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Red Wine

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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 Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirit, and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Barbecues are great and so is watching baseball on Father’s Day. However, as the day heats up, I enjoy a libation that brings me peace of mind, helps me relax and makes MY day special. I’m talking about some California chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, followed by a glass of cognac after dinner.

“The land itself chooses the crop that suits it best.” Hugh Johnson

I recently had the opportunity to taste a few wines from the J. Lohr Winery in Monterey, California. Jerry “J” Lohr started the winery back in 1974 after a meticulous search of the Arroyo Seco region, an ideal site for grapes due to its long growing season. In 1986, Jerry purchased property in Paso Robles, a favored area for big full-bodied red wines.

The J. Lohr Winery has grown to approximately 3,700 acres of vineyards, where he grows chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, petite sirah, merlot, sauvignon blanc, syrah, riesling, and Valdiguié grapes, among others. Below are my tasting notes:

2013 Arroyo Vista Chardonnay; Arroyo Seco, California:
Light golden colored with a bouquet full of baked apples, spices, butter and toasted hazelnuts. A creamy mouthfeel, along with vanilla, banana, coconut and citrus. Pairs well with fish or a chicken breast rolled in crushed pistachios.

2012 Fog’s Reach Pinot Noir; Arroyo Seco, California:
Fairly dark colored with hints of smoke, cocoa, black cherry and black raspberries. Medium bodied with a flavor of cola, dark fruit, jam and mint. Real easy to drink while grilling. Serve with farfalle and some grilled vegetables and hot peppers.

2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles, California:
Deep, dark colored with a bouquet of cassis, black tea, violets and plums. Full-bodied, powerful with flavors of black raspberry, coffee and cocoa powder. It is tannic, but nevertheless, easy going down. The lingering aftertaste begs for another glass (or bottle). I served this beauty with a porterhouse steak, brushed with extra-virgin olive (after grilling).

The lingering aftertaste of the 2013 Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon begs for another glass (or bottle).

2013 Tower Road, Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, California:
Inky black colored with a spicy bouquet and flavor of black pepper, blackberry, black cherry, plums and raisins. Full-bodied and intense, with overtones of herbs, tobacco and violets; a powerful aftertaste. I don’t assign numbers or points to a wine, but if I did, this Petite Sirah would easily score 90+ points. It’s that good!

Now, after those wonderful wines and perhaps dessert, a glass of cognac is certainly in order. Prunier VSOP Cognac from the “Grande Champagne” region of Cognac is amber colored with a delicate bouquet and flavor of orange, rose petals and pear. Very smooth finish and a lingering aftertaste. Prunier 20-year-old Cognac is amber colored with a captivating bouquet of prunes, raisins, cedar and orange blossoms. Warming in the mouth and is ultra-smooth; no burn! You will hear the violins play with a glass of Prunier.

Say hello to dad for me!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or  boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

With winter a faint memory and spring rapidly disappearing, the “dog days of summer” will soon be upon us. It’s party and barbecue time for all summer’s holidays and special events. Now even though I generally drink more white and rosé wines in hot weather, there’s nothing like a chilled glass of chardonnay or a large, bowl-shaped glass filled with a full-bodied cabernet sauvignon.

When pairing food to wine remember that wine is constant, and you can’t change what’s inside the bottle. But you can change the ingredients, texture or flavor of the finished dish to complement the wine. With an oaky, buttery, somewhat toasty chardonnay, I generally look for foods that share some of the same taste components. Examples might be fish cooked in or served with some drawn butter like lobster, steamers, scallops and crab; or fish that has seen time on the grill or in the broiler and its top is nicely toasted or browned. Salmon is another winner because of the rich, buttery texture, which pairs nicely with chardonnay. Fish contains oil and wines (white and red) with good acidity cut the fat in seafood. Think for a moment why you add lemon juice to fish — to balance the oils. (If you said because it lessens the fishy smell or taste, you are eating old fish.)

