It’s time again to present the annual WINEormous Holiday Gift Guide, jam-packed this year not only with wine ideas but with books and condiments, too. Some like it hot!

Palm Bay winesThere’s plenty of wine to suggest, with two groups presented by Palm Bay International and Taub Family Selections. Trimbach 2018 “Classic” Riesling comes from Alsace, where the family has been producing wines for 13 generations. This dry Riesling is exceptionally food-friendly and will pair well with virtually any holiday dish. $27.99. Pfaffl 2018 Grüner Veltliner Zeisen’s bright acidity will cut through fat and salt. $18.99. Saget “La Perrière” 2019 Sancerre is a classic Loire white, a match made in heaven for creamy seafood or poultry dishes. $39.99. Cavit 2018 Pinot Noir from Northern Italy is a medium-bodied wine that pairs well with a number of foods. $9.99. The 2017 Mandrossa Frappato is a light-bodied Sicilian red that is ideally served with a slight chill. $17.99. Mon Frère’s 2017 California Cabernet Sauvignon has great structure that also makes it quite food-friendly. $16.99. Finally, the Calvados Boulard non-vintage VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale) is the perfect end to the evening. $45.99 or $14.99 for the 200ml bottle.

Let's BrunchI’m sure you likely have a brunch fan on your gift list. I have the ideal gift for you! Let’s Brunch by Belinda Smith-Sullivan is a delightful book with 100 recipes and mouth-watering photos. $24.99.

Grapefruit, Champagne & Vodka Spritz

Makes 1 cocktail


A spritz is a cocktail made with Champagne or Prosecco, a bitter liqueur, and soda water. Aperol is an Italian bitter aperitif, though sweeter and fruitier than its elder sibling Campari. Aperol gets its name from the Italian slang word apero, which means aperitif.


1 ounce Aperol
4 ounces Champagne
1 1/2 ounces of grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce vodka
Club soda
1/2 grapefruit wheel, for garnish

Into a tall wine glass pour Aperol, Champagne, grapefruit juice, and vodka. Add ice and a splash of club soda. Stir gently, garnish with grapefruit wheel.

Recipe and photo reprinted from Let’s Brunch by Belinda Smith-Sullivan

Photograph by Susan Barnson

Hayward Gibbs/Smith September 2020

Sassy Mama'sHave you ever tasted artisan, boutique mustard? If you think you know mustard, think again. Sassy Mama’s Mustard is lovingly handcrafted in California’s Temecula Valley. A few years back, Kat Ellis overhead someone bemoaning the fact there were no locally produced mustards. She took the ball and ran with it, creating whimsical flavors like Naked & Sassy, Bosomy Bourbon, and Brazen Blueberry. All of these mustards are painstakingly created using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, local wines, and top-shelf spirits. Holiday gift packs are available.
Bonterra wines
Bonterra Vineyards believes in protecting the environment. They practice what they preach by engaging in biodynamic, organic, and sustainable farming practices. The result is rich, lush wines that engage your nostrils as well as your palate. The Butler 2014 is a Syrah-based blend with Grenache, Mourvedre, and Zinfandel. The McNab marries Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot, and Old Vine Petite Sirah. These wines will undoubtedly thrill the oenophile on your gift list. Each sells for $50.
Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia
Weighing in at a hefty 800 pages, The New Sotheby’s Wine Encyclopedia is a must-have for any serious wine lover. My roommate is Swedish, and just for fun, I asked her if there were any wineries in Sweden. She assured me there were not. Sotheby’s book proved her wrong. This comprehensive reference is packed with incredible photos and extensively covers wine regions, grape varieties, and so much more. This authoratative book is well worth the $75 price, and you may just find it for less.
Wine Encyclopedia
Rothschild ChileDid you know Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA has been producing high-end wines in Chile since the 1990s? The Baron’s daughter, Baroness Philippine was certain the soils and climate in the Maipo Valley were suitable for producing wines worthy of the Rothschild name. Escudo Rojo is the Spanish translation of the German Rote Schild, meaning red shield. Escudo Rojo 2018 Gran Reserva is an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Petite Verdot. I think you’ll agree this is a wine worthy of the Rothschild name. The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva is an excellent example of Chilean terroir. Both wines sell for a little under $20.
Escudo Rojo Gran Reserva
san antonio winery
From San Antonio Winery I have two selections for you. San Simeon 2017 Monterey Pinot Noir is fruit-driven with notes of strawberry and raspberry. Wine Enthusiast awarded it 88 points and it retails for about $22. Stella Rosa has garnered all sorts of attention in recent years and the Golden Honey Peach is a semi-sweet wine with notes of apricot, honeydew melon, and peach. It sells for around $13.
Young GardensA highlight in a year filled with challenges was meeting Cathy and Jon Young. Together, they grow super-hot peppers in their Young Gardens in Murrieta, California. Caliente by Young Gardens is a line of spices and sauces for those who like it HOT! Their pepper plants tower over you and are incredibly lush and bear a bounty of peppers including habanero, ghost peppers, three types of Moruga Scorpions, and the world’s hottest pepper at 2.2 million Scoville units, the Carolina Reaper. For comparison purposes, habaneros are a mere 500,000 on the Scoville scale, while jalapeños are less than 8,000. I use her spices almost daily, on eggs, in soups, salads, and many other dishes. Her HBG stands for habanero, bell pepper, and garlic and is incredible when mixed into butter.  She also has three sauces: TSA, TSB, and TSH, standing for That Shitz Amazing, That Shitz Barbecue, and That Shitz Hot.  Again, when they say hot, they’re not kidding. Her Jalapeachno jam is addictive. They also offer a variety of gift packs ranging in price from $19.99 to $74.99.
Jalapeachnodos diablos
Palm Bay bubblesWhat says the holidays better than bubbles? I thought it fitting to end this year’s gift guide with a toast! Here are my sparkling picks with my thanks to Palm Bay and Taub Family. Roscato Rosso Dolce is a blend of native Northern Italian grapes. A perfect balance of sweetness and effervescence, serve it alongside chocolate desserts. $12.99. Paul Cheneau Lady of Spain Brut is a Cava from Spain’s Penedes region. This fine, delicate, and clean sparkler has toasty pastry notes and it sells for $14.99. Côté Mas Crémant de Limoux Brut is one of two bubbly wines we enjoyed with Thanksgiving dinner. Produced in the traditional method, we absolutely loved it and thought it was a bargain at $19.99. The other sparkling wine we enjoyed was Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC. It paired magnificently with hors d’oeuvres and turkey. $32.99. Champagne Boizel’s Brut Réserve is the ambassador of the brand. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, it’s spectacular on its own or paired with holiday classics. $49.99. If you prefer pink, Champagne Vollereaux Rosé de Saignée Brut is produced with the utmost attention to detail, resulting in a beautiful Champagne that pairs equally well with cheeses and fruit-based desserts. $54.99.
Moét Rosé Impérial
Moët & Chandon is an icon in the world of Champagne. Their Rosé Impérial is predominantly Pinot Noir based with Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay to round it out. The color is a glowing pink with strawberry, raspberry, and cherry on the nose with bright fruits on the palate. I suggest pairing it with beef carpaccio or a fruit salad of summer berries. It’s also divine on its own. This Champagne house was founded in 1742, and the Rosé Imperial is packaged in an elegant pink metal box. It sells for $60.
Thanks so much for checking out this year’s gift guide. I hope you gained some good ideas.