Three good wine books and a Sicilian red

Looking for a good gift for the wine enthusiast, wine geek, or wine nerd on your list? Other than putting a bow on a bottle of actual wine, it’s hard to go wrong with an interesting new wine book. This week I offer three gift-worthy items for your consideration.

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The New Wine Rules: A Genuinely Helpful Guide to Everything You Wanted to Know

By Jon Bonné

This enjoyable book is a straightforward and approachable guide to wine, aimed at demystifying the world of wine for the average consumer. It comes from the pen of Jon Bonné, one of the leading American voices on wine and food. Currently the managing editor of Resy, he previously spent nearly a decade as the wine editor and chief wine critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, and served as the lifestyle editor and wine columnist for MSNBC, the U.S. columnist for Decanter magazine, and the wine consultant for JetBlue Airways.

“Becoming a happier, more confident wine drinker is easy,” Bonné tells us. “The first step is to not worry about some of the needlessly complicated stuff the ‘experts’ have been telling you.”

From lessons on drinking and buying, to storing and sharing, The New Wine Rules guides you through the world of wine with concise and accessible hacks from one of the world’s leading wine writers. Learn why you should smell the cork, and how it really does tell you something, and why a wine’s price rarely reflects its quality.

Fun and informative, this beautifully illustrated book is the ultimate gift for all wine lovers. Buy it now from Using these links will return a small commission to us at WineLoversPage and help us cover the costs of producing and distributing The 30 Second Wine Advisor.
Hardcover ($14.49)
Kindle ($6.95)


Wine: A Cultural History

by John Varriano

Whether you’re an elevated oenophile, a casual wine-drinker, a sybaritic aesthete, or an enthusiastic consumer of history and culture, informative and entertaining Wine: A Cultural History is sure to delight even the most sensitive palates.

From celebrations of Bacchus in ancient Rome to the Last Supper and casual dinner parties, wine has long been a key component of festivities, ceremonies, and celebrations. Made by almost every civilization throughout history, in every part of the world, wine has been used in religious ceremonies, inspired artists and writers, been employed as a healing medicine, and, most often, sipped as a way to relax with a gathering of friends. Yet, like all other forms of alcohol, wine has also had its critics, who condemn it for the drunkenness and bad behavior that arise with its overconsumption. Wine can render you tongue-tied or philosophical; it can heal wounds or damage health; it can bring society together or rend it. In this fascinating cultural history of wine, John Varriano takes us on a tour of wine’s lively story, revealing the polarizing effect wine has had on society and culture through the ages.

Varriano examines how wine is made and how it has been used in rituals, revelries, and remedies throughout history. He examines its history in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia and in the expanding contemporary industries in Australia, New Zealand, and America. In addition, he investigates the history of wine’s transformative effects on body and soul in art, literature, and science from the mosaics of ancient Rome to the poetry of Dickinson and Neruda and the paintings of Caravaggio and Manet.

A spirited exploration, this book will delight lovers of sauvignon blanc or pinot noir, as well as those who are interested in the rich history of human creativity and consumption. Pre-order it now for January 13 delivery from Using these links will return a small commission to us at WineLoversPage and help us cover the costs of producing and distributing The 30 Second Wine Advisor.
Paperback ($24)
Kindle ($14.16)


Wine Simple: A Totally Approachable Guide from a World-Class Sommelier

by Aldo Sohm, with Christine Muhlke

From the respected sommelier Aldo Sohm, Wine Simple is billed as “a dynamic, essential wine guide for a new generation.” Aldo Sohm has worked with celebrated chef Eric Ripert as wine director of the Michelin three-star restaurant Le Bernardin for more than a decade, yet his philosophy and approach to wine is inviting and casual. Wine Simple, his first book, is full of confidence-building infographics and illustrations, an unbeatable depth of knowledge, effusive encouragement, and, most important, strong opinions on wine so you can learn to form your own. Imbued with Aldo’s insatiable passion and eagerness to teach others, Wine Simple is accessible, deeply educational, and lively and fun, both in voice and visuals.

