Authors Posts by Bob Lipinski

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By Bob Lipinski

Your mouth is on fire, your heart is pounding, your forehead is perspiring, your eyes are watering, your nose is running, your throat is dry, and still — you want more fire in your mouth. Why do some people enjoy this “fire” while others keep a safe distance from these incendiary little green or red peppers?

Capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the chili’s heat, causes the body to release endorphins (neurochemicals), the body’s natural painkillers that are akin to morphine. These chemicals give the body a sense of well-being and contentment, sparking desire for another round of eating fire. In addition, capsaicin also stimulates pain receptors in the mouth and on the tongue. The brain then orders the mouth to salivate, the nose to run and the gastrointestinal tract to step up its work. The body sweats to cool itself.

Contrary to popular belief, the heat in a chili pepper is not in the seeds. You will find most of the capsaicin in the placenta — the white membrane or veins in the pepper’s middle. However, because the seeds can pick up capsaicin on contact, it’s wise to remove both membrane and seeds if you’re heat shy.

Water does not put out the fire in your mouth because the oily resins in capsaicin are not water soluble.

Green chili peppers are high in vitamin C — in fact, one pepper has more vitamin C than an orange; when the red chili deepens in color, the hotter it is and the more vitamins A and C it contains. Chilis are high in fiber and low in calories and they contain no cholesterol or fat.

With chili peppers, the shape generally indicates flavor and heat level. The smaller and narrower the chili, the hotter it is; however, there are exceptions, e.g., the habanero pepper. Hot chili peppers originated in South America, and the precise birthplace is believed to be in the Andean foothills of central Bolivia.

Handling hot chili peppers
When handling chilies, wear rubber gloves, which protect not only the hands but also the face, eyes and other sensitive areas with which the hands come in contact. After working with chilies, wash your hands, the cutting board, the knife and the rubber gloves thoroughly with hot, soapy water.

Putting out “The Fire
Water does not put out the fire in your mouth because the oily resins in capsaicin are not water soluble. It’s the protein casein in milk that acts like a detergent, stripping the capsaicin from the receptors. Milk products such as yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cheese or even milk puts out the fire. Starchy foods such as bread, pasta, potatoes or rice tend to absorb or dilute capsaicin. Sweet desserts or even honey also helps modify the intense burning.

Pairing chili peppers with beverages
Most people prefer a cold beer to “put out the fire.” Beer and sparkling wines help cleanse the palate with their carbonation while at the same time they slightly anesthetize the inside of mouth. Fruity wines, such as riesling, chenin blanc, Gewürztraminer and white zinfandel afford a good contrast to heat and the fruitiness offsets some of the pepper’s heat. A glass of cold saké, dry white vermouth or even a dry sherry also pairs well. Avoid oaky wines and those full-bodied, red wines that are loaded with tannins. However, smoked chili peppers, such as chipotle, pair well with a red zinfandel or syrah.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food, in addition to sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR Bob@HIBS-USA.com.

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“I made a mental note to watch which bottle became empty soonest, sometimes a more telling evaluation system than any other.” — Gerald Asher, “On Wine,” 1982

By Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally sample and evaluate more than 50 alcoholic beverages — wine, spirits, beer, and sake — per week. And no, I don’t need an assistant. Some are good, some are very good to excellent; while others are, how do I say it, not very good. I prefer to talk about the beverage rather than assign it an arbitrary number rating.

For many, the wines of France evoke pictures of lush vineyards filled with ripe grapes, huge fermentation tanks and rows of barrels filled with some of the world’s finest wines. France’s reputation as a great wine-producing country is solidly based on centuries of winemaking experience and the country’s climate and soil, which are ideal for growing the world’s great wine grapes. France is divided into six major wine-producing regions. They are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley.

Here are my French wine picks:

2010 Frédéric Mallo Riesling, Réserve Spéciale, Alsace, France. Pale yellow color with a fresh aroma of stone fruit, citrus, pears, and red apples. Medium-bodied with a good balance and flavors of apples, cantaloupe and peach nectar. Serve it chilled with softshell crabs, raw clams or oysters, or just a dish of spaghetti with white clam sauce.

2010 Domaine Charles Baur Riesling, Grand Cru Brand, Alsace, France. Bright golden-colored with a lush, full bouquet of honey, apricot jam, dried fruit and nectarines. Full in the mouth with citrus, Granny Smith apples, and some minerality. I would pair with smoked salmon, smoked cheddar and Gouda, or some honey-cured ham.

