Authors Posts by Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski


By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Rum is an alcoholic beverage distilled from the fermented juice of sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, sugarcane molasses or other sugarcane byproducts. It is bottled at not less than 80 proof (except for flavored rum). Some rums are bottled at a staggering 151 proof.

More than 70 countries produce rum, although it is produced mainly in Caribbean, Central and South American countries.

Although rum is generally used as a mixer in cocktails such as piña colada, daiquiri, rum and cola, mojito, Long Island ice tea and others, there are many well-aged rums suitable for sipping without the fruit juices. If you enjoy sipping rum, my recommendations will most certainly satisfy your cravings.

Owney’s Rum (New York City), started in 2012: Clear color with hints of grass, citrus, mint, black pepper and clove. Dry and strong tasting with an aftertaste of molasses.

Puerto Angel Rum (Mexico): Just a hint of color; bouquet of coffee, chocolate, cinnamon, butterscotch, nutmeg and vanilla. Some bitterness, but smooth with “no bite.”

Brugal Añejo Extra Rum (Dominican Republic): Amber colored with a bouquet and flavor of citrus, molasses, cinnamon, grass and lime. Very complex smoky taste, almost of a fine brandy.

Don Q Gran Añejo Rum (Puerto Rico): Amber color with overtones of lemons, grass, toasted oak, citrus, burnt sugar, banana and butterscotch. It is aged in used sherry barrels.

Ron Abuelo 12-Year-Old Rum (Panama): Amber colored with a complex nose of caramel, nuts, toasted oak and molasses. Fruity with flavors of orange, heather honey, dark cherries, molasses and toasted nuts. Superb, smooth rum.

Bacardi Reserva Limitata (Puerto Rico): Amber colored with hints of citrus, honey, tobacco, vanilla and maple syrup. Full flavored with a long, pleasing, almost sugary aftertaste.

Pyrat XO Reserve Rum (Antigua): Amber colored. The rum smells like an orange liqueur with hints of nutmeg. Full flavor of candied orange peel, lemon, lime and butterscotch. Quite refined; fantastic served over ice.

Appleton Reserve Blend Rum (Jamaica): Amber colored with a bouquet of molasses, burnt butter, nuts, clove, allspice, mace and oil of bergamot. Dry with a pleasing smoky, burnt-wood aftertaste. One of the finest Appleton rums I’ve tasted.

El Dorado 12-Year-Old Demerara Rum (Guyana): Amber colored with a bouquet of allspice, black pepper, caramel and toasted marshmallows. Flavors explode in the mouth with sugarcane, oranges, dates, prunes, orange peel and toasted nuts. Very well made and so delicious.

Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva Rum (Venezuela): Dark amber colored with a refined bouquet of citrus, toasted vanilla, nuts, prunes, toffee and orange zest. Flavors of orange, toffee, maple syrup and honey. The rum is aged in used PX sherry barrels, which accounts for the fruitiness in the mouth. Superb!

Fun fact: The Andrews Sisters, a famous female singing group, recorded the song, “Rum & Coca-Cola” on Oct. 18, 1944, for Decca Records.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Gin, Vodka, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

Sparkling wines can be red, white or rosé (pink) and dry, off-dry, semisweet or even sweet.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

The expression, “All that bubbles is not champagne,” might be overplayed, but it is true. Sparkling wines are made throughout the world in virtually every country that makes wine, and most countries have a local name for their “bubbly.” However, the term “champagne” is properly given to the sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France. Sparkling wines made in the U.S. must provide a geographic term such as New York, American, or California before the word “Champagne.”

A sparkling wine is an effervescent wine (contains bubbles) resulting from the secondary fermentation of wine within a closed container (bottle or tank). Sparkling wines are made globally from a multitude of different grapes and grape blends. Sparkling wines can be red, white or rosé (pink) and dry, off-dry, semisweet or even sweet. Prices also range from inexpensive to very expensive, sometimes costing hundreds of dollars per bottle.

