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).

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-47-02-pm

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)

 

 

Join Me for a Twitter Tasting with Wines of Sicily!

Save the Date!

I have partnered with Wines of Sicily and this Thursday, November 3rd, join me as we taste our way through many of the wines under the Sicilia DOC designation. We’ll be tasting and tweeting, talking about the grape varieties, the food, the region and most of all, just how incredible Sicily IS! In order to truly enjoy this tweet-tasting experience, join along by checking out our cheat sheet below and purchasing your own Sicilia DOC wine. Chime in and let us know what you think but following @winesofsicily and using the hashtag #winesofsicily 

Cheat Sheet and Shopping List

 

THE PLACE

Not only is the island ruggedly beautiful with diverse wine growing regions, Sicily’s history has been influenced by cultures from the Greeks to the Normans.

The Story of Sicily

Sicily’s Wine-growing Mosaic

 

 

THE GRAPES

From crisp, fruit-driven whites such as Grillo to chillable reds like Frappato and intensely elegant Nero d’Avola, wines made with indigenous varieties will please all palates.

Meet the Grapes

Wines of Sicily - Grapes

THE FOOD

The diversity of local dishes from caponata to cannelloni makes eating Sicilian style a treat, but these vibrant and refreshing wines go with a range of everyday dishes.

Recipe Pairings 

 

THE WINERIES:

Here are some of the top producers to put on your shopping list when buying wines from Sicily. A quick trick to find quality wines is to look for the words Sicilia DOC. 

 

Stemmari

Wines of Sicily - Stemmari

Tasca d’Almerita

Feudo Montoni

Wines of Sicily - Feudo Montoni

Donnafugata

Valle dell’Acate

Wines of Sicily - Il Frappato - Valle Della'acte

Masseria del Feudo

Baglio del Cristo di Campobello

Principi di Butera

Maggio Vini

Cottanera

Vini Gulfi

Villa Pozzi

Planeta

Mondrarossa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Halloween Wines – Ghoulish Picks for any Halloween Party

It was a dark and stormy night, with ghosts and goblins roaming the land, looking for souls to steal…

Ok, let’s be honest, those are kids out there looking for the best candy. And while they search for the ever elusive full-sized candy bar house, we’ve taken the fright out of your Halloween Party wine hunt. These devilishly delicious wine picks will satisfy the most blood thirsty vampire in your group, as well as the white wine-loving witch. Watch out for wicked cool labels and even maybe a blood (orange) cocktail as well.

Trick or Treat?

We say Trick or Drink around these parts.

all-hallowes-eve-1

(photo credits Ashley Fitting)

Flora Springs 2013 “Harvest Witch” Cabernet Sauvignon $50.00  

Flora Springs 2014 “All Hallow’s Eve” Cabernet Franc $50

These spooky labels were created for this year’s Flora Springs Halloween Wines by award-winning children’s book illustrator John Manders. These two wines, as well as the Ghost Winery Malbec, are created each year to honor Flora Spring’s designation as one of the original “ghost wineries” in Napa Valley, wineries built between 1860 and 1900 but abandoned in the early 20th century due to vine disease, the Great Depression, and Prohibition.

Spooky AND delicious.

ghost-winery-and-ghost-pines-1

Flora Springs “Ghost Winery” Malbec $55

Ghost Pines 2014 Pinot Noir Winemaker’s Blend $23

“Ghost Winery” is the third in the Flora Springs Halloween Trilogy wine and can be purchased as a 6 pack for your spooky celebration. Ghost Pines is an all-together unearthly Pinot, crafted from grapes grown in Sonoma and Monterey Counties and a delicious addition for your pinot-loving ghouls.

casillero-and-apothic-1

Casillero del Diablo 2015 “Devilish Release” Red Wine $11

Apothic Dark 2012 Red Wine $14 

The Devil is in our midst with these two intense, dark red wines. Dark and sultry, they will be a devilish addition to your Halloween table.

risque-and-chronic-1

Chronic Cellars 2015 “Eunice X” White Wine $15

Toad Hollow “Risque” Sparkling Wine $16

More fun than frightening, these white wines showcase lively and entertaining bottles to keep your guests amused. The “Risque” from Toad Hollow is a slightly sweet, effervescent wine that tickles the nose… and “Eunice X” has her super hero cape on and is ready for any party!

zombie-zin

Chateau Diana – Zombie Zinfandel $10

Chateau Diana – Zombie Chardonnay $10

Renwood Winery  – The Cleaver $20

So there are things that we will all need when the zombie apocalypse comes… a cleaver (or a bottle of Cleaver), Zombie Zin and Zombie Chard.

The Cleaver is a zinfandel blend out of Amador County that is a “the wine no meat should be served without” and Zombie wines are the creation of Dry Creek Valley’s Chateau Diana winery. The 2014 Zombie Zinfandel and 2015 Zombie Chardonnay are available in a handy two-pack that comes complete with a commemorative t-shirt making it the quintessential Zombie Apocalypse Party in a box! 

croft-and-blood-orange-1

Croft Reserve Tawny Porto $21.99

Stolen Fruit Blood Orange and Muscat Cocktail Mixer $18

Last but not least, fill your cauldron with cocktails made from Blood Orange and Muscat Stolen Fruit or a little Reserve Tawny Porto. A little sweet, a little spicy and just perfect for tantalizing those taste buds.

