chandon-singles

Wines for Easter & Spring Celebrations : The Today Show

Easter is a joyous day celebrating family, faith and friends. But, the kids don’t have to be the only ones enjoying goodies. From greens to eggs & ham to lamb, these affordable spring sips will make your gathering shine.

 

TO START…

Chandon Brut Sparkling Wine, California (single serving size $6-7)

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The famed Napa Valley-based California sparkling house, Chandon, is a serious bubbly producer, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. These mini bottlings — each serving about a glass — are all about fun. Dry but crisp and fruity, this sparkler is ideal alongside Easter brunch from start to finish.

 

WITH GREENS…

2015 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viogner, California $12-15

As one of California’s most unique blends pairing Chenin Blanc from California’s Clarksburg area with Viognier from Lodi, I’ve long been a fan of this white wine. Fresh and zesty with a whisper of sweetness, it’s the ideal choice with fresh-from-the-garden green salads, spring asparagus and a crudité appetizer platter.

 

WITH EGGS…

2016 Fleurs de Prairie Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France $15

 

This newly-launched wine captures the essence of southern French pinks – delicate, aromatic and stylish. The name means wildflowers and just looking at the beautiful bottle takes you on a virtual visit to Provence while adding a touch of class to your table. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, it’s a wine to pair alongside the earthiness of a mushroom omelet with melted brie cheese. Make sure to stock up, though, as it will disappear tout suite!

 

WITH HAM…

Kim Crawford Rose of Merlot, New Zealand $18

 

Look to New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay for a hearty pink made with Merlot. Kim Crawford is a Kiwi staple and their succulent take on rosé marries seamlessly with the sweetness of ham basted with a brown sugar glaze.

 

2015 Cloudline Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon $18

 

 

You will not find a better under-$20 pinot noir than this wine. Period. Made by the talented hands of Veronique Boss-Drouhin of Domaine Drouhin fame, the fruit hails from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The red is elegant, spicy and silky. We know pigs and pinot are the perfect pairing, but this is a beauty for Easter ham…and beyond.

 

WITH LAMB…

2014 JAM Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, California $18

 

What’s better than LAMB & JAM? This succulent, fruit-o-licious wine pairs with lamb’s rustic flavors while offsetting its earthy richness. The full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon also goes from main course to dessert as it has a touch of sweet, dark berry fruit notes to pair with chocolate.

I recommend making a simple wine glaze by reducing one cup of wine then add a spoonful of grape jam. Simmer until thickened then give a dash of balsamic vinegar to add complexity. You can use on the lamb or swirl the glaze into premixed brownies before baking to make a grown-up Easter treat.

There’s a myriad of wines and ways to celebrate any of your spring celebrations this year. Be it ham or lamb, eggs or greens, enjoy my favorite wines in my favorite season!

And remember, the upcoming season is SUMMER!

 

 

 

 

holiday gift guide

2016 Wine Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again! Time to wonder what to get the boozehound in your life… you know, the one who loves their wine, thinks craft beer is the only beer and loves a nip of an interesting liquor. Well have no fear, my holiday gift guide is sure to impress with the spirit of the holidays. (See what I did there? Spirit? Ha)

So without further ado, I bring you the 2016 Wine/Spirit Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide.

Flora Springs “Holiday Kisses” $57 

This gorgeous hand-etched bottle is home to a beautifully juicy cabernet blend, joining the flavors of Flora Springs’ estate vineyards. Bring it as a hostess gift to that holiday soiree or save it for the holiday table, but either way, enjoy both the beauty of the bottle and the wine within.

Holiday gift guide flora springs

 

California Classics

california wines holiday gift guide

 

This trio of California Classic wines features the 2014 Groth Chardonnay, 2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel, and the 2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir. Each of these wines is a standout on their own, but would make a great gift basket all together, especially to showcase the beautiful wine that California has to offer.

The 2014 Groth Chardonnay $30 is a well-balanced example of true California Chardonnay, aged in a mixture of old and new barrels, which gives it layers of complexity. Grab a bottle for your favorite white drinker or just sip while you contemplate all the holiday wrapping you have to do.

2014 Dry Creek Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel $32 – At this price point, you should be grabbing a bottle of this complex and spicy Old Vine Zin for everyone on your holiday gift list. Heck, forget the bottle, grab a case.