2014 Grange des Dames, Ventoux, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, carignan, and cinsaut grapes. Salmon-colored with an explosive, fruity, spicy bouquet; quite floral. Light-bodied, grapy and somewhat citrusy. Flavors of Red Delicious apple with an aftertaste of red cherries. Serve it with lobster, crab, or shrimp salad. It would be perfect with paella or jambalaya.

2013 Château d’Aquéria, Tavel, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, and clairette grapes. Rich, deep rosé color, from brief skin contact with the grape juice. Red berry aromas, including cranberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied with flavors of musk melon, peaches, and red cherries. It drinks like a red wine, so don’t over-chill. Match this wine with grilled sausages, eggplant, and zucchini. Wonderful for light, red-sauced foods.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food, in addition to sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

A storybook region dotted with picturesque villages in France, Alsace occupies a narrow strip of land between Strasbourg and Mulhouse. It is no more than four miles wide and about 40 miles long, with a total area of approximately 40,000 acres. It is nestled between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, just east of Champagne and Burgundy. Alsace is divided into two sections — the Bas-Rhin in the north and Haut-Rhin in the south.

Alsace produces one-fifth of all of France’s white wines entitled to the AOC designation. Because it is located so far north, there is generally insufficient sunshine for the red grapes to ripen fully. Therefore, better than 90 percent of all wines are white.

Some of the better-known wines of Alsace are Riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, sylvaner, pinot noir, pinot gris, muscat à petit grains, chasselas, and Klevener de Heiligenstein. The wines range from very dry, through semisweet and even sweet. There is also a fabulous dry sparkling wine called crémant d’Alsace.

I recently attended an Alsatian wine press event featuring the wines of Hugel et Fils and Domaine François Baur, which are perfect for hot summertime weather. Below are the wines that I tasted and highly recommend:

2013 Hugel Gentil, a blend of primarily gewürztraminer paired with varying amounts of pinot gris, Riesling, muscat and sylvaner.
2013 Hugel Riesling.
2008 Hugel Riesling Jubilee.
2012 Hugel Gewürztraminer.
2013 Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvée Les Amours.
NV Domaine François Baur Crémant d’Alsace, made from a blend of Riesling, pinot blanc, pinot gris, and chardonnay grapes, while pinot noir is used for the rosé version.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Blanc Herrenweg.
2012 Domaine François Baur Riesling Herrenweg.
2007 Domaine François Baur Gewürztraminer Grand Cru– Brand.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Gris Herrenweg.
2010 Domaine François Baur Gewürztraminer Herrenweg.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Noir Schlittweg.

When searching for cheeses to pair with these wines stay with the soft, mild style, and definitely not too salty. Two cheeses that I like from Alsace that are worth searching for are:

Lingot d’Or (lan-GOH dohr) A brick-shaped, cow’s milk cheese, which is quite similar to Munster.

Munster (MUHN-stuhr). A semisoft to firm, cow’s milk cheese with a somewhat edible, ivory or orange to red exterior; creamy white to buttery yellow interior with small holes; cylindrical, rectangular, and wheel-shaped.

It has a pungent smell sometimes of mushrooms; complex, strong and tangy flavor; slightly salty, nutty taste; sometimes flavored with aniseed, caraway, or cumin seeds. The word Munster means monastery and it was the Benedictine monks, who came from Ireland, in the Munster valley of the Vosges Mountains who introduced cheese-making to this area as early as the seventh century.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese, sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

Beer, one of the world’s great social lubricants, is ideal for celebrating Father’s Day, or any other day for that matter. Beer is a generic term for all alcoholic beverages that are fermented and brewed from malted barley — other ingredients can be used such corn and rice — hops, water and yeast. Beer is subdivided into two distinct categories — ale and lager.

bob-lipinski-beer-wAle is fermented fast and warm, producing richly flavored beers with a slightly darker color than lager beer. Ale usually has more hops in its aroma and taste, and is often lower in carbonation than lager-type beers. It is usually bitter to the taste, with a slight tanginess, although some ale can be sweet. Ale is originally from England, where it is referred to as bitters. Some examples of ale are brown, pale, scotch, Belgian, Trappist, stout and porter.

