Make The Houseguest A-List With This Combination Book and Wine Gift


If you’re lucky enough to score a weekend away at your friends’ summer cottage by the sea, don’t spoil the weekend by bringing a lame host gift. Now is not the time to clear your pantry out of boxes of stale chocolates and snacks that have been sitting there for over a year.

What makes a great host gift? The key is to put some thought into your choice. First, think about what your friends like to do. If they are into boating, a cooler or an assortment of colorful beach towels would be an excellent choice. Cycling? How about biking gloves or polarized sunglasses? And for wine-loving friends? Just about every wine drinker would be thrilled with a great bottle of Burgundy. But it’s too easy to stop at the local wine shop and grab a bottle. How about putting in a little more effort?

Wine writers Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen’s latest book, White Wine—The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles (on Amazon for $28 hardcover or $17 Kindle), makes an excellent host gift, especially when paired with a bottle of wine found within its pages (see 12 recommendations below).

The book, a follow-up to their well-received Red Wine, The Comprehensive Guide To The 50 Essential Varieties & Styles, takes a deep dive into white grape varieties and styles—perfect for the summer when, more often than not, people opt for a chilled wine in their glass.

What I love about this book is that it's easy to read and gets right to the heart of the matter with engaging, in-depth details. Each chapter gives a colorful story (“You Should Know”) and a brief history of a variety or style. Additionally, there are tasting notes, food pairings, and recommendations at all price points, from bargain to value and special occasion wines. The authors clearly did their work and have included nearly 2,000 white wines. To reach this number, they had to taste an astounding 6,000 wines (I know, it’s a tough job…).

White Wine doesn’t need to be read from start to finish either. The authors recommend perusing whichever chapter happens to catch your fancy, hopefully, while sipping on a glass of white wine.

“Reading a book of this nature straight through would be like drinking a whole cellar of wine,” write DeSimone and Jenssen in the introduction. “You would develop palate fatigue and quickly lose interest.”

Here are twelve tasty wines, all featured in White Wine, that will make your host invite you back again! These white wines were served at a recent book launch hosted by importersTaub Family Selections and Palm Bay International, whose portfolios include many fine wines from all over the world.

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Infiné 1939 Pinot Grigio Trentino DOC 2019. 100% Pinot Grigio fromTrentino, Italy. Infiné is Italian for “at last,” and 1939 was the year David Taub, who became an important wine importer, was born. He is credited as bringing Pinot Grigio to the U.S. in the 1970s, so at last, he has a wine that honors him.

Tasting Notes: On the nose, fruity apple, pear and citrus, with whiffs of oyster shells. On the palate, medium to full-bodied, crisp, fresh, and lively—a great pairing with gem lettuce with peas and whipped Pecorino cheese. ABV: 13% SRP: $31.99

Fontanafredda Pradalupo Roero Arneis DOG 2021. 100% Arneis from Piedmont, Italy. “Arneis is a grape we don't really hear a lot about,” says DeSimone, “and it's the main white wine of Piedmont.” A fascinating fact about the Fontanafredda estate is that it dates back to 1858, when Victor Emmanuel II, the King of Italy, bought the estate. Today, it is the largest certified organic winery in Piedmont.

Tasting Notes: Exotic fruits, mature pears, and acacia honey on the nose. The medium-bodied palate is soft and velvety, with a great balance between its fruitiness and acidity. Fresh and lingering. ABV: 13.5% SRP: $26.99.

Saget La Perrière "La Perrière Mégalithe" Sancerre 2018. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Loire Valley, France. “When we think about Sauvignon Blanc, we think about the fresh, easy drinking style, such as those from New Zealand, meant to be consumed young,” says DeSimone. “This wine is a rare Sauvignon Blanc that can age. When you taste the older vintages of this wine, it's amazing to see the complexity that develops.”

Tasting Notes: Hints of toast, gunflint, and pebblestone on the nose. The palate offers a full, rich fruitiness, along with lovely purity and a flinty minerality. Good length and freshness. Cellaring potential for 10-15 years. ABV: 12.5% SRP: $70.99.

Wakefield Estate Riesling 2022. 100% Riesling from Clare Valley, Australia. “Often we think about the Barossa Valley red Shiraz wines when we think about Australian wines,” says DeSimone. “Clare Valley is about an hour north of the Barossa Valley, and it has high elevation and a cooler climate that is conducive to producing beautiful Riesling.”

Tasting Notes: A pale straw color with subtle green highlights. Lemon and lime citrus notes, followed by layers of subtle floral nuances. The finish is crisp and citrusy, hallmarks of a great Clare Valley Riesling. ABV: 12%. SRP $17.99.

