Authors Posts by Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski


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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

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“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

By Bob Lipinski

“Irish diplomacy is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to making the trip.” (Irish saying)

Bob Lipinski

Before you begin cooking the corned beef, you will need some good old-fashioned pants-slapping music. Naturally, the Irish Rovers or Clancy Brothers would be a great choice. Now, the best songs to listen to include “The Unicorn,” “The Orange and the Green,” “Goodbye Mrs. Durkin,” “Black Velvet Band,” “Donald Where’s Your Trousers,” “Bridget Flynn,” “Lilly The Pink,” and “Harrigan.”

To help celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day, here’s the scoop on corned beef.

The term corned beef has nothing to do with American corn, but rather an English term from the seventeenth century, for curing and preserving a brisket of beef in salt, which at one time was in the form of pellets (or grains of salt), called corns. Today “corning” is the term used to describe the process of curing a brisket of beef by steeping it in a pickling solution.

Here’s what I use to cook corned beef. Photo by Bob Lipinski

Corned beef, a staple of all Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, is generally cooked by steam, although some cooks prefer to boil, bake or even microwave it (ouch, when you see the electric bill.) I have found that steaming the corned beef in a tall pot used for steaming clams minimizes shrinkage, maintains moisture and cooks in less time than other methods. Be certain the bottom of the steamer pot is filled with water, plus the pickling spices, which are often packed with the corned beef. (You can use a tablespoon of pickling spices, available in the supermarket if needed.) Do not trim off any fat pre-cooking; it adds to the moisture. Cook according to the package or your butcher’s advice. To keep the corned beef tender after cooking, let it rest for five minutes before serving. Now, remove any excess fat. To avoid stringy, cooked meat, be certain to slice against the grain.

Between the Irish music, the parade up Fifth Avenue and eating chunks of Irish soda bread, I enjoy beer on Saint Patrick’s Day. Everyone has their favorite and the most popular Irish beers are Beamish, Galway Hooker, Guinness, Harp, Murphy’s, O’Hara’s and Smithwick’s. However, my favorite is Guinness Foreign Export Stout, available only in four-packs. Guinness Stout is relatively low in carbonation and should ideally be served at 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you prefer wine, my suggestions for white wines are chenin blanc, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, riesling and sylvaner. Red wines are barbera, Bardolino, Beaujolais, Chianti and pinot noir. Equally fine is rosé, white zinfandel and a blanc de noirs sparkling 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at or

“I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate … And I drink Champagne when I lose, to console myself.”

 (Napoléon Bonaparte I, 1769–1821, French General and Emperor)

By Bob Lipinski

I love “bubbly” … sparkling wines that dance on my tongue, revealing their subtle or bold flavors. Some are crisp and quite dry, while others are off-dry or even sweet. Virtually every country makes them and they are available in all sorts of style and prices. I would like to share with you some champagne and sparkling wines that I’ve recently tasted, which are worth purchasing.


NV Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” (Champagne, France). Clean and crisp with hints of brioche, citrus and celery. Quite dry, with a long, pleasing aftertaste.

NV André Jacquart Mesnil “Brut Nature” (Champagne, France). Green apple and citrus aromas with subtle flavors of pears and nuts. Very dry and palate cleansing.

2008 Pol Roger “Brut” (Champagne, France). Straw-colored with an aroma of biscuits, butter and citrus. Dry, with flavors of spices, toasted bread and green apple.

2006 Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” (Champagne, France). An aroma of red apples, wheat and citrus. Medium-bodied with flavors of green apple, orange and spices.

1995 Charles Heidsieck “Blanc de Millénaires” (Champagne, France). Bouquet of toasted bread, citrus and green apple. Medium-bodied and dry, with delicate pear and apple flavors.

Cheeses that pair nicely with champagne are Beaufort, Boursault, Camembert, Carré de l’Est, Langres and Maroilles.


NV Bortolotti “47” Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, DOCG, “Extra Dry” (Italy). Wow… what a long name! Medium-full bodied with bouquet and flavor of peaches, apricots, flowers and a hint of coffee.

NV Terre di San Venanzio, Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG “Brut” (Italy). Medium-bodied with a floral bouquet of stone fruits, apples and citrus. Dry with hints of fennel and ginger.

NV Nino Franco Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Brut” (Italy). Lovely bouquet of apricots, wild flowers and citrus. Off-dry with hints of almonds.

Cheeses that pair nicely with prosecco include Asiago, Bagozzo, fontina, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino and Asiago Pressato.

The next two wines are slightly effervescent or as the Italians call them, “frizzante.” They are best served with panettone, fruit-based desserts or some Robiola de Roccaverano, a goat’s milk cheese from Piedmont. Two other recommended cheeses are Aostino and Gorgonzola.

Coppo 2015 Moncalvina Moscato d’Asti DOCG (Italy). Straw-colored, with greenish reflections. Floral notes along with peach and pear overtones. Semisweet with some citrus for balance.

Michele Chiarlo 2015 Nivole Moscato d’Asti DOCG (Italy). Intensely aromatic and fruity, suggestive of sage, grapefruit, apricot and meringue.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at

In the UK and Europe, the term Swiss cheese has no meaning.

By Bob Lipinski

“What is a harp but an oversized cheese slicer with cultural pretensions?”

