Hestan for the holidays: Wine lovers looking for new, creative recipes and holiday entertaining tips are in for a treat at Hestan Vineyards' new tasting salon in downtown Yountville. Best-selling author and chef Sally James of "Simply Healthy" will be on hand two Saturdays in December to offer instruction and ideas for easy and effective entertaining with Italian cookware. Her seasonal recipes will be paired with Hestan's portfolio of estate-grown cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and Bordeaux-style wines. The cooking demo is free; tasting is $20. Details: 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 14 and 21, Hestan Vineyards, 6548 Washington St., Yountville. www.hestan.com.
Punchy prose: Most wine magazines tend to be a bit dry or academic, which is why Talia Baiocchi -- the former wine editor at Eater.com and columnist at Wine Spectator -- and longtime spirits writer Leslie Pariseau launched Punch. It's an online wine and spirits magazine that uses narrative journalism to explore the who, what and where of today's drinks culture. Ten Speed Press, a publisher of award-winning foodie books, immediately backed the project, which launched in October and pulls from a Who's Who list of contributors, including Jordan Mackay of San Francisco magazine and Wyatt Peabody, who used to cover wine and spirits for the Los Angeles Times Magazine. Look for editor-tested drink recipes, how-to videos and profiles and photo essays. Details: www.punchdrink.com.
'Adventures' turns 25: When Kermit Lynch's book "Adventures on the Wine Route: A Wine Buyer's Tour of France" (North Point Press, 271 pages) debuted in 1988, the irreverent diary of his experiences in the cellars of Bordeaux, Provence and other regions became a staple in wine literature, earning the Veuve Cliquot Wine Book of the Year award and catapulting the Berkeley importer to international status.
Since then, Lynch's support of small, artisan Old World producers has earned him two James Beard awards and the French government's prestigious Legion d'Honneur. The 25th anniversary edition -- designed and published by Farrar, Strauss, Giroux -- is as relevant as ever. As Lynch tours the finest châteaux, he reminds us that the best wines offer "a subtle seduction that keeps you coming back for more." Indeed, so does this book.
-- Jessica Yadegaran, staff