Books and wine make the best gifts for holiday smiles


Tuscanini handmade paper-thin Parchment crackers imported from Italy: light, golden, crisp made using a classic recipe and time-honored techniques to preserve their traditional Italian flavors and texture. Choose either Olive Oil & Rosemary, Olive Oil, or Olive Oil & Oregano, they are perfect with salami or cheese, perhaps, as an antipasto or light snack.


Wines from Lula Cellars in Mendocino. The 2013 Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley is a world class blend of Pommard, Dijon and Swan clones full of fruit, aromatics and finish bursting with flavors of raspberry, plum and dried cherry. The 2014 Pinot Noir, Mendocino County, is outstanding–dark, rich and full bodied, a blend of Pommard and Dijon clones. These superb wines are produced in very small quantities and treasured by wine lovers.

Inky dark and full of robust tannins and ripe red fruits and spice is the 2015 Malbec Horse Heaven Hills from Mercer Estates in Prosser, Washington, producers of small lots of single noble varietals. Their 2015 Sharp Sisters Red Blend has excellent structure, lush textures and uplifting full chewrry and berry flavors, the result of expertly marrying Cabernnet, Syrah, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Grenache and Carignane.

Desidero Jeio Cuvee Rose, Italian sparkling wine, a Prosecco that deserves attention, especially if you enjoy rosé and bubbly that is a bit off dry as there are hints of residual sugar present. The bubbles in this wine are very fine. Nice flavors of red berries – strawberries and raspberries – and tomato with a bit of honey and tannin. Best when served with a nice chill.

2012 Chateau Lestage Simon Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois, a firmly structured wine with supporting swathes of berry fruits. Tannins come from the Cabernet in the blend and from the wood aging that gives a toasty character. Black fruits and acidity shine at the end.

2015 NOE Dei Calanchi Orvieto produced by Az. Paolo e Noemia d’Amico in Italy, Well-priced crisp, clean and cool white from Tuscany, specifically Umbria.

Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Collezione Privata Chianti Ruffina Reserve 2013 from Frescobaldi shows great complexity and harmony refined for two years in oak barrels. intense ruby red, with a rim, still quite vibrant, that shows no effects of spending two years in oak. Predominating on the nose are notes of wild black berryfruit, such as blackcurrant and wild blackberry; although the fragrances will further evolve in the bottle, spicy notes of black pepper and cinnamon are already evident.


NIGHT VISION: Magical Photographs of Life After Dark (National Geographic Books) presents the mesmerizing realm of all things nocturnal, framed by a beautiful foreword by acclaimed landscape photographers Diane Cook and Len Jenshel. Filled with more than 250 unforgettable images, this exquisitely curated book by long-time National Geographic editor and author Susan Tyler Hitchcock is the perfect gift for night owls, nature lovers, adventurers, armchair travelers, and avid photographers alike. Celebrate the beauty of the world after dark—from starlit skies and glowing city streets to exquisite nocturnal creatures —with this magnificent new photography collection from National Geographic. The world is a different place after dark, and this breathtaking book illuminates the mesmerizing realm of all things nocturnal. Page after page of vivid photographs explore the many nuances of night vision—from the sea by moonlight to night markets in Laos to the face of a child lit up by a screen in a darkened room. The range of images in these pages is breathtaking

JUNK BEAUTIFUL, 30 Clever Furniture Projects to Transform Your Home, showcases author Sue Whitney’s uncanny ability to forge new paths and stay well ahead of the curve when it comes to innovative creations for your home. This book teaches how to reimagine, refurbish, and refashion vintage finds into functional and fun furniture and home accessories. Whitney is the “Queen of Junk” and long may she reign with her bright recommendations. Published by The Taunton Press.

SUNDAY SUPPERS: Simple, Delicious Menus for Family Gatherings, Oxmoor House, by James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Cynthia Graubart is a useful and exciting full-color cookbook that will revitalize the iconic Southern Sunday meal. Inspired by suppers of the past and present, these 52 recipes recall relaxing Sunday afternoons at which the laid-back supper was an event to be celebrated, be it simple soup and salad or a full meal. There’s lots of classic Southern flair here and the emphasis is on creating moth-watering meals without too much fuss and muss.

