Richard Alfaro is making the top wine lists with his 2010 Alfaro Family Lester Family Vineyards Pinot Noir. Photo by Chip Scheuer.

Congratulations to winemaker Richard Alfaro, whose 2010 Alfaro Family Lester Family Vineyard Pinot Noir is among a choice few local wines included in the SF Chronicle’s pick of Top 100 Wines of 2012. The wine, from their Deer Park vines, is a moderately affordable $38 and a spot-on 13.7% alcohol, loaded with terroir, black currants and forest tones. This is exactly the sort of locally made, desirable gift you might want to consider for someone special on your holiday list. . . Also getting the nod from the Chronicle’s critics is the amazing Kenny Likitprakong’s Ghostwriter 2010 Santa Cruz County Pinot Noir. In the non-Pinot category, Bonny Doon Vineyard’s 2010 Central Coast Grenache, the wittily named “Clos de Gilroy,” is so out-and-out appealing that it too was dubbed one of the top 100 wines. And for your ultimate recipient, consider the 2009 Ridge Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains Red. Yes, it does cost $150, but this blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Petit Verdot is considered a definitive California Cab, and it too made the Chronicle’s list of top wines of 2012.

Holiday Dinner Made Simpler: The caterers at Carried Away in Aptos offer a few mouth-watering suggestions for your Christmas table. They create the foods, then bring them to your place in disposable containers with careful instructions for reheating relevant items. You sit back and enjoy dinner with your friends and family. I’m especially drawn to the Dungeness crab and shrimp lasagna, as well as the housemade fennel sausage and beef lasagna. Guess I must have pasta on my mind. Carried Away also offers red-wine-braised boneless beef short ribs with veggies and horseradish cream, as well as sides of roasted brussels sprouts, potato-artichoke gratin and winter squash with balsamic-shallot vinaigrette. If you’re even thinking that a catered Christmas meal might be the way to go, you should call (831) 685-3926 instantly and place your order.

Tapas Tuesday @ Soif: Maybe you can do better than a beautiful plate of freshly prepared flavors, arranged with flair, loaded with unexpected texture tension and placed in front of you for three dollars, but I doubt it.  Each Tuesday Soif offers a spate of these well-conceived little $3 plates, smart enough to keep up with that glass of minerally Nikolaihof Grüner Veltliner or bold Artesana Tannat/Merlot blend. Be there.

Chutney Chutney Chutney: I know I told you to check out chutneys to serve along with holiday turkey, but I’m still going to keep nagging. Last night we had a dinner of roasted chicken, cannellini beans, carrots, mushrooms and garlic. Served in deep bowls, the flavors had an appropriate wintry magic. But judicious additions of hot mango chutney (I like Patak’s), as well as tamarind chutney (check out Neera’s), really pulled the flavors together (just like the rug in The Big Lebowski).  New Leaf offers a killer selection of chutneys. Experts have already perfected them. You simply purchase, bring home and apply to poultry, beef, pork—and, okay, probably tofu, too.