2012 Goldeneye Pinot Noir $58 – For a little more of a splurge, try this classic Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley. With help from the Mendocino Coast, this wine is the créme de la créme of the Goldeneye harvest and is a truly elegant gift for any Pinot lover.

Give a Little Gifft

With the influx of holiday parties, gift baskets to give and general merriment of the holiday season, it’s always nice to arrive a bottle in hand. The Inglenook Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 ($75) is a beautiful wine, highly aromatic and the perfect gift for the discerning wine lover in your holiday gift giving lineup.

On the white side of things, the Gifft Pinot Grigio 2015 is full of lush tropical flavors, bright acidity and at $20 is an elegant choice to bring to any holiday party, to drink or for the hostess to save for herself.

Kosher Wines for Hannukah

Need to bring wine to a Hannukah celebration? Terrenal Wines are Kosher and non-mevushal, which means the wine is actually delicious. And available at Trader Joes for an amazing price point (under $10).

Grab a few bottles of the Cabernet Sauvignon or the red blend, excellent wines from Spain and enjoy the celebration of lights.

 

Get into the Holiday “Spirit”

Holiday gift guide Tequila Gin

Looking for a boozier option for your holiday gift? Look no further than G’Vine Gin ($34) or Blue Nectar Tequila ($60).

G’Vine Gin($34) is a modern-style French gin, infused with vine flowers and over 9 different botanicals to give it a smooth, herbaceous taste, with hints of juniper, cardamom and ginger.

Blue Nectar Tequila Reposado, Extra Blend ($60) is the cognac of tequilas. A sipping spirit for the true Tequila connoisseur,  Blue Nectar is silky smooth, with notes of vanilla and nutmeg and other holiday spices.

 

Trendsetting Spirits

 

Do you know someone who sports a beard? Wears flannel yet doesn’t work in forestry? You might have to buy a gift for a hipster. If that’s the case, try these super-interesting small batch spirits from Northern California.

No: 209 Barrel Reserve Gin ($47) is a gin with “wine country roots”. Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels, this gin is spicy, with notes of toffee and caramel and is sure to impress the trendiest trendsetter in your life.

Re:Find [e] Vodka ($35) is another unique barrel aged spirit, but instead of wine barrels, this vodka is aged in whiskey barrels. This process creates a vodka that can be sipped like the finest whiskey. Unique? Totally. Trendsetting? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely.

The Party Pack

Butter Toast Jam Jam Cellars Holiday Gift Guide

Want to show up at your party with a party-pack? Look no further than Butter, Toast and JaM. This trio is not only adorable for gift-giving, but the wines are truly delicious. Butter ($16) is a true California Chardonnay with a creamy texture and an oaky, vanilla finish. JaM ($20), the red-head of the group, is %100 Cabernet and all plum, dark berries and vanilla. Toast ($25) is the party girl, toasty and effervescent with notes of peach and honeydew. This trio might sound good for breakfast, but is the perfect accompaniment to all of your holiday party/planning/gift giving needs.

Nibbles

crack'd toffee holiday gift guide

I’d love say that we have a product shot for this amazing toffee. But I ate it all. In like two seconds. The minute I opened the package.

So, with that in mind, if you have a sweet tooth, or know someone who does, Crack’d Toffee ($29) is the BEST present for them. It’s buttery and rich, with a variety of toppings, from white chocolate to dark. YUM.

Not to Drink, but Still Wine-Oriented

So what do you get the wine-lover that has all the wine? How about gorgeous art, boxes or even a dog dish made from wine crates? Check out our newest shop here on the site for the opportunity to buy some of these amazing pieces!

Not Boozy but Still Beautiful

Statement jewelry is still a must-buy for any time of year, especially the holidays. Pick one of these unique and gorgeous necklaces from Serendipity Sellers and the Ruth Schaffer Wave for a truly special gift for someone you love.

Ruth SChaffer - Blue Green Wave

 

Whether it’s a gift of classic Californian wines or classy art made from wine boxes, there’s something for everyone on this list. Even with only a week and a half until the big day.

 

Happy Holidays!

Thanksgiving Wines for your Holiday Dinner

Hosting a feast this year? Or maybe just an intimate Turkey Dinner with a loved one? Are you attending a feast and need to bring an impressive bottle of wine for the table? Regardless of the numbers served, a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with all of the fixings is going to need some special wine. A cacophony of flavors – sweet, salty and sour – mean that a variety of wines have a place at the table.

