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WINE

Christmas Wine & Cupcakes - Now & Later
updated: Dec 22, 2012, 11:00 AM

By Marc Liberts

The last 18 hours have been very good for me. While on a teleconference yesterday, there was a knock at my front door. I excused myself from the teleconference and answered the door. It was my friendly UPS driver needing a signature for a package tucked under his arm (usually a good sign). I signed for the package, slipped back into the teleconference, and quietly opened the package. Lo and behold, out from the box emerged one bottle of DOMAINE VACHERON-POUIZIN, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Le Clos du Caillou, Réserve, 2010. This is a very rare, impossible to get, and 99 point rated wine! The only problem is that the wine critics suggest cellaring this 99 point rated wine until 2015! So, I dutifully made space in my wine cooler today, and wrote 2015 on the label.

I returned to the teleconference and was so bored that I decided to troll around Facebook to see if anything interesting was going on. My friend Melissa Comito posted a picture of some delicious looking cupcakes she had just baked. But, living in Santa Maria, I knew my chances of scoring one were remote. I nonetheless posted the following comment "Excited - Excited - Excited!", hoping that it would give me some luck. To my amazement, I got a text message this morning that she was indeed going to be in Santa Barbara, and would I like one? Score!

Melissa dropped by, gave me my cupcake, and had to run. It was excellent. I called her after I devoured it to interview her about it. It turns out that the cupcake itself was from a mix and she had applied a secret tweak or two. The cupcake was moist and supple. I usually don't like cupcakes because they tend to be too wet, too dry, or uneven. This one was perfect. I am also a big icing critic. I don't like the icing that comes in a can from the store because I think it is too sweet. Most people who try to make their own icing fail for any number of reasons. Melissa's home made icing was perfect! Not too sweet, perfect creaminess, luscious, delicious! Finally, there was a piece of chocolate with the outline of a Christmas tree on top. I also usually am critical of this type of adornment because there is usually little care or effort taken to make the adornment good! It is usually dry, tasteless, or badly prepared. I decided to give this one a fair appraisal, and it was great! Nice silky milk chocolate, appropriately moist, nicely designed, delicious! Perfection! I asked her how she did it and she reported "It's actually just melted down chocolate. I put it into a bag, let it get to a cool enough temp so that it doesn't run everywhere and just piped designs onto wax paper. Then I let them cool in the fridge for a little bit to harden and put them on the cupcakes."

Those of you who read my wine articles will appreciate the fact that I am giving these cupcakes a score of 99 points. The only deduction was due to the fact that I was only given one cupcake to evaluate. I'm sure that the baker can improve on that defect next year.

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