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J. Lohr's 2013 Seven Oaks cabernet sauvignon and Kreuzberg's Peppermint Mocha Latte 

Chili recipes don’t usually call for wine, but when you have a really good bottle of cab just sitting on the counter, why not pour in a cup or two and see what happens? This was my lip-smacking thought as I allowed the mixture of ground bison, beans, tomato, spices, and 2013 J. Lohr Seven Oaks cabernet sauvignon to simmer on the stove for an hour, filling the whole house with meaty goodness. When I finally tried the winning concoction (meat crazed and blood thirsty), I was blown away. The ripe, cherry flavor in this Paso-grown favorite added an enticing, fruity depth of flavor that has changed the way I will make chili forever. And, of course, I knew just what to pair the entrée with! Drink this impeccable, reliable red table wine with whatever you choose, but I have a feeling it could have similarly awesome applications in beef Bolognese or winter stew. Just saying.

J. Lohr’s 2013 Seven Oaks cabernet sauvignon—$16 a bottle; 6169 Airport Road, Paso Robles. 

No matter what you think about those conspicuously sparse red Starbucks cups, we can all agree on one thing. Peppermint was meant for mocha. Period! You will spend one hard-earned, crisp five dollar bill on this festive, artfully topped latte, but at least you will know it was made by a local barista who could not care less what your holiday orientation is. Tip: Get it “for here” and you will also be served a teeny tiny cookie alongside an adorable wee spoon perfect for edging out that last bit of minty froth. Not into such rich holiday delights? You’re crazy … but you might want to try the coffee house’s hot See Canyon cider. It’s a staff favorite. Happy (insert holiday here)!

Kreuzberg’s Peppermint Mocha Latte—About $5; 685 Higuera St., SLO.

What’s your holiday go-to drink? Send thoughts to hthomas@newtimesslo.com.

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