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    Sbrocco Sips

    By Leslie Sbrocco–

    (Editor’s Note: In this 2021 Pride Month issue of the San Francisco Bay Times we are proud to introduce a new column authored by multiple Emmy award winner Leslie Sbrocco, who is the host of Check, Please! Bay Area as well as 100 Days, Drinks, Dishes & Destinations on PBS. She is a recipient of the prestigious James Beard award and is the author of several best-selling books. Voted one of the Top 100 most influential people in the American wine business, Sbrocco has toured with Oprah Winfrey and is among the country’s most sought-after wine speakers.

    Sbrocco, whose daughter Grace is an out and proud member of the LGBTQ community, is a longtime ally. Many prominent members of our community have appeared as guests on Check, Please! Bay Area, including Bay Times columnist David Landis (The Gay Gourmet, also in this issue). With Liam Mayclem, another Bay Times columnist, she has generously given of her time to host ChefsGiving, a restaurant-driven fundraiser for Northern California fire relief. She has also donated her time for efforts in the fight against breast cancer. A popular, highly successful auctioneer at fundraisers, Sbrocco told The Weekly Calistogan: “I have no shame when it comes to asking for more money for charities.”

    In “Sbrocco Sips,” she will share her incomparable wine savvy concerning vino for every budget. We love that this first official article in the column series—after a soft launch in our first issue of June—includes Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé. It is a sparkler that she enjoys so much that it led to a stylish, prominent tattoo. She explains more here.)

    It’s time to celebrate with Pride! Try these recommendations for Pride parties and upcoming summer sipping.

    Beauty of Bubbles

    There’s nothing better than bubbles to celebrate and these picks span the price spectrum from steal to splurge:

    Josep Ventosa ‘Brut Nature 1941’ Cava, Spain $14

    This is a crisp, bone dry-styled Cava that packs a quality punch for the price. Cava is Spanish sparkling wine and this delicious fizz is a blend of the traditional grapes of the region: Xarello, Macabeu, and Parellada. Try with sushi for a perfect pairing.

    Dr. Loosen ‘Extra Dry’ Sekt, Mosel, Germany $25

    Sekt is German sparkling wine and it’s one to discover if you’re a bubble lover. This lightly sweet bubbly is lush and lovely. It’s made from Riesling—Germany’s signature white grape—which gives it complexity and unique aromas and flavors of orange blossom and nectarines. Saddle it up to spicy fare from Kung Pao chicken to Birria tacos.

    Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé, Champagne, France $80

    This is a splurge but one of my favorite wines in the world. I love Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé so much I actually got a tattoo of a glass of it on my right calf! It’s truly a benchmark for pink sparkling. The Brut Rosé is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir vinified as red wine making it rich and full-bodied. Pair alongside pork roast with mushrooms.

    Red, White & Pink

    Toast to the upcoming July 4th holiday with these colorful wines:

    2020 Domaine Wachau Gruner Veltliner Federspiel, Wachau, Austria $18

    Looking for something light and lively to ring in summer? This wine is it. Made from the famous grape variety of Austria—Gruner Veltliner—it’s a dry white that might be new to many wine drinkers. Aromas of lemon peel and mineral notes followed by a ping of zesty freshness showcase its unique character.

    2020 Minuty ‘M’ Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France $22

    A classic of Provence, this wine is a beauty to sip and savor in warm weather. Light and juicy with aromas of orange zest and strawberries, it’s a dry style that pairs with just about anything from your back patio to a bathtub. In terms of food pairings, think of it with tuna poke or spicy fish tacos. Pour yourself a glass of this pale pink to begin (and end) any party in style.

    2018 Blue Quail ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel, Potter Valley, Mendocino County, California $24

    Zinfandel is California’s heritage grape variety, and it produces wines of full-bodied flair. I call Zins the “black leather pants” of the wine world because they’re wild and fun. The Blue Quail is a perfect balance of spicy intensity and fresh dark berry notes wrapped together in a wine of sleek style. These old vines bring a sweet/tart character to the wine that is simply delectable.

    Uniquely Delicious

    Try these succulent discoveries for summertime sipping:

    Decoy Seltzer Chardonnay with Lemon & Ginger, California $15 (per four pack of cans)

    Wines in cans are a hot commodity these days, but how do you know you’re getting the good stuff? Look for a familiar name. These newly released wine seltzers are made with high-quality Decoy wines and come in flavors from Rosé with Black Cherry to Sauvignon Blanc & Vibrant Lime. I enjoy the exotic tones of the Chardonnay with Lemon & Ginger. At 80 calories a single-serve can and a whisper of alcohol (only 5.5%) they’re oh so easy to imbibe.  

    2019 S.A. Prüm Essence Riesling, Mosel, Germany $11

    If you enjoy wine with fruity freshness, try this affordably succulent sipper from one of Germany’s famed producers, S.A. Prüm. Riesling is a grape producing wines that range from bone dry to sweet. This one showcases a hint of sweetness that dances with vibrant acidity making it light on its feet. It will become your staple summer sipper. Prost!

    2018 Mt. Beautiful Pinot Noir, North Canterbury, New Zealand $28

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this wine is beautiful to all who see and taste it. Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s noted grape, but Pinot Noir is actually a rising star in the country. One of the rockstar Pinot producers is Mt. Beautiful. Hailing from North Canterbury on the South Island, which is surrounded by mountains and rivers, this winery crafts layered, elegant Pinot Noir with earthy intensity and red berry fruit notes. Pair it with creamy cheeses and grilled salmon and toast to the beauty in life.

    Author, speaker, wine consultant, and television host Leslie Sbrocco is known for her entertaining approach to wine and food. She has won multiple Emmy Awards for her work on PBS, which includes hosting the series “Check, Please! Bay Area” and “100 Days, Drinks, Dishes & Destinations.”

    Leslie Sbrocco Pride Photoshoot

    On a windy San Francisco morning in June by the Golden Gate Bridge, our intrepid columnist Donna Sachet with talented photographer Gareth Gooch met with new San Francisco Bay Times columnist Leslie Sbrocco and her friend and colleague (also co-owner of Kutch Wines) Kristen Green of Kristen Green Public Relations. Sachet, formerly of Saks Fifth Avenue and a fashion icon in her own right, served as stylist.

    The delicious baked goods in the photos came from Noe Valley Bakery’s Pride selection. The line now includes a Pride Cake, Got Pride? Cake (chocolate instead of vanilla frosting), a Trans Pride Cake, a Bi Pride Cake, Pride Rainbow Cupcakes, and a colorful Noe Valley Bakery Pride t-shirt.

    Sbrocco’s daughter Grace was present too, and even designed her mother’s one-of-a-kind Pride-themed shoes! (See close-up in this section.) Thanks to her and to all who made the memorable photoshoot possible during this busy Pride Month.

    Special thanks to Kristen Green, Gareth Gooch, Donna Sachet, and Noe Valley Bakery.

    Published on June 24, 2021