Some recently tasted sparkling wines that should satisfy anyone’s taste are:

Codorníu Cuvée Clásico “Cava Brut,” Spain (blend of macabeo, parellada and xarel-lo grapes): Fine pin-point bubbles with a bouquet of green apples, lemon and brioche. Dry, clean and crispy in the mouth with a pleasing aftertaste of almonds. Fabulous with fried calamari.

Codorníu Anna Blanc de Blancs, Brut Reserva, Spain (blend of chardonnay, parellada, xarel-lo and macabeo grapes): Delicately flavored, elegant and beautifully balanced with a nice creamy mouthfeel and a lively, fruity-spicy aftertaste. Raw oysters with a hint of mignonette sauce pairs well.

2016 Montesel Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, DOCG, Brut, Italy: A top-of-the-line dry prosecco, which has a fruity bouquet of apples, citrus and fennel. Flavors of ginger, stone fruit and anise round out this beauty. Did anyone say dark chocolate with some fresh raspberries!

Philippe Deval Brut Crémant de Loire, AOC Loire Valley, France (blend of chenin blanc and chardonnay grapes): A flowery aroma of apple cider, citrus, nuts and peaches. Dry and lemony with ripe melon flavors and almond aftertaste. Serve with a fruit-based sauce over pork.

Cococciola Brut Spumante, Abruzzo, Italy: Cococciola is a white grape variety grown in the Abruzzo (some in Apulia) region since the early 1900s and used mostly for blending. This is the first sparkling wine I have seen from the grape variety and it is amazing! Pale straw colored with a perfumed aroma of apricots, honeysuckle, lychee and wild flowers. Flavors of citrus and orange, with hints of sage and toasted almonds. The aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle)! Pair this with some panettone, light fruit tarts or a bowl of strawberries with whipped cream.

By the way … the first recorded production of a bottle-fermented sparkling wine occurred as early as 1531 at the Abbey of Saint-Hilaire at Limoux in southern France, more than a century before Dom Pérignon arrived at Hautvillers.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

The word 'fondue' comes from the French word 'fonder,' meaning 'to melt.'

By Bob Lipinski

“Cheese complements a good meal and supplements a bad one.” — E. Briffault, French gastronome

Bob Lipinski

As the weather turns colder and days become shorter, thoughts of sitting around a roaring fire come to mind. Although freshly roasted chestnuts and large mugs of mulled wine or even hot chocolate satisfy, I enjoy dipping some crusty bread into a pot of melted cheese. Not just any cheese, but one that is flavored with kirsch (cherry brandy), garlic, white wine and seasonings. I’m talking fondue, a true Swiss tradition.

The word “fondue” comes from the French word “fondre,” meaning “to melt.” There are several kinds of fondue including the traditional cheese one and a meat fondue known as fondue bourguignonne from Burgundy, France, where cubes of raw beef are threaded on skewers, then dipped in bubbling hot oil for several minutes prior to being eaten with various dipping sauces.

Then there is a dessert fondue featuring chocolate, cream and liqueurs heated until melted, then used to coat pieces of cake or fruit.

When selecting wines to pair with fondue, choose fairly neutral dry white wines with good acidity, while avoiding oaky ones. My recommended white wines include a Swiss Fendant (Chasselas grape) or Neuchâtel; French Chablis or Muscadet; Grüner Veltliner, sauvignon blanc or dry Riesling. Choose red wines with little tannin and oak in favor of wines like Beaujolais, grenache, grignolino, and pinot noir.

The following fondue recipe is a modification of the original I enjoyed while in Switzerland. Although the recipe calls for the traditional Emmental or Gruyère cheese, you can also try Appenzeller, Beaufort or Comté and any combination of these cheeses.

Cheese Fondue

The word ‘fondue’ comes from the French word ‘fonder,’ meaning ‘to melt.’


