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    Wines and Books to Gift Yourself and Others This Holiday Season

    By Leslie Sbrocco–

    With the holidays around the corner, I recommend two wines that complement meals from turkey to ham with all the trimmings. One is a splurge, the other a steal, but both are deliciously festive options.

    2019 Iron Horse “Gratitude” Blanc de Noirs, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $75

    One of California’s iconic wine producers, Iron Horse is known worldwide for its elegant sparkling and still wines. This stunning bottling is aptly named for kicking off the holiday season as we give thanks and gratitude for the blessings in our lives. Made with mostly pinot noir blended with chardonnay, the bubbly sports mouthwatering brightness, a kiss of red berry fruit notes paired with floral aromas, and a rich texture. Gratitude is also a wine with a purpose, since $5 of every bottle sold will be donated to The Redwood Empire Food Bank. This is a wine that does good while you drink well.

    2020 Cherry Pie Pinot Noir, Tri-County, California $20

    With an inviting label and catchy name, this joyously affordable wine is one to share with friends and family. Pinot noir is the perfect partner for the cacophony of flavors on the table from savory sausage stuffing and salty gravy to sweet potato casserole and tangy cranberry sauce. Made with pinot noir grapes hailing from three of California’s top cool-climate regions—Napa County’s Carneros area, Monterey County, and Santa Barbara County—it has succulently bright fruit notes that end with a kick of spice on the finish.

    Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen

    Thinking of getting a start on holiday gifts for the wine drinkers in your life? Bottles are always welcome, but I recommend books to deepen knowledge and appreciation of the fruit of the vine. These are the best new releases to read, gift, and collect (even as a gift for yourself!):

    The World in a Wineglass: The Insider’s Guide to Artisanal, Sustainable and Extraordinary Wines to Drink Now by Ray Isle (Scribner) $50

    Want to take a deep dive into top wine regions, producers, and wines with a focus on quality and sustainability? This 706-page tome is worth its weight in vinous gold. Author Ray Isle is the Executive Editor of Food & Wine magazine. His extensive knowledge is on full display as he covers familiar wine names and places while taking readers on a virtual trip to lesser-known and up-and-coming regions and producers. Written with Ray’s trademark combination of wit and wisdom, it’s a book for every wine lover’s collection.

    White Wine: The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles by Mike DeSimone & Jeff Jenssen (Countryman Press) $35

    Known as The World Wine Guys, Mike and Jeff have a signature depth of knowledge that is deliciously wrapped up in their engaging style in this fascinating and fun read. The well-known duo profile great white grape varieties of the world from A (albariño) to V (viognier) and just about everything in between. Are you a chardonnay, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or riesling drinker? They have you covered. But don’t forget other blanc treasures such as white Bordeaux and Sherry. Chapters include fun facts, food pairings, and recommended wines.

    Italian Wine: The History, Regions, and Grapes of an Iconic Wine Country by Shelley Lindgren and Kate Leahy (Penguin/Random House) $35

    If you love Italy and Italian wine, this gem of a book is a must-buy. Shelley Lindgren is an award-winning sommelier who owns Italian restaurants such as the fantastic A-16 in San Francisco. Kate Leahy is an acclaimed cookbook author. The two together have created a compelling and beautifully photographed book that’s a pleasure to read. It’s a journey through all 20 regions of Italy complete with grape variety profiles, recommendations, and regional backgrounds. 

    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,” “Check, Please! You Gotta Try This!” and “100 Days, Drinks, Dishes & Destinations.”

    Sbrocco Sips
    Published on November 16, 2023