Briny oysters on the half shell are a glorious beginning to any celebratory meal. And oysters are at their delicious best in winter; they spawn in the summer and by winter become sweetest and fattest. Use a small plate and, for an elegant restaurant touch, spread a layer of rock salt on the bottom. The salt evokes the sea and stabilizes the shells.
1/2 cup champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, coarsely crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
32 oysters on the half shell
How to Make It
Combine the vinegar, shallots, peppercorns, and tarragon; chill. Spoon sauce over oysters.
Wine note: The 2007 Willi Haag Spatlese Brauneberger Juffer Riesling ($15) is spicy and aromatic, perfect with salty oysters. —Gary Vaynerchuck