3 cloves garlic, pressed

1 pound Emmental or Gruyère cheese, grated (not chopped)

1 teaspoon butter

½ cup dry white wine (see above recommendations)

¹/3 cup kirsch (cherry brandy, NOT “flavored” brandy)

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Nutmeg for dusting

Salt and white pepper to taste

¹⁄₈ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

DIRECTIONS: In an earthenware pot, rub the sides and bottom with garlic (add to pot), then add cheese, butter, white wine, kirsch (in which the cornstarch has been dissolved) and nutmeg. Place the pot over medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon. If the cheese forms into a thick mass, continue to stir and it will be re-absorbed. As the mixture continues to bubble, adjust flavor with salt and pepper, then add the bicarbonate of soda, which will make the fondue lighter. Now the fondue is ready to enjoy. Take cubes of crusty French or Italian bread; fasten onto foot-long, three-pronged, metal fondue forks and dip into the fondue for a moment or so before popping it into your mouth. Now enjoy a glass of some good Swiss wine!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

When bottled as a separate varietal, merlot’s flavors can be subtle or dramatic.

By Bob Lipinski

“Drinking the right wine at the right time is an art.” — Horace A. Vachell

Bob Lipinski

Some believe the name merlot was given to this black grape variety because blackbirds (known as merlau in Occitan in southern France) liked eating its plump, sweet-tasting flesh. Whether the story is factual cannot be determined, but what we do know is the first mention of merlot seems to be in the late 1780s in the Libourne district of Bordeaux, France.

According to DNA testing conducted in the mid-1990s, it was determined that the parents of the merlot grape are cabernet franc and the lesser-known Magdeleine Noire des Charentes grape from France.

Merlot is a medium acid red grape variety acknowledged worldwide as producing some of the finest dry red wines. It is the predominant red grape variety of the Bordeaux region as well as in other parts of France. Merlot is also grown in most wine-producing countries and used in wines from light-bodied and fruity to big, full-bodied wines of structure, tannin and great longevity.

Merlot is used in many red wine blends, offering fruit, succulence, acidity, color and overtones of jam and spices. When bottled as a separate varietal, its flavors can be subtle or dramatic, easily competing with some of the finest cabernet sauvignon wines. Two areas of the world where merlot really excels is the Pomerol district of Bordeaux and, surprisingly, in Washington State.

In the U.S., the Louis M. Martini Winery of Napa Valley, California, bottled the first “Merlot” as a separate varietal, blending the 1968 and 1970 wines from its Edgehill property, which was released in 1971.

Depending on where it is grown, merlot offers a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors. Merlot is generally bright ruby-red in color, producing scented, fruity wines, smelling and tasting very much of bell pepper, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry), black cherry, black currants, black olive, black tea, cedar, chocolate, cinnamon, coffee, green olive, herbs, licorice, maraschino cherry, peppermint, plum and spices.

Below are some good examples of merlot I recently had the opportunity to sample:

2014 Heller Estate “Merlot” Carmel Valley, California. Dark-colored with an intense bouquet and flavor of blackberries, black currants and cherries. Full-bodied, tannic and quite youthful with a lingering aftertaste of spicy herbs. Anybody for a rack of lamb with rosemary?!

2014 Boxwood Winery “Merlot” Trellis; Middleburg, Virginia. Yes, Virginia! The wine is dark colored with a full bouquet of spicy black cherries, black raspberries and some oak. Smooth and so easy to drink with a long aftertaste. Serve with some grilled portobello mushrooms.

2014 Selby “Merlot” Russian River Valley, California. Medium-ruby color with a fruity bouquet of fresh and dried berries, mint and hints of cranberry. Baking spices along with some wood and dried plums abound. A dish of pasta with some sun-dried tomatoes works for me.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

The cheese has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tart aftertaste, similar to cheddar.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Monterey Jack, a cow’s milk cheese, was developed in the 1880s in Monterey by a Scot merchant named David Jacks. He derived the name, Monterey Jack, from the shipping point, Monterey, California, and his last name, Jacks, minus the “s.” There are, however, several other versions as to the origin of Monterey Jack cheese.

Although the cheese was first developed and sold in Monterey, it is now produced in several other states and with variations from dairy to dairy. Most Monterey Jack has an inedible rind, often black in color. The rind is sometimes coated with a mixture of oil, pepper and cocoa. It generally has a pale yellow-orange interior with numerous small holes. It is rectangular or wheel shaped, depending on the preference of the dairy.