Tip: If you really want to serve a full-bodied red wine with a medium-well or well-done piece of meat, immediately brush the meat with extra-virgin olive oil when the cooking is complete and spoon over diced tomatoes that have been marinated with extra-virgin olive oil and lightly anointed with lemon juice.

Full-bodied red wines like cabernet sauvignon are a natural for heavier, full cuts of meat, like steak, ribs, veal or pork chops. However, a full-bodied red wine served outdoors during an afternoon barbecue in August tastes horrible when its internal temperature reaches 85°F. Warm red wine feels heavy in the mouth. The heat accentuates the alcohol and makes the wine appear flabby and makes the acidity seem to disappear. So, simply chill the wine for around 30 minutes before serving or place into a chiller (minus the ice) and place on the picnic table.

When pairing red wine to meat, it’s important to know how your guests like their meat cooked. We know that rare is juicy with succulent flavors, and at the other end of the spectrum, well-done is dry with little or no juice. A young, dry full-bodied red wine (cabernet sauvignon), which is often loaded with tannins (causes your mouth to pucker), dries your mouth and is probably not suited to meats cooked longer, but is perfect for juicy rarer cooked meats. So with well-done meats choose a fruitier red (pinot noir) and with rarer cooked meats choose a fuller-bodied red (cabernet sauvignon).

Barbecue is 25% inspiration and 75% perspiration.

That’s it for now; just remember to save a seat for me.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written 10 books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know about Vodka, Gin, Rum & Tequila” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

“A waltz and a glass of wine invite an encore.”
— Johann Strauss, 1804–1849

Although archeological evidence dates wine making and grape growing in Austria back thousands of years, its wines have always been overshadowed by those of Germany. Austria’s four major grape-growing regions are Burgenland, Niederösterreich, Vienna and Styria — each producing dry red and white wines, as well as semisweet and sweet whites, and even some very fine sparkling wines.

The major grape varieties are (whites) Grüner Veltliner, Müller-Thurgau, Welschriesling, Riesling and Weissburgunder (pinot blanc). Red grape varieties include Zweigelt, Blaufränkisch and Blauer Portugieser.

At a recent press event, I had the opportunity to taste the wines of Stadlmann, a winery that dates back to 1780, located in Thermenregion, Lower Austria. My tasting notes follow:

2014 Gruner Veltliner: A dry white wine with a spicy, fruity aroma with a flavor of green apples, citrus and grapefruit.

2014 Zierfandler: A dry white wine with a fruity aroma of oranges and peaches, with hints of citrus, honey and spices.

2014 Rotgipfler “Anninger”: A dry white wine with a subtle aroma of apples and pears; light-bodied with a fruit flavor of apricots and peaches.

2013 Rotgipfler “Tagelsteiner”: A dry white wine with an intense aroma of apricots and melon. Flavors of mint, green olive and pears abound.

2013 Pinot Noir Classic: Crimson-colored with a distinctive bouquet and taste of blueberry, cranberry and wild cherries. Dry and soft in the mouth with flavors of cola, dried fruits, plums and spices.

While Austria produces many cheeses, most, unfortunately are not imported. I have three cheeses below, which can be found (not in a supermarket) in cheese shops that will easily pair with any of the above wines. 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.

Mondseer: A soft, disk-shaped, cow’s milk cheese with a yellow-tan exterior and yellow interior with few irregular holes. It has a very pungent and robust flavor, and, when sold in small wooden boxes, it is known as Mondseer Schachtelkäse. It was first made in Salzburg in 1830 and named after the monastery of Mondsee.

Saint Michael: A wheel-shaped, cow’s milk cheese with a brown rind and no internal holes. It is smooth-textured with a pleasant, but mild flavor.

Tiroler Graukäse: A most unusual cow’s milk cheese made from sour-milk curds that are washed with Penicillium mold during the ripening period. Square-shaped with a gray exterior and a very strong, pungent odor and very sharp, piquant, tangy, sour taste. Graukäse translated means “gray cheese.”

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “101: Everything You Need to Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or boblipinski2009@hotmail.com.

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