Planeta Eruzione 1614 Carricante, Sicilia DOC 2018. 90% Carricante, 10% Riesling from Sicily, Italy. “This is a white wine with more body to stand up to heavier courses,” says Jenssen. “You can taste the minerality and a little bit of that scorched earth, smoky note that you get from volcanic soil. This could be a really nice pairing with either chicken or fish.”

Tasting Notes: Aromas of white flowers, green apples, and citrus fruits magically transport the taster to the lava slopes of Mount Etna. Along with smokiness, this rich wine has flavors of lemon peel and green apple, with mineral power on the finish. ABV: 12.5%. SRP: $48.99.

Domaine Colombo Saint-Peray "La Belle De Mai" 2021. 60% Roussanne, 40% Marsanne from Rhône Valley, France. Jenssen says Jean-Luc Colombo is a “force to be reckoned with.” He and his wife Anne opened a wine analysis lab in the 19760s before making their own wine. Today, the Colombos have what Jenssen calls an “empire” in the northern Rhône. “Jean-Luc Colombo is an amazing winemaker,” says Jenssen. “He makes fresh, crisp white wines as well as those that are more full-bodied and many beautiful red wines.”

Tasting Notes: A full-bodied, fruity wine that evokes the beginning of spring with aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom. On the palate, toasty vanilla with earthy, mineral notes and a long finish. ABV: 13.5%. SRP: $37.99.

Los Vascos Chardonnay 2022. 100% Chardonnay from Colchagua Valley, Chile. “Baron de Rothschild was the first French investor in Chile, and now there are many others,” says Jenssen. “Los Vascos means the Basques and the people who came from the Basque area of Spain to make wine in Chile are considered los vascos.”

Tasting Notes: On the nose, tropical fruit aromas like banana, papaya, and pineapple, joined by white flowers and grapefruit. A crisp and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. ABV: 14%. SRP: $14.99.

Trimbach "Frédéric Émile" Riesling 2014. 100% Riesling from Alsace, France. Jenssen calls this 9-year-old Riesling, served from a magnum, “a quintessential and fabulous Alsace Riesling.”

Tasting Notes: Great aromatic complexity, including citrus, white flowers, and flinty mineral notes. An ample and rich mouthfeel, balanced by chiseled acidity and salinity. This vintage is characterized by its freshness, tension, finesse, and minerality. ABV: 13.59%. SRP: $112.99.

Yealands Estate Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2021. 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Awatere Valley, New Zealand. “Winemaker Natalie Christensen is an influential woman in wine and a classically trained double bass violinist,” Jenssen tells us. “This Sauvignon Blanc leans a little more French than New Zealand in style, meaning it's not so much in-your-face grass and grapefruit; it's more subtle.”

Tasting Notes: Fresh fruit aromas of blackcurrant intermingle with fresh herbs and citrus. The palate is elegant and richly textured with a distinctive mineral note on the finish. ABV: 13%. SRP: $26.99.

Saracina "Unoaked" Chardonnay 2021. 100% Chardonnay from Mendocino County, USA. The winery is a family-owned, Certified California Sustainable winery, vineyard, and working ranch located in Mendocino's beautiful wine country.

Tasting Notes: Asian pear, nectarine, and crisp, snappy sweet pea aromas. Stone fruit and citrus flavors on the palate, light and lively, unhampered by oak, a pure expression of Chardonnay. ABV: 13.3%. SRP: $22.99

Bodegas Salentein Reserve Chardonnay 2021. 100% Chardonnay from Mendoza, Argentina. “The property consists of a 125-acre nature preserve, a cultural center, and a non-denominational chapel,” Jenssen tells us. “And they make amazing Chardonnay, so cheers to that!”

Tasting Notes: Aromas of citrus fruit and white peach with a hint of floral notes. Crisp and refreshing palate with fruity and mineral notes. ABV: 13.5%. SRP: $22.99.

S.A. Prüm Wehlen Sonnenuhr Riesling Dry Grosse Gewächs 2015. 100% Riesling from Mosel, Germany. “S.A. Prüm has been making wine since 1156,” says Jenssen. “They are stewards of the earth, working sustainably, and not only that, they make amazing wines.” 

Tasting Notes: Very expressive, with notes of peach, mango, passion fruit, and quince. A dry, full-bodied wine, with concentrated stone fruit and a finish of gray slate minerality. “OMG, yum!” says it all. ABV: 12.5%. SRP: $76.99.

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