Wines with a worthy cause: Gift these bottles that give back

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By Leslie Sbrocco

Give back with the gifts you give this holiday season! Here, wine expert Leslie Sbrocco and Food & Wine executive wine editor Ray Isle share their picks for vino with a higher purpose — in addition to being perfect for hostess gifts or party offerings.

Women's causes:

Ray’s pick: 

Handcraft "Inspiration" White blend, California $10

This is a lively, melony white wine, a blend of Riesling and other aromatic varieties that would be a great cocktail party pour for the holidays. Handcraft was founded by Cheryl Indelicato, who comes from a grape-growing family and has also worked as a health care professional. Over the past two years, the company has donated $200,000 to support breast cancer research, prevention and awareness. That initiative will continue into 2014.

Leslie’s pick:

2010 Wine Sisterhood “Courageous” Cabernet Sauvignon, California $10

An affordable and easy drinking cabernet that makes an ideal party pick or treat for friends and family. The Wine Sisterhood family of wine brands donates over $50,000 per year to causes women care about through their “Help a Sister Out” program, the Emily Fund to keep art in local schools, and breast cancer research through the Tough Enough To Wear Pink foundation.

Social causes:

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Ray’s pick:

Murphy-Goode "Homefront" Red, California $12

Muphy-Goode's Homefront red is a big, luscious blend of syrah, merlot and other red varieties—a great burger or steak wine. It was created to benefit Operation Homefront, which provides assistance to the families of service members and wounded veterans. Fifty cents from every bottle sold goes to Operation Homefront—they're hoping to reach the goal of donating $300,000 to military families in need. 

Leslie’s pick:

2010 Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County, California $15

This is a complex yet fruit-driven Cabernet Sauvignon from one of California’s classic producers, Rodney Strong. Stock up to give as impress-for-less gifts this holiday season. Since 2010, Rodney Strong has donated over $200,000 to the United Way and food banks across the country to feed the hungry. In January through April of 2014 the winery will also donate $5 of every case sold (up to $25,000) to the New York City “City Harvest” program feeding the nearly one million New Yorkers in need.

Environmental causes:

Ray’s pick:

2012 Steelhead Pinot Noir Sonoma County, California $15

Classic Sonoma pinot, with bright berry notes and a silky texture, and is a great deal. Steelhead donates one percent of its total sales to the One Percent for the Planet charity group, which is an alliance of companies all of which donate one percent of their sales to a variety of eco-charitable organizations. In the past 10 years, One Percent for the Planet has donated over $100 million total to help save the environment.

Leslie’s picks:

2006 Iron Horse “Ocean Reserve” Green Valley, Sonoma County, California $35-40

Iron horse is one of the world’s best bubbly producers and this limited edition sparkler made from chardonnay and aged four years is lush and layered. Created in partnership with National Geographic to benefit the ocean, for every bottle purchased Iron Horse donates $4 to establish marine protected areas and reduce overfishing around the world.

L.I.F.E. “Save the Wino” wine tote, $10

Save the wino in your life with this eco-friendly reusable wine tote from Whole Foods Markets. Each bag is made by hand in Kenya to support community development projects, and $1 from every bag sold goes to conservancies in Kenya protecting rhinos and elephants against poaching.