The cheese has a sweet, nutty flavor with a tart aftertaste, similar to cheddar. When old, the taste becomes sharp and tangy. It is sometimes flavored with caraway seeds, dill, fennel or jalapeño peppers. It has a semihard texture and when labeled “Dry Jack,” it is a hard, tangy cheese suitable for grating.

Dry Jack cheese is Monterey Jack that has been aged 6 to 9 months or longer. It came into existence during World War I, when San Francisco cheese wholesaler, D.F. DeBernardi found his Monterey Jack cheese had aged too long and “gone hard.” Italian immigrants immediately found it useful because it could be grated like Parmigiano-Reggiano or pecorino.

Monterey Jack is also called Sonoma Jack (brand name), California Jack or Jack. The cheese can be paired with syrah, merlot, zinfandel, and, of course, cabernet sauvignon.

Four California wines I recently tasted would pair quite well with a wedge of Monterey Jack. My tasting notes follow:

2010 Mayacamas, “Mt. Veeder” Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 95 percent cabernet sauvignon, 5 percent merlot; aged 36 months in oak). Full bouquet with flavors of dried berries, herbs, black currants, dill and coffee. Full bodied, tannic and still quite youthful.

2012 Inglenook “Cask” Rutherford, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 85 percent cabernet sauvignon, 12 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent merlot; aged 18 months in oak). Dark colored with a bouquet brimming with berries (blackberry and blueberry), black cherries and black currants. Layers of fruit; great depth of flavor with plenty of acidity.

2013 Hourglass “Blueline Estate” Merlot, Calistoga: (blend of 84 percent merlot, 12 percent cabernet sauvignon, 4 percent malbec; aged 2 to 3 years in oak). Deepest color, very fruity with hints of plums, chocolate and spices. Quite smooth and elegant with toasted oak on the finish.

2012 Snowden “The Ranch” Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon: (blend of 75 percent cabernet sauvignon, 14 percent merlot, 8 percent cabernet franc, 3 percent petit verdot; aged 18 months in oak). Great depth of color; fruity and powerful with a certain sweetness; concentrated flavors and very complex with overtones of dark chocolate, oak and black currants.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

No, we’re not talking about Kansas or Dorothy! The Rhône Valley, a major grape-growing region, is located below Burgundy in the southeast of France. Rhône Valley’s wine production is more than 80 percent red with some whites and even rosé wines.

In northern Rhône, the powerful reds are made principally from Syrah grapes, while in the south Grenache rules along with some Syrah. White wines made in the region are from Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier and other grapes.

My cheese recommendations for the wines are two families of goat’s (and some sheep) milk cheeses — Picodon and Tomme. If you can’t find them try Banon, Camembert, Cantal, or Saint-Marcellin.

I recently had an opportunity to taste the red, white, and rosé wines of Château Mont-Redon.

2016 Château Mont-Redon “Lirac Blanc” (Blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Viognier). Perfumed bouquet and flavor of citrus, orange peel, peach and pear. Clean, lively and zesty with a pleasant aftertaste. Serve with Thai chicken in a spicy peanut sauce.

2015 Château Mont-Redon “Lirac Rouge” (Blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre). Aroma and flavors of blackberry, black cherries, black tea and licorice. Hints of toasted bread and violets abound. Try some blackened tuna with a mild wasabi sauce and cubes of pineapple.

2016 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Blanc (Blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier). Explosive bouquet of orange peel and stone fruit. Clean in the mouth with a crispy finish and long aftertaste. Several slices of Virginia or honey-ham would work nicely.

2016 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Rosé (Blend of Grenache and Syrah). Salmon-colored with flavors of watermelon and raspberries. Dry and easy to drink with a strawberry finish. Delicious! A fun wine to drink with pizza, nachos, or some smoky ribs.

2014 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Rouge (Blend of Syrah and Grenache) Ruby-colored with a bouquet and flavor of spicy jam, mulberry, licorice, tea, raspberries, and raisins. Grab a thick veal chop grilled with rosemary and finished with a mushroom sauce.

2014 Château Mont-Redon “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” Blanc (Principally from Grenache and Roussanne with a lesser amount of Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Picpoul) Intense floral bouquet of honeysuckle and daffodils with flavors of citrus, hazelnuts, marzipan and peaches. Great finish and lingering aftertaste. Don’t over chill. Try it with grilled halibut in a citrus sauce and wild rice.

