Holiday wine pairing

Sparklers and Bright Whites:
  • Codorniu "Raventos" Brut Cava, Spain $15 - Most people think France and Champagne for the holidays, but this bottling from Spain is a must-buy. It's elegant and stylish.

  • 2008 Broquel Torrontes, Cafayate, Argentina $17 - A crisp yet lush white that pairs beautifully with cheeses to fish dishes. From one of my favorite wineries, Trapiche.
If roast beef, ham, or hearty fare is on your menu over the next few weeks, reach for smooth and intense reds:

Red Hot Reds: These wines showcase signature varieties from each country.

  • 2008 Carmen Carmenere, Rapel Valley, Chile $9 - Carmen was the winery to discover the ancient grape variety Carmenere, which has now become the country's signature variety. This is spicy and smooth at a price that puts a smile on your face.

  • 2007 Catena Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $25 - Catena ranks at the top when it comes to producers from Argentina. Malbec is the deeply-colored, power-packed red that still highlights zesty fruit character.
But with winter fare like pumpkin ravioli and squash soup, you need a wine with a touch of sweetness. I like to serve soup for the holidays in what I call soup shooters. Use an espresso cup and put the soup in with a drizzle of olive oil. No spoons needed!

Suggested wine: Sandeman Character $15

It wouldn't be the holiday season without treats…and lots of them. Reach for chocolates, cookies, and candy, or try a sweet Sherry instead. As one of the wine world's most underappreciated styles, Sherry is a treat to discover

Sweet Treats: Pair this sexy sipper with chocolates and candies, or simply drink by itself and toast the holidays.

  • Willams & Humbert "Don Guido" 20-year-aged Pedro Ximenez, Solera Special, Jerez, Spain $50 - An amazingly complex Sherry made with Pedro Ximenez grapes and aged for decades. It's like drinking liquid chocolate. An indulgence for someone special in your life (or just to indulge yourself!).

Spain and Portugal have so much to offer with culture, food, and red-hot wines from elegant whites to hearty reds and sweet

About Leslie Sbrocco:
An award-winning author, writer, speaker, and wine consultant, Leslie Sbrocco's entertaining approach makes learning about wine and food fun.

Leslie has written two wine books (William Morrow), Wine for Women: A Guide to Buying, Pairing and Sharing Wine (2003) and The Simple & Savvy Wine Guide, (2006). Her next book, Adventures of a Thirsty Girl, about the humorous life lessons she's learned while being a globe-trotting wine expert, will be published in Spring 2011.

As Tasting Notes columnist for, part of CondeNast Publications, Sbrocco's monthly musings are enjoyed by thousands. Her work has appeared in newspapers from The San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times to magazines including O, the Oprah magazine, Coastal Living, Woman's Day, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Santé. Leslie was a columnist for The New York Times online, Cooking with the Times, and Co-founder of, part of The New York Times Company. Leslie's television work as host of the popular PBS series Check Please! Bay Area, has won her a James Beard award and three Emmy awards. She is currently key judge on a new reality show entitled, The Wine Makers, airing nationally on PBS. Sbrocco is also an NBC Today Show favorite and appears 4-6 times a year. A sought-after speaker, Leslie has spoken at events as diverse as O magazine's "Hi Gorgeous" live tour to the American Dietetic Association national convention. She has been a keynote at many wine events. Leslie is also the wine consultant for Virgin America Airlines and a wine educator for Crystal Cruises and Holland America Cruise Lines. Currently, Sbrocco is launching her companion website for Adventures of a Thirsty Girl, which can be found at . Sbrocco is a highly-respected judge at a number of the country's largest wine competitions and international wine competitions, which takes her all over the world.

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