Bubbles

Always a great idea to start off your festivities with a bang (or a pop), bubbles always have a place at the table. Local, California sparklers, like Gloria Ferrer ($19) and Schramsberg ($27) top the list, along with a northern Italian pick called TrentoDOC. For value and quality, their vintage-dated Rosé, Rotari ($14) is a favorite. 

Whites

With such a mix of flavors in the meal, a big, oaky, buttery Chardonnay doesn’t quite fit in. But if you’re a Chardonnay lover, look for one with crisp, fresh fruit flavors, like New Zealand’s, Kumeu River ($35). The often under-appreciated white star of the show however is going to be Riesling. An ideal pick for the holidays, choose a medium-dry style to pair with everything. Napa Valley’s iconic Chateau Montelena winery makes a classy,aromatic Riesling ($25) that is sure to impress.

Reds

Just like avoiding the boldness of the Chardonnay, try to avoid reds that are heavy on the oaks and tannins, like CabernetSauvignon. A better, more well-rounded choice for the table would be a Beaujolais, or the best choice, Pinot Noir.

When picking a Beaujolais, the more complex Beaujolais Cru is the way to go. Look for choices from Georges Deboeuf, such as Morgon ($17) for it’s red berry freshness and medium-body softness.

When picking a Pinot Noir, look to both California and Oregon’s Willamette Valley for world class examples. Domaine Drouhin’s Pinot Noir from the Dundee Hills ($40) is an excellent example of a blend of Old World and New World, while Goldeneye Pinot Noir ($55), from the Anderson Valley, is an elegant choice.

lost colony virginia dare winery thanksgivingA great hostess gift for Thanksgiving has to be The Lost Colony ($28) from Virginia Dare Winery. A blend of Syrah, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc, it showcases dark berry fruitiness with soft and supple tannins. Tannic wine (think young Cabernet Sauvignon) conflicts with the spicy, often sweet and salty fare laid out at Thanksgiving. So, this juicy, full-bodied-but-balanced blend will work throughout the whole meal.

Rosé

Rosé is the perfect Thanksgiving wine, versatile and delicious, and a truly year-round wine. It goes well with almost all dishes and one of the best for the holiday drinking AND gift giving is Gifft from Kathie Lee Gifford. It is dry yet succulent with savory spice notes and at $15 a bottle is perfect to grab by the case! gifft rose thanksgiving wines

 

Dessert Wine

Don’t be afraid to open a dessert wine for your Thanksgiving guests. Serving apple and pumpkin pie? Skip the overly sweet wines and pour Schramsberg’s Cremant Demi-Sec sparkling wine ($40), or a Moscato D’Asti (the real Italian stuff).

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With all of these choices for your Thanksgiving table, you’ll be sure to impress and amaze your guests, whether there be 2 or 20.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For a more in-depth list of my favorite holiday wines, check out the piece I did for NorthBay Woman. (Look at page 44 for my article)

 

 

Spirit-tips-leslie-sbrocco

Cinco de Mayo | Drinking Tequila!

It’s Cinco de Mayo, do you know what you’re drinking? Most people choose margaritas and tequila as their go-to drink for this festive holiday, but do you know how that magical elixir actually got into that bottle? Watch as I explain the nuances of tequila and which ones you’ll want to drink straight (from the bottle??) or mix into your favorite festive cocktail.

 

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

 

holiday-gift-guide

Holiday Gift Guide : Part One | Fashion, Food and Fun

‘Tis the season to eat, drink, shop and make merry. What better way to do that than with some of my favorite items of 2014. From wearable wine-related fashion statements and accessories to bites to savor, these selections make ideal gifts (treat yourself to one or two, as well).

Happy Holidays!

Leslie

 

Wine Wardrobe: Create your own style with these beautiful wine-themed wearable art items

 

Olive and Poppy – Cheers to the Sweet Life Necklace $74

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I’m a jewelry lover and when I first saw these beautiful pieces with a northern California wine country feel, I was impressed. The quality is top notch and the designs unique. The company was founded by Napa Valley residents, Anne Siegel and Nicole Hughes, and as they tell it “The name Olive and Poppy is inspired by the vibrant, visual representations of the two parts of nature that are synonymous with wine countries throughout the world. Come spring, there are always thousands of colorful poppies growing right alongside the groves of olive trees that line winery driveways.” Cheers.