2014 Château Mont-Redon “Châteauneuf-du-Pape” Rouge (Principally from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, with a lesser amount of Cinsaut, Counoise, Muscardin, and Vaccarèse) Maroon-colored with a bouquet of herbs, jalapeño pepper, dried berries, and black tea. Dry and full-bodied with flavors of dark cherry, plums, raisins and figs. Still quite tannic and needs several more years of cellaring. I served it with a Porterhouse steak and baked potatoes. Excellent.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written ten books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple”, available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Uruguay, a tiny country on South America’s east coast, is bordered by Argentina and Brazil. This is a country with the highest per-capital beef consumption in the world, where cattle outnumber people four to one.

The chivito (translates as “little goat”) is the national sandwich of Uruguay, which is jam-packed with flavor and ingredients. Thin, grilled slices of beef are covered with mozzarella, lettuce, tomatoes, bacon and a fried egg. Many optional toppings including onions, olives, peppers, pickles, mayonnaise and ketchup have also found their way into the sandwich.

Uruguay is South America’s fourth biggest wine producer (after Argentina, Chile and Brazil), but currently less than 5 percent of its bottles are exported. There are about 190 wineries with 22,500 acres of vineyards planted to sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, viognier, albariño, merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.

But the grape Uruguay is most famous for is tannat, a thick-skinned, dark grape capable of producing incredible dark, rich and full-bodied red wines. Tannat, originally from the Madiran district near Bordeaux, France, has 6,500 acres planted, making Uruguay the world’s largest producer.

Beginning in 2018, every bottle of wine from Uruguay will carry a QR code on the label, which can be scanned to reveal everything you need to know about the wine, including soil and vineyard parcel number.

I had an opportunity to taste some of the wines and here are my notes. (Note: Serve all recommended cheeses at room temperature for optimum enjoyment.)

2011 Viña Progreso “Elisa’s Dreams” Tannat. Very dark fruit with plenty of structure, fruit flavor and balance. Pair this wine with some Gouda.

2011 Alto de la Ballena “Tannat 85 percent; Viognier 15 percent.” Bouquet of blackberries, black tea and cocoa. Full-bodied and perfumed with flavors of black cherries. Pairs well with Applewood, a smoked cheddar cheese from England.

2011 Alto de la Ballena “Cabernet Franc.” Deep, garnet colored with a full bouquet and taste of berries, black currants and cherries. Full-bodied and loaded with tannin. Serve with a piece of Cantal cheese from France.

2011 Alto de la Ballena “Merlot.” Bright ruby color with a luscious bouquet of spicy cherries and cinnamon. Medium bodied with flavors of plums and spices. Try with some fontina cheese from Italy.

2015 Bodega Garzón “Sauvignon Blanc.” Perfumed bouquet of citrus, grapefruit and pineapple. Dry with flavors of green apple, melon and mint. Pairs well with feta cheese from Greece.

2015 Bodega Garzón “Albariño.” Tropical overtones with pineapple and papaya in abundance. Flavors of white peach, kiwi, apricot and citrus. Hints of jasmine and litchi. Serve with Bel Paese cheese from Italy and plain crackers.

2014 Bodega Garzón “Tannat.” A full bouquet and taste of black raspberries, black currants, cocoa, dried plums, spices, raisins and coffee. The aftertaste is long and quite pleasing. Don’t miss it! A wedge of your favorite blue cheese would work quite well.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

Stock photo

“Barbecue is 25 percent inspiration and 75 percent perspiration.” — Bob Lipinski

By Bob Lipinski

I love to barbecue and enjoy grilling steaks, chops, ribs, vegetables, seafood and most other foods. While I’m grilling over hot coals, plenty of water or beer seems to quench my thirst, although a glass or two of a chilled white or red wine also works quite nicely, providing they’re dry with little or no oak.

I’ve put together a list of some recently tasted Italian red wines that I hope you too will enjoy with lunch or dinner.

