Santa doesn't get milk in my house. Instead, on Christmas Eve my family always sets out a plate of cookies with two glasses—one filled with sherry and the other with port. Growing up in Sonoma County, it always seemed perfectly logical to me. No one in my family drank milk—we drank wine with dinner and on special occasions, like birthdays or Christmas, we drank port with dessert. Why anyone would force Santa to eat his cookies with a bland glass of milk rather than a sweet and supple glass of port that so perfectly paired with my mother’s peanut butter blossom cookies was beyond me. But I figured my parents just knew Santa (and wine) better than other families. The port also provided an explanation as to why Santa never wrapped the presents for my siblings and me—he was too buzzed to even attempt it.
That’s why I love that Churchill’s, a British port producer, opened a pop-up port bar in London during the holidays. Located in the city's trendy, theater- and restaurant-packed Soho neighborhood, the festive bar offers a variety of ports like the mellow 20 year-old tawny and fruity 1997 vintage along with the brand’s Duoro table wines. There is also a menu of port-friendly tapas like Iberian ham and garlic shrimp (no cookies, unfortunately). For the port-drinking neophyte, Churchill’s winemaker John Graham will lead educational tastings. The Churchill’s Port House runs through February 2 and opens for lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday. Sadly, I will not be able to jet over to the bar; instead I’ll have to make do with a glass from Santa’s bottle.