— Denis Norden, English comedy writer

“Swiss cheese” as we know it doesn’t really exist. It is a generic term often used in North America for any type of cheese, regardless of where it comes from, as long as it has a pale-yellow body and is literally full of holes or “eyes,” with a rubbery texture. And this holds true for both imported and “domestic” Swiss cheeses.

Most of the time the cheese is actually Emmentaler from Switzerland or Jarlsberg from Norway. In the UK and Europe, the term Swiss cheese has no meaning and asking for a “pound of Swiss cheese” would be the equivalent of saying, “I’d like a pound of Italian cheese” in Italy, whereby Italians would ask, “Which Italian cheese?”

Switzerland produces more than 450 varieties of cheese (mostly from cow’s milk) and they are not all called “Swiss Cheese.” Emmentaler, a cow’s milk cheese comes from the Emme Valley (near Bern), Switzerland, where it has been made since the fifteenth century. It has a pale-yellow exterior with large shiny holes and a natural edible rind; light yellow interior and is wheel-shaped. It is firm to very firm; with an almost elastic, smooth, plastic texture and slightly oily. Emmentaler is mild to full-flavored, with a sweet, fruity, nutty flavor. A younger and milder version is known as Baby Swiss. Genuine Swiss Emmentaler has the word “Switzerland” stamped all over the rind.

By the way, the holes in the cheese are produced by carbonic acid gas bubbles during fermentation or bacterial activity, which generates propionic acid and causes gas to expand within the curd also creates the holes. The bubbles are unable to escape, which is responsible for the “hole” formation ranging from pinhead size to dime or quarter size. They are sometimes made mechanically for appearance sake. Before serving the cheese, allow it to sit for 30 minutes to one hour at room temperature, which will soften the texture, release the aromas and maximize the flavor.

Now my wine recommendations:

2015 Torre Santa La Rocca “Bombino Nero” Rosé (Italy): Salmon color with an intense fruity bouquet of cherry, strawberry and melon. Dry and quite flavorful; citrus, orange and raspberries abound. Great for Sunday brunch.

2012 Château Prieurs de la Commanderie (Pomerol, Bordeaux): (80 percent merlot/ 20 percent cabernet franc). Bouquet and flavor of black cherry, plums and cedar. Medium-bodied, quite smooth and very easy to drink now or in a few years. I think of lamb chops rubbed with rosemary.

2014 Komodo Dragon “Red Blend” Columbia Valley, Washington: Quite dark with a full bouquet and flavor of black currants, black cherries, chocolate and licorice. Hints of nutmeg, cinnamon, coffee and vanilla. Pair this with a porterhouse steak.

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

A mug of eggnog sets the tone for the holidays

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinksi

When I think of “winter drinks to warm me up,” my thoughts immediately run to sitting in a ski lodge after a day on the slopes watching the snow fall through a large picture window, while snuggled in front of a roaring fire with a warm drink in my hand.

Let’s forget the slopes for a moment and pretend you’re home; perhaps just after finishing shoveling snow, relaxing and needing something to remove the chill and warm your bones. I have just the remedy for you.

Cocktails or drinks served warm or even hot have been with us for hundreds of years; some made in the U.S. and others take their history, tradition and ingredients from far off lands. Below are some of my favorite beverages to “take off the chill.”

Eggnog: A rich, nonalcoholic dairy beverage made with egg yolks, cream and sugar and generally served during cold weather. The alcoholic version includes brandy or rum as well. The word “eggnog,” first used around 1775, is probably a corruption of “Egg-and-Grog.”

Mulled wine: (United States) A sweetened and spiced red wine drink to which sugar, lemon peel and spices such as nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon are added. It is then heated by a loggerhead and served very warm to hot. A type of mulled wine made in Austria and Germany is “glühwein.” Below are several types of mulled wine drinks … Bishop, glögg and Negus.

Bishop: (England) One of the many versions of a mulled wine popular with undergraduates at Oxford and Cambridge in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is made with port wine, sugar, spices and an orange stuck with cloves. The drink is then heated and served warm. It is a traditional beverage in England and northern Europe.

Glögg: (Nordic countries) A traditional hot-spiced drink similar to hot mulled wine usually consumed during the cold weather. It is made from a combination of aquavit or brandy, red wine, cardamom, cloves, sugar, raisins, almonds and other ingredients. Glögg is served warm in glasses containing a small cinnamon stick, raisins, currants or almonds.

Negus: (England) A hot wine (generally port or sherry) drink often sweetened and flavored with various spices, named after Colonel Francis Negus (1670–1732), an English military officer.

Hot buttered rum dates back to the 1650s in New England

Hot buttered rum: A cocktail consisting of dark rum, brown sugar, cloves, butter and boiling water, dating back to the 1650s in New England.

Hot toddy: (England) A drink dating back to the 1700s consisting of brandy, whiskey or other distilled spirits with hot water, sugar, lemon juice, cloves, cinnamon and other spices. Toddy is derived from the Hindu word “tari” used for the sap or juice of a palm tree. This sap was often fermented to create an alcoholic beverage. If you can’t find a hot beverage while out on the slopes, then perhaps look for a Saint Bernard dog, usually identified with the carrying of a small keg of brandy or other distilled spirits around its neck to give relief and warmth to stranded skiers.

Happy Holidays!

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