This essential guide begins with the fundamentals of wine in easy-to-absorb hits of information and pragmatic, everyday tips—key varietals and winemaking regions, how to taste, when to save and when to splurge, and how to set up a wine tasting at home. Aldo then teaches you how to take your wine knowledge to the next level and evolve your palate, including techniques on building a “flavor library,” a cheat sheet to good (and great) vintages (and why you shouldn’t put everything on the line for them), tips on troubleshooting tricky wines (corked? mousy?), and, for the daring, even how to saber a bottle of champagne. This visual, user-friendly approach will inspire readers to have the confidence, curiosity, and enthusiasm to taste smarter, drink boldly, and dive headfirst fearlessly into the exciting world of wine.

Buy it now from Using these links will return a small commission to us at WineLoversPage and help us cover the costs of producing and distributing The 30 Second Wine Advisor.
Hardcover ($16.39)
Kindle ($7.99)


This week’s wine: A Sicilian treat

Now, for this week’s featured wine, I report on a surprisingly light and tasty wine from Sicily, the Italian island usually better known for rich, dark, and strong red wines made from Nero d’Avola and other grapes that make powerful potions under the Mediterranean sun. Santa Tresa “Rina Russa” Frappato is another style of wine entirely. Its fresh and appetizing cherry-berry character and crisp acidity make it a natural with food and a delight for sipping on its own. You’ll find my tasting report below.


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Today’s Tasting Report

Santa Tresa 2020 “Rina Russa” Terre Siciliane Frappato ($17.99)

Santa Tresa "Rina Russa" Frappato

Made with organic indigenous Sicilian Frapatto grapes and billed as vegan friendly, Santa Tresa “Rina Russa” Frappato is a pretty, rather light cherry-red color in the glass. Pleasant mixed-berry and cherry aromas greet the nose, leading into a mouth-watering cherry-berry flavor shaped by crisp, fresh-fruit acidity. At room temperature it’s a food-friendly table wine; chill it a little for a lovely aperitif. An appealing wine, a real treat with a relatively little-known grape from Sicily. 13.5% alcohol. U.S. importer: VIAS Imports Ltd., NYC. (Dec. 14, 2022)

FOOD MATCH: The producer suggests drinking it slightly chilled with grilled tuna, swordfish, bluefish and similar dishes typical of Sicily’s Ragusa region, and that sounds fine., in contrast, suggests beef or venison. We enjoyed it with a meatless version of pasta e fagioli made with Rancho Gordo Borlotto Magnifico beans.

WHEN TO DRINK: Its rather light and fresh flavor suggests a wine not made for aging. Drink it up over the next year or so, and watch out for newer vintages.

VALUE:’s $15 average U.S. retail falls a bit under my $18 local price, but it’s a good table red and still a good value under $20.

Here’s a producer fact sheet in English.

Check prices and find vendors for Santa Tresa “Rina Russa” Frappato on

Follow this Wine-Searcher link to find a fact sheet on the Frappato grape and listings for dozens of other wines made with it.

Learn more about Terre Siciliane, the new (2011) IGT title for wines made in the entire Sicilia region, comprising the main island of Sicily and its satellite islands.


Wine Focus December 2022: Cabernet Franc and Meunier

Another year is almost gone! Another Wine Focus series is almost complete. We’ll finish off the year with two red grapes that have their official days in December: Cabernet Franc and Meunier (aka Pinot Meunier).

Cabernet Franc gets lots of bottlings on its own (e.g., Loire), while Meunier is mostly used in blends. That said, Meunier does have some proponents in Champagne who do mostly or even 100% Meunier wines, and there are some occasional still bottlings. Of course Cabernet Franc is also a huge player in Bordeaux and Bordeaux-style blends, so there are lots of wines to choose from this month!

So open a bottle of either Cab Franc or Meunier this month, bring your comments and questions, and join us in the year’s last Wine Focus of 2022!


Today’s Sponsor:

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Good wines we’ve tried under $10.99!

Want tips to still more good, inexpensive wines? Here are Wine-Searcher links to vendors and prices for a bunch more wines for $10.99 or less that I’ve told you about in recent years. In some cases the prices may have risen over the $10.99 mark since I reviewed them, but they should still be excellent bargains. Please tell us about your favorites!


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