HOOVER, AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE IN EXTRAORDINARY TIMES, Kenneth Whyte’s impeccably researched, faithful portrait of one of our least known and most controversial presidents reveals one of the most remarkable Americans of the 20th century. Whyte fully captures the rich, dramatic life of Hoover and reconsiders his place in history as he resurrects this complex man who emerges as the Father of both New Deal liberalism and modern conservatism. Published by Alfred A. Knopf.

THE GRUMPY GARDENER, An A to Z Guide from the Galaxy’s Most Irritable Green Thumb by Steve Bender, Southern Living Garden Editor, offers opinionated expert guidance laced with humor to help you avoid the horticultural mockery of the neighborhood. Chock full of essays, blog posts, and answers to readers’ questions, this small book tells you which plants to love, which to hate, fun ways to dispatch critters and garden pests and much, much more. Published by Oxmoor House.

HOUSEPLANTS: The Complete Guide to Choosing, Growing and Caring for Indoor Plants contains a detailed list of more than 125 houseplants with information on where, when, and how to plant; growing tips; care and propagation; companion planting and design; specific species recommendations; Latin family; other common names; bloom period and seasonal color; and mature height and spread. Author Lisa Edldred Steinkopf, The Houseplant Guru, harbors over 1,0000 houseplants in her home and will help you be an educated owner, too. Published by Cool Springs Press.

WHAT CAN I BRING? Southern Food for Any Occasion Life Serves Up, gives you all the answers when that invitation is received, be it backyard barbecue to a formal dinner. Author Elizabeth Heiskell, a Delta-born chef and caterer, guides readers to that perfect dish to greet any party that ensures you’ll be asked back time after time. From housewarmings to weddings and simply putting food on your own table, this book is packed with delicious appetizers, mains, sandwiches, drinks and desserts. Published by Oxmoor House.

Michael Connors, an expert in Caribbean antiques and architecture, has more than thirty years of experience in writing, consultation, and teaching in fine and decorative arts. He has written two successful books on Cuba, Havana Modern and The Splendor of Cuba. He continues to lead art and architecture tours throughout Cuba. His latest book, CUBA 101 Beautiful & Nostalgic Places to Visit, published by Rizzoli, is a perfect introduction to Cuba that illustrates with insightful prose and lavish photography all of the island’s many charms. This is a unique period in time when more travelers are discovering or rediscovering Cuba. This book is an in-depth exploration of 101 of the most authentic and compelling sites that reveal the real Cuba. Caribbean antiques expert, art historian, and adventurer Michael Connors presents the breadth of this island’s most intriguing destinations and architectural treasures. The book features iconic places such as the tobacco plantations in Pinar del Rio, the fortresses and palacios, Hemingway’s home outside of Havana, Xanadu (the DuPont mansion), the old French Triolet Pharmacy in Matanzas, and the Sugar Mill Valley in Sancti Spiritus. The lush photographs were shot exclusively for this book by Jorge Laserna, bringing each location and treasure alive.

199 CEMETERIES TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE, a hauntingly beautiful guide to the world’s most interesting and unusual final resting places. Author Loren Rhoades shares the lure of ornate tombstones and crypts, and their notable eternal residents around the world. Our favorite: Japan’s wooded Okunoin Cemetery, lit by 10,000 lanterns. Published by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers.

ADVENTURES WITH OLD VINES, A Beginner’s Guide To Being A Wine Connoisseur, an engaging and knowledgeable guide that is down-to-earth and practical. Author Richard L. Chilton, Jr. is himself an owner of a Napa winery and his extensive subject-matter wisdom is valuable to anyone wanting to collect, purchase, store, taste and enjoy wines. You’ll get tips on reading a wine list and how wine is really made. A richly illustrated, full-color reference section on a select group of vineyards from around the world is an added extra. Published by Rowman & Littlefield.

STOCK THE CROCK, 100 Must-Have Slow Cooker Recipes with 200 Variations for Every Appetite, Phyllis Good’s ultimate kitchen resource with page after page tricks, tips and techniques for hassle-free delicious dishes using your slow cooker. Publisher by Oxmoor House.

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