Serve guests a warm welcome with a sideboard laden with wintry favorites. (Serves 12)
Beer-Cheddar Soup
Apricot and Sherry-Glazed Ham
Truffled Parsnip Puree
Sage Dinner Rolls
Orange Bizcochitos
Pyramid Apricot Weizen

Credit: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Melanie J. Clarke

Beer Note While basic pale ale is a classic choice with cheddar, the fruity elements of the apricot-glazed ham and Orange Bizcochitos will be enhanced by a fruit beer. Many microbrewers are combining malt with the fresh flavors of apple, cherry, and even apricot. Pyramid Apricot Weizen, from Portland, Oregon, pairs distinctive apricot with wheat beer, offering a nice sweet-tart balance.

Wine Note With the ham's bold apricot and clove presence, plus the soup's vibrant beer and cheddar flavors, one wine is going to have to work hard to cover all the bases. But gewürztraminer mimics the apricot and clove and has enough body to stand up to the richness of the cheddar and beer. Gewürztraminer will even be a great match for the orange cookies. The best gewürztraminers in the world come from Alsace, France. –Karen MacNeil

Make-Ahead Strategy

Up to 3 days ahead:
• Shop for groceries.

Up to 2 days ahead:
• Bake Orange Bizcochitos; cool completely, and store in an airtight container.

Up to 1 day ahead:
• Toast bread cubes for Beer-Cheddar Soup; cool and store in an airtight container.
• Chop onion and garlic, and shred cheese for soup; refrigerate separately.
• Bake Sage Dinner Rolls; cool and store in plastic zip-top bag.

The night before:
• Set up buffet with serving pieces, dishes, glasses, cutlery, and linens.