 

Crawford Denim for Robert Mondavi Private Selection – Vintners Shirt  $135

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Everyone needs a high-quality denim piece in his or her wardrobe and this shirt fits the bill. Created by artisan producer, Crawford Denim, the richly-textured shirt can be worn belted over leggings or open in a coat style. The collar and accompanying bandana gains its deep purple hue from using Robert Mondavi Private Selection’s blend, Heritage Red, as a dye. Go ahead and splurge…you deserve it.

 

The Grateful Girls – Jerry Garcia-inspired Silk Scarf — $25

jerry garcia scarfWhether you know the classic band, The Grateful Dead, I bet you’ve heard of the band’s icon, Jerry Garcia. He was a musician, wine lover, and artist who made his home in northern California’s wine country (and at one point even had his own wine label). Now, two inventive ladies named, The Grateful Girls, have taken Garcia’s art to a line of scarves. They’re festive and affordable making an ideal gift for friends and family.

 

Delicious Bites from Sweet to Spicy: These mouthwatering treats will impress for less

 

Chateau Bakery – Clair de Lune Cookies

Large container $28 or 4 Small Containers for $16

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I’m not a big chocolate or dessert eater, but you put some butter cookies in front of me and I melt. These are the best I’ve ever tasted. Chateau Bakery makes the Clair de Lune cookies with an original family recipe dating to their European family bakery started in 1989. Today, owner and baker Esther Buss, continues the tradition with these melt-in-your mouth bites. Only five ingredients are used to make the cookies: cane sugar, flour, butter, sea salt and vanilla. Purity pays off and you will fall in love. (You can kiss me later!)

 

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Maille Old Style Mustard – $5.00

Dijon mustard is my go-to condiment. I put it on everything from cheese to chicken as it’s so food-friendly, adding a dash of acidity to dishes making most pair much better with wine. Maille (pronounced My) mustard is a French classic started in 1747 by Antoine Maille. He went on to supply the European Royal courts with mustard and vinegar. Though I consider the “Old Style” whole grain Dijon a staple, the company has not been stuck in the past, launching delicious new styles like the Honey Dijon and Honey Dijon with Modena Balsamic. Amazing.

Paulie’s Pickling – Spicy Green Beans $8.00

I discovered this small San Francisco spot when shooting my show, Check Please! Owners Liz and Paul Ashby are East Coast transplants that have created a pickling business and sandwich shop that will have you making pilgrimages to the city to find their fare. The spicy green beans are just that – packing a serious pickle punch. Try them in Bloody Mary’s with a dash of their homemade horseradish.

Piment d’Ville – 1.2 oz tin $15.00

Next to my stove I have four items: olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and Piment d’Ville. I discovered the spicy treat while dining in Boonville, California at the Boonville Hotel’s Table 128 restaurant. Locally grown from seed and hand harvested in Boonville, it’s from a pepper known as piment d’espelette from the Basque region of southern France. It’s fiery yet sweet and oh so delicious.

Wine Whimsy: the affordable accessories add flair to any gift bag

 

Holiday Gift Guide (5 of 8) 

Capa Bubbles – $15.95

Capabunga is a product I use daily. What is it? As winemaker owners and inventors Máire Murphy and Walt Averill describe it, “Capabunga is a reusable silicone cap that reseals a bottle of wine after you remove the cork. Once you remove the cork and re-seal the bottle, it is liquid tight and the bottle can rest on its side or even upside down without leaking.” They have recently added a CapaBubbles topper and fun glass tags called GlassWhere by CapaBunga ($11.95) to their lineup. Stock up on all their useful items for yourself, too.

Ring for a Drink BellPier 1 Imports or Cost Plus World Market $6.00

I buy a stash of these whimsical bells with the saying “Ring for a Drink”. Given with a bottle of wine, it makes a clever and inexpensive gift.

Wine Writers

Wine Glass Writers –$9.95

The proliferation of wine charms – rings that look like jewelry and that hook on wine glass stems — has always confused me. Many of them are pretty, but as soon as you have a few glasses you tend to forget if your glass was the one with the cork charm or the cheese slice charm. Have no fear, use these pens to write your names on the glass then simply wash off with a sponge.

 

 

Love these ideas? Then stay tuned for the rest of the week as I look at my favorite wines, spirits, splurges and saves.

Happy holidays!