Lager is fermented slow and cool, producing delicately flavored beers. It was developed in Germany around the 15th century. The Germans first introduced it into the United States in 1840, in Philadelphia, through a Bavarian brewer named John Wagner. Lager comes from the German word lagern — to store — and is applied to bottom-fermented beer in particular because it must be stored at low temperatures for a prolonged time. Lagers were traditionally stored in cellars or caves for completion of fermentation. They are bright gold to yellow in color, with a light to medium body, and are usually well carbonated. Unless stated otherwise, virtually every beer made in the United States is a lager. Some examples of lager are pilsner, bock (including doppelbock, eisbock, maibock), märzen/fest beer, Vienna style, dortmunder, Munich helles and pale lager.

Beer, a most versatile beverage, can also be used in cooking in place of wine in most recipes.

Cooking suggestions: Replace the wine with beer in your favorite marinade for chicken, pork, beef, turkey, or even lamb. When making a flour, water and egg batter for frying foods, such as eggplant or zucchini, substitute beer for the water. For seafood pasta with shellfish, like shrimp, scungilli or calamari, cooked in tomato sauce, add a bottle of dark beer and some hot pepper flakes for increased flavor and texture.

Bob’s Beer Bread
3 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 12-ounce bottle of your favorite beer — not light — at room temperature
1/4 cup butter, melted
Pre-heat oven to 375°F. Sift flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl. Add the beer and continue to stir until dough no longer sticks to sides of bowl (about 1 minute). Put dough into a lightly greased and floured 9” x 5” loaf pan. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until golden brown. Spread melted butter over the top of the bread during the last 10 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 -20 minutes before slicing.

This Father’s Day, sit down with dad and enjoy a frosty cold one.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on amazon.com. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or Bob@HIBS-USA.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

When I remember Father’s Day, visions of barbecuing steaks, hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs over “real charcoal,” bottles of beer, platters of cold macaroni and potato salad, and of course, slices of sour dill pickles come to mind. Well, this Father’s Day I’m barbecuing, with a gas grill, shell steaks with a dry rub, Caesar salad, baked potatoes, a bottle (or two) of cabernet sauvignon, and of course, a pickle!

I like cabernet sauvignon, as do many people, because of its bouquet, body, flavor, and adaptability to most rich, full-bodied foods. Let’s spend some time exploring this globally, universally accepted red grape variety.

Cabernet sauvignon is a thick-skinned, red grape variety acknowledged worldwide as producing some of the finest dry red wines and is often referred to as the noblest of all red grape varieties. In France, it is grown principally in the Bordeaux region, although planted in other regions as well.

In 1997, Carole Meredith, a professor of enology and viticulture at the University of California at Davis, revealed cabernet sauvignon’s parentage through DNA testing. She stated that it is “150 trillion times” more likely that cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc– rather than any other varieties– were responsible for the cross-pollination leading to cabernet sauvignon’s appearance in the late seventeenth century. Cabernet sauvignon berries are quite small, with a high ration of pits and skin to pulp. By the way, around 1860, Almaden Vineyards produced California’s first commercial cabernet sauvignon wine.

Cabernet sauvignon covers a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors—asparagus, bell pepper, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry), black or green olives, black cherry, black currants, black tea, celery, chocolate, dill, licorice, mint, plum, soy, and various herbs can be detected. Some of the aromas and flavors from oak barrels are cedar, coffee, leather, sandalwood, smoke, and vanilla.

While we’re talking about cabernet and barbecuing, you can’t go wrong with a juicy New York strip or T-bone steak. Don’t forget other delights, such as grilled vegetables, portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar, tuna soaked in a teriyaki marinade, rack of lamb with mint chutney, veal chops smothered in rosemary, or a pizza cooked right on the grill!

Be creative this Father’s Day and serve a wedge of room temperature cheese on the plate right next to the steaks or other grilled foods. Which cheese do you ask? Let’s see…one goat (Saint-Maure, France), one cow (Monterey Jack, California), and one sheep (Feta, Greece) milk cheese.

These recommended cabernet sauvignon wines from California are available at most wine shops:
Clos Du Val, Napa
Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz
Hanging Vine, Central Valley
Amapola Creek, Sonoma
Gundlach-Bundschu, Sonoma
Heller Estates, Carmel Valley
Chappellet Vineyards, Napa
Black Stallion, Napa
Noble Vines 337, Lodi
HandCraft, California
Geyser Peak “Alexander Valley,” Sonoma
Artesa Winery, Napa

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written eight books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese; sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

“Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.” — Pearl S. Buck

When we think of Mother’s Day, images of multicolored flowers, greeting cards with heartfelt words and perhaps breakfast in bed come to mind. Platters of cheese, dried fruit and chilled glasses of wine usually are not thought of in the same breath.

