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White Wine

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.