2013 Casali Maniago “Refosco dal Peduncolo,” Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Ruby-colored with a fruity bouquet and flavor of spicy cherries, blackberries, plums and mint. Its high acidity makes it a wonderful accompaniment to steaks with a higher fat content.

2015 Torre Santa “La Rocca” Negroamaro, Apulia: Dark ruby color with a powerful bouquet and flavor of dark berries, coffee, dried plums, raisins and spices. Hints of cedar and licorice, with a bitter finish and aftertaste. Great for grilled vegetables brushed with extra-virgin olive oil and rosemary.

2015 Torre Santa “La Rocca” Primitivo, Apulia: Deeply colored with a bouquet and flavor of blackberry and blueberry, cherries, licorice and raisins. Dry with an aftertaste of figs, dried plums and nuts. Perfect with a chunk of Monterey Jack cheese served at room temperature.

2014 Fonte del Bacco “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo,” Abruzzo: Cherry-colored with a pleasing, fruity bouquet and flavor of blackberries and black cherries. Jammy flavors with plum, spice and mulberry abound. Some grilled eggplant with pesto would work well.

2012 La Fortezza “Aglianico,” Campania: Ruby-colored with a distinctive bouquet and flavor of cherries, red licorice and plums, with nuances of black pepper, tobacco and earthiness. Pair it with Asiago, Parmigiano-Reggiano or provolone cheese.

2013 Bava “Libera” Barbera d’Asti, Piedmont: Garnet-colored with a deep bouquet of berries and spices. In the mouth, there are flavors of boysenberry, raspberry, black figs and licorice with hints of rosemary, nutmeg and violets. Perfect with a dish of spaghetti topped with spicy tomatoes.

2008 Bava “Barolo,” Piedmont: This 100 percent Nebbiolo wine was aged about three years in wood, followed by at least two years in the bottle prior to release. Maroon-colored with a fragrance of withered flowers, truffles, violets, dried fruit and licorice. Full-bodied and tannic in the mouth with flavors of mulberry, cherries, almonds, black pepper and dried plums. I’d serve this beauty with risotto and porcini mushrooms or grilled portobello mushrooms.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit, and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Countless articles and books include information, charts, diagrams and so forth on how we are supposed to pair cheese with wine and which combinations are made in heaven. (I’ve had a few that were probably made in hell!) Some of the more enlightened folk even recommend and discuss pairing cheese with beer, especially with the tremendous growth of craft beers and brewpubs.

But what about pairing cheese with spirits — you know … whiskey, vodka, brandy, rum, liqueurs and even grappa? It’s really not difficult once you understand the basics of spirits and how their flavors can interact with many cheeses that same way wine does.

As with cheese and wine, your cheese and spirits should complement each other. The secret is to avoid having either overpowered by the other, and spirits with an alcoholic beverage hovering around 40 percent the task becomes greater.

Be certain to slightly chill the spirits to around 65 to 68 degrees. Higher temperatures will certainly bring the alcohol to the forefront of your nose and mouth. Choose your favorite glass, and, if you like drinking your spirits over ice, refrigerate them instead.

The spirits and cheese recommendations below are from a recent tasting I conducted:

Moletto Gin, Veneto, Italy (86 proof) Perhaps the most incredible gin I’ve ever encountered! Yes, the familiar juniper berry notes along with rosemary, mint, basil and hint of citrus are there, but the kicker is an initial burst of fresh tomatoes! This gin was macerated for 45 days with San Marzano tomatoes from Italy. Recommended cheeses: Bel Paese, Boulette d’Avesnes, Leyden or mozzarella.

Moletto Grappa di Arneis, Italy (80 proof) Bouquet and flavor of spicy cherries, dried flowers, herbs, spices and dried fruits. Subtle hints of black pepper, raisins and apricot are present in the aftertaste. Recommended cheeses: Creamy Gorgonzola, herbed cheese, Gouda or Montasio.

Le Reviseur “V.S.” Single Estate, Cognac France (80 proof) A full, warming bouquet and flavor of dried fruits (raisins, dates, cherries), along with spices and dark berries. Hints of chocolate and plums are present in an ultra-smooth taste. Recommended cheeses: brie, Camembert, Livarot or Roquefort.