Oh by the way, it wasn’t until May 9, 1914, that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day.

Now, my idea of a Mother’s Day celebration starts several days before, shopping for the many delicacies mom will certainly love. On the shopping list should be balsamic vinegar, dried apricots and cherries (or cranberries), unsalted walnuts, green and black seedless grapes, strawberries dipped in chocolate and wines … rosé and Champagne. We also need a bouquet of multicolored flowers or perhaps several different colored rose bushes for later planting to keep Mother’s Day all summer long.

There is an old saying, “You eat and drink with your eyes” and that’s precisely where we are headed.

Regarding cheese, purchase a wedge of an orange-colored New York State cheddar, a wedge of your favorite blue cheese, a wedge of brie (bree) from France and a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy.

Regarding rosé and sparkling wines, here are my recommendations:

2014 Jaboulet Parallèle “45,” Rhône Valley, France. Blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Syrah grapes; perfumed aroma of a fruit salad, wild berries and candy apples. Light-bodied with a zesty aftertaste.

2014 Hecht & Bannier; Côtes de Provence, France. Blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Syrah grapes. Fruity bouquet of cherries, pomegranate and herbs. Clean, crisp tasting and well balanced, with hints of watermelon. Lovely finish and aftertaste.

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2006, Champagne, France. Blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Salmon colored with a bouquet bursting of raspberries, pomegranate and oranges. Full in the mouth with citrus, wild cherry and spices. The wine is dry, yet a fruity flavor persists to the end.

N.V. Chandon “Brut”; Napa, California. An abundance of tiny bubbles as well as an aroma and flavor of ripe wheat, toasted bread and a lemon-fresh aftertaste makes this a very enjoyable wine.

Now, let’s assemble the delicacies: On a large, flat satin-white platter, carefully plate the cheese so the various colors and shapes stand out but do not touch. Around the cheeses, arrange some green and black grapes, walnuts and dried apricots or cherries. Carefully, place two chocolate-dipped strawberries in front of each piece of cheese. Ever so lightly, drizzle about 1/4 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Before we invite mom to partake, be sure there are napkins, perhaps some espresso and a camera. That’s it … and say hello to mom for me!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese, sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

With the cold weather finally leaving and the holidays just a memory, what better way is there to celebrate warmer weather than with a wine and cheese party. Some helpful hints for a successful party include:

Cheese
Choose an interesting variety of cheeses. Different milks, different countries, the cheese-making styles … all play a role in the subtle differences in each cheese’s color, texture and flavor. Your guests will appreciate the unique colors and textures of the cheeses.
Cheese has sufficient beauty to stand by itself. It shows off best on white dinner plates, plain wooden cheese boards, rustic wooden boards, marble slabs, flat wicker baskets or trays, straw mats or other natural materials.
Do not precut cheese for guests. It exposes too much surface to the air and the cheese will dry out. 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. Serve three to five different types of cheese. More than this causes confusion and leads to cheeses left untouched. Be certain to include one well-known cheese.
Allow approximately four ounces of cheese per person at cocktail parties, unless lots of other food is being served. For eight to 12 guests, have no less than three-quarters of a pound of each cheese.
Provide each cheese with its own knife or spreading utensil, especially soft cheeses. This is necessary, particularly for all blue cheeses. Use tags or flags to identify each cheese … don’t forget the country of origin.

Wine
Offer wines from the same country as the cheese or even decide on a French, Italian or Spanish theme for the festivities. Put up some decorations, play some ethnic music, and perhaps have some small nibbles in addition to the cheese. Provide your guests with small cards containing information about each cheese and matching wine, next to each being served.
Wine choices may include sparkling, dry white or red, sweet white or red, sherry, port or maybe even a pitcher of sangria, decorated with fresh lemons, oranges and several maraschino cherries.
To determine how much wine to purchase, figure on two (6-ounce) glasses of wine per person or one bottle (750-ml = 25.4 ounces) for every two guests. Always purchase one additional bottle in the event of a “bad” bottle or just so you don’t run out. If you don’t use the extra bottle, you can enjoy it when your guests leave!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine and cheese; sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at bob@hibs-usa.com.

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