There’s nothing to fear for this year’s Halloween party, because at least if the ghouls, goblins, zombies and witches are afoot, you can offer them some scary-good wine.

Happy Haunting and enjoy more wine tips from my trip to atl&co!

fathers-day-wine-gifts

Father’s Day – Wine Gifts for the Dad in Your Life

Father’s Day can be perplexing, as buying gifts for men can be a challenge. The kids usually have the cute factor covered, with their arts and crafts, and frames proclaiming that “I Love Daddy”… but where does that leave the rest of us? He assuredly does not need another tie, does not want the workout clothes you’re so desperate to buy him, but probably would love a really nice bottle of wine. And whether you’re buying for your spouse, your significant other, or YOUR dad, there are some amazing wine gifts out there that will make them feel loved and appreciated this Father’s Day.

fathers-day-wine-gifts

The Classic Dad

Your dad may be as classic as old Blue Eyes, but let’s lead him toward a more modern crooner instead.

2013 LVE Cabernet Sauvignon “Legend Vineyard Exclusive” Napa Valley, California $85
LVE is a collision of superstars. John Legend, the famous musician, and Jean-Charles Boisset, the wine business’s version of a rockstar, have joined forces to create LVE. The wines are created by Boisset’s Napa property, the historic Raymond Vineyards, with input from Legend. The Cabernet Sauvignon is a stylish sip. Lush, opulent and sexy, it’s destined for wine collectors’ cellars but can be enjoyed now. Pour it alongside a seared sirloin while listening to music from who else? Legend-ary.

LVE Cabernet

The Spirited Dad

For the man who appreciates wine, but loves spirits, this gift can’t be beat. 

Distillery No. 209 Gin $35
Being a gin devotee, one of my favorite picks is Distillery No. 209. When the brand’s owner, Leslie Rudd, bought the historic Edge Hill wine estate in Napa Valley, he uncovered an old building with the words “Registered distillery no. 209” painted above the door. He traced the background of the verbiage to the property’s original owner, William Sheffler, who was an award-winning distiller in the late 1880s. Using this as inspiration, a new distillery was built in San Francisco on Pier 50. The gin now being crafted there is a marriage of botanicals such as juniper – the key ingredient in gin – as well as up to 11 other botanicals from bergamot orange and lemon peel to coriander seeds. It’s a crisp yet aromatic gin that I love with a simple splash of tonic and fresh lime or as the base for a classic martini. Bottoms up.  

wine-gifts-for-dad

 

The Classy Dad

Not to confused with the Classic, this Dad appreciates the finer things in life and will appreciate the quality of this iconic wine. You will appreciate it’s reasonable price, so make sure to stock up on a few bottles (or cases) for yourself.

2012 Le Domaine Saget, Pouilly-Fumé, France $28
The Saget family has been in the wine business for more than three centuries with nine generations at the helm. This legendary time frame has afforded them ranking among the best producers of the Loire Valley. But, they don’t rest on their laurels and accolades. General Manager Arnaud Saget has taken the reins and is focused on innovation as well with a new line of affordable Vin de France wines dubbed “La Petite Perriere.” This wine, however, falls into their masters category. Made from Sauvignon Blanc planted in the Pouilly-Fumé appellation, this classic style of white encompasses citrus and passion fruit aromas with a driving force of minerality. Pure, focused flavors fleshed out with a luscious texture make it a wine to pair with oysters, scallops or salmon, but also to enjoy on its own as a respite from the day. Though collector-level quality, it’s priced with drinking in mind so stock up for summer time sipping. wine gifts for dad

The Fun-Loving Dad

For the Dad who appreciates the latest Facebook meme and laughs at most anything, this offering from JaM Cellars is both whimsical and delicious.

JaM Cellars is the brainchild of John and Michele Truchard (who own John Anthony Vineyards, a downtown Napa hotspot). As part of the Truchard clan — one of Napa’s great grape-growing families — John knows a thing or two about vineyards. He and his wife also clearly know what appeals to consumers. I come across a myriad of brands with eye-catching labels, but this trio is the most creative I’ve seen in years. Offering up a smile-inducing lineup of wines entitled Toast, Butter and JaM, each has a purpose and unique character. All three pack a high-quality punch while telling you exactly what you’re getting in each bottle.

Toast Brut Sparkling Wine, California $25 wine gifts for dad
Crafted from Chardonnay, this bubbly is made in the traditional sparkling wine method in a dry —or brut— style. It’s got a luscious texture with a touch of toasty richness, yet finishes with crisp fruit flavors. A terrific choice for celebrations year round.

2014 Butter Chardonnay, California $16

wine gifts for dad
Creamy with succulent pineapple fruit notes and a hug of oak, this is an unapologetic style of Chardonnay. It wraps you in buttery pleasure and sports melt-in-your-mouth goodness. If you crave lush Chardonnay, you’ll love Butter.

2014 JaM Cabernet Sauvignon, California $20

wine gifts for dad
As the name says, you get jammy dark fruit flavors in this full-bodied red wine. Made with 100 percent Cabernet, it’s a crowd-pleasing style to pair with barbecue ribs, grilled lamb chops or meat-lovers pizza. It could also saddle up to a PB&J slathered with what else? Jam.

Gifting Tips

Still confused or think that Dad might not be a big wine guy? Check out my spirit tips on Scotch, Pisco, Gin and Tequila. You’re certain to find some gift ideas to get for the Dad in YOUR life!