drinking it for centuries in the form of something called mead, a honey-based concoction known today as a dessert wine. The buzz back then was that it also increased virility, which, of course, is why I jumped (very quickly) at the chance to try it.
But first things first. Chaucer's Cellars, run by the Bargetto Winery out of Soquel, Calif., makes a very good mead, with the sweetness and ripeness you'd expect from a honey-based product. Like all dessert wines, it's perfectly fine by itself—but this one also makes a decent pairing with delicacies like the fruit tarts your hosts will be trotting out for the holidays. And if this were North Dakota, I'd tell you to throw a bunch of spice sticks into your wine glass to ward off the winter chill. As it is, a squirt of lemon or lime works just fine in these climes (unless, of course, you'd like to give the former a shot and impress your relatives with your knowledge the next time you visit Minot).
You can get your very own bottle of mead for $10.99 at BevMo and all the cooler wine places—it's a smooth addition to your holiday fare, and after drinking it, you can go about your day secure in the knowledge that you've just experienced a brush with antiquity. The two-member jury's still out on the virility part—and she and I are sequestering ourselves until we can straighten this thing out, if you catch my drift. Don't wait up.