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Holidays on ice

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Acclaimed essayist and Raleigh native David Sedaris uses dark humor to get through life's curveballs and outright ridiculous circumstances, many involving his quirky family. The title of his seasonal favorite, Holidays on Ice, alludes to tipping back the bottle to survive the holidays. I can surely relate: The other day, my sister and I were discussing how our family of endearing oddballs would be perfect for a reality TV show. I'm not condoning alcoholism; however, there are a few events coming up that can cure holiday cabin fever with just a few swigs.

Amra's (106 Glenwood Ave., 828-8488, www.amrasraleigh.com) in Raleigh serves up the hard stuff this month at a couple of noteworthy charitable events, and it's on the house. The bluesy, grown-up cigar lounge hosts a Chivas scotch tasting Dec. 8 and a bourbon variety tasting Dec. 15, both complimentary. Each event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. During the tastings, donations will be accepted for the Wine to Water charity, led by North Carolina's very own "CNN Hero" Doc Hendley. The nonprofit helps the more than one billion people around the world who lack access to adequate water and sanitation. Through fundraising events like wine tastings, Wine to Water has helped provide clean water to countries including Sudan, India, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Haiti. Visit www.winetowater.org for more information.

Also in Raleigh, Seaboard Wine & Tasting Bar (802 Semart Drive, Suite 118, 831-0850, www.seaboardwine.com) breaks out the bubbly to jump-start the holiday season. Their annual champagne tasting is Thursday, Dec. 3, from 7 to 9 p.m. The tasting will feature champagnes as well as sparkling wines from Italy, France, Austria, Spain and the U.S. Light hors d'oevres are included. Tickets are $25, and reservations should be made to secure a spot. On that night, all wines tasted will be discounted for purchase: 10 percent by the half case (six bottles) and 15 percent by the full case (12 or more bottles). That's at least six to 12 holiday gifts for friends and family, plus a trip to the crowded mall that you can avoid.

For a foodie, an exquisite meal accompanied by a perfectly matched glass of champagne is a real treat. Acme Food & Beverage Co. (110 E. Main St., 929-ACME, www.acmecarrboro.com), one of Carrboro's beloved fine dining establishments, hosts a champagne dinner Sunday, Dec. 6. For $70 per person, four courses and dessert are each paired with a champagne imported by Ed Addiss for Chapel Hill Wine Co. A full menu can be found on the Chapel Hill Wine Co. Web site via http://is.gd/53zCD. Acme's weekly e-mail newsletter included this festive line to lure you into champagne bliss: "Think of it as visions of sugarplums for grown-ups. Bring someone you love." Reservations are highly recommended; the event is expected to sell out.

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