Behind-the-Scenes Dish with Top Chef's Ted Allen

iVillage: Are there any other holiday entertaining tips you can share?

Ted Allen: I'll share with you my favorite idea for a wine gift....My family is exceedingly bad at giving gifts. You just get lazy, and you live in different states, and you're not quite sure what each other is into anymore. But my sister is raising a family in the midwest and she's not close to any especially great wine shops. Plus, she's just busy. So one year I had the idea: Why don't I go to the wine store with $100, and say to the guy, "Give me three reds and three whites that you can't find in central Indiana." Or maybe there's something that's new that you're excited about, that you just discovered. It's great because you go in with your budget — you can get one bottle that's $35 and one bottle that's $10 — but here's the key part: I take notes from the wine person and I say, "What should this wine be paired with?" So I can give her a red Zinfandel, and I write a little tag with a ribbon — I'm getting Martha Stewart-y on you now — and I punch a hole in the card and tie the ribbon around the wine, and on the Zinfandel it'll say, "Pizza night: This wine is great with sausage pizza. It's got a little bit of spice in it, it's big and bold and red, it goes nicely with tomato flavors." So it's got a little wine pairing guide with suggested foods right there on the bottle. I think it's a fabulous gift. And you can do it at any price point you want, you can do three bottles, you can do one bottle.

 

MAIN: Ted Allen dishes on Top Chef and entertaining

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