Laird’s “Straight Apple Brandy” New Jersey (100 proof) A brandy made from about 20 pounds of apples and aged around three years in charred oak barrels. An intense aroma of cider, baked apples, cloves and vanilla. Warming in the mouth with hints of honey, caramel and spices and a smooth finish. The aftertaste remains for some time. Recommended cheeses: Bondon, cheddar, Petit-Suisse or Pont l’Évêque.

Charles Goodnight “Bourbon,” 6 years old, Kentucky (100 proof) A heady bouquet of oak, caramel, smoky tobacco and vanilla. Warming flavors of spices, coconut and toasted almonds. Surprisingly smooth with an aftertaste of honey. Recommended cheeses: Asiago, Kefalotyri, Monterey Jack or Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

“The first duty of wine is to be red. The second is to be a Burgundy.”

— Alec Waugh, 1898-1981, British novelist, “In Praise of Wine,” 1959

By Bob Lipinski

The superb 2015 vintage is described by Jancis Robinson, M.W. as “seriously impressive.” The vintage produced excellent red and white wines across the board. The red wines I tasted were loaded with heaps of ripe, concentrated fruit, good acidity and considerable flavor. The whites displayed a fine balance between fruit, acidity and alcohol. Fruit was dominant in most of the wines I tasted with a striking array of flavors.

Bob LIpinski

At a recent trade tasting featuring the 2015 Burgundies, there were more than 100 wines to taste, and although I tried my best, I couldn’t taste them all! Below are some of my tasting notes.

2015 J.J. Vincent, Pouilly-Fuissé “Marie Antoinette”: (The name a tribute to Jean Jacques Vincent’s mother, Marie Antoinette Vincent): Pale straw-colored with an abundant bouquet of almonds, green apples, and citrus. Medium-bodied and quite refined, with layers of peach, melon and minerals.

2015 Château Fuissé, Pouilly-Fuissé “Tête de Cru”: Light and quite refreshing bouquet of minerals and apples with some toasted notes. Flavor is rich, tasting of vanilla, yellow plum and citrus.

2015 Château Fuissé, Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Combettes”: Bouquet of citrus, tropical fruit and pear. In the mouth, it is refreshing, medium-bodied and balanced, with flavors of yellow plums, orange and licorice.

2015 Château Fuissé, Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Brûlés”: Light straw-colored with a light bouquet of pear, apples and citrus. A full-flavored wine tasting very much of honey, butterscotch, coconut, toasted nuts and vanilla.

2015 Billaud-Simon, Chablis “1er Cru Mont de Milieu”: Complex nose combines citrus fruit with melon notes, enticing tangerine flavor and firm acidity.

2015 Billaud-Simon, Chablis “1er Cru Vaillons”: Medium-bodied, dry, lively and clean tasting with flavors of spices, peach and orange and a minerally finish and well-balanced aftertaste.

2015 Billaud-Simon, Chablis “Vaudésir Grand Cru”: A spicy bouquet and flavor of oranges, peaches and melon, with plenty of vanilla. Clean, minerally finish and lingering aftertaste.

2015 Billaud-Simon, Chablis “Montée de Tonnerre 1er”: Refreshing aroma of oranges, peaches and citrus. Nutty with flavors of tart tangerine, melon and a sort of minerally chalky character.

2015 Armand Rousseau,“Gevrey-Chambertin”: Deeply colored with a medium-full bouquet of plums, roses, violets and citrus. Full in the mouth with tart plums and spicy cherries. Great finish.

2015 Armand Rousseau, “Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru”: Deep ruby color; full bouquet of raspberries and Marasca cherries; silky with layers of berries, light tannins and citrus. What a wine!

2015 Armand Rousseau, “Clos de la Roche Grand Cru”: Bright ruby color: bouquet of jammy spices, plums, cola and cinnamon. Almost a sweetness in the mouth with concentrated fruit, tannin and berries.

2015 Armand Rousseau, “Chambertin Grand Cru”: This wine stole the show (to me). Sweet, concentrated, jammy, spicy fruit; layers of fruit, blackberries, chocolate and damson plums.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or