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Wine and Cheese

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By Bob Lipinski

There is little in the world more alluring than a glass of red Bordeaux wine. In Bordeaux, centuries of blending mastery combined with a unique terrain and climate give birth to refinement and equilibrium of a highly enticing nature. Within the region of Bordeaux there are many districts that make red, white, rosé, sweet white and even sparkling wines.

I recently attended a tasting of the wines of Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Julien, Margaux and Sauternes with representatives from each estate pouring and discussing the wines. Here is a list of the recommended wines I tasted including some tasting notes.

Château Latour-Martillac (Pessac-Léognan): The winery makes both red and white AOC wines.

2015 Château Latour-Martillac Blanc (spectacular bouquet of melon, pear and citrus. Mouth-filling with an excellent balance and great aftertaste)

2011 and 2013 Château Latour-Martillac Blanc

2015 Château Latour-Martillac Rouge (dark cherry color; bouquet of black currants, smoke, black raspberry; tannic with a smooth finish and lingering aftertaste)

2010 Château Latour-Martillac Rouge

Château Beychevelle (Fourth Growth Saint-Julien): The winery makes only red AOC wine. On the label of Château Beychevelle is a “Nordic Ship,” with grape clusters on its sails.

2015 Château Beychevelle (dark, almost purple color; bouquet of black currants, oak, black cherries; powerful wine with plenty of tannin and a fruity aftertaste)

2005, 2009 and 2014 Château Beychevelle

2015 Amiral de Beychevelle (second label of Château Beychevelle)

Château Kirwan (Third Growth Margaux): The winery makes only red AOC wine.

2009 Château Kirwan (ruby color with an aromatic bouquet of spicy cherry, menthol and blueberry; medium-bodied, beginning to soften with a smooth refined finish)

2008, 2010 and 2015 Château Kirwan

Château Guiraud (First Growth Sauternes): The winery makes both dry and sweet AOC white wines. The wines are a blend of Sémillon and sauvignon blanc grapes.

2009 Château Guiraud (gold-amber in color; bouquet and flavor of coconut, honey, orange, pineapple, peach, apricot and spice; luscious and sweet finish …Wow! What a delicious wine)

2010 and 2015 Château Guiraud

2015 Petit Guiraud (second label of Château Guiraud)

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

‘What is the definition of a good wine? It should start and end with a smile.’ 

William Sokolin

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Zinfandel is a classic all-American grape variety, planted in virtually all of California’s grape-growing areas. It is a thin-skinned, medium-acid red grape with a mysterious past and has been grown throughout California for over 150 years. For decades it was believed that zinfandel came to the United States from Hungary in the mid-1860s. However, some 30 years earlier it was already growing in a nursery owned by William Robert Prince, now known as the Botanical Gardens in Flushing, Queens, New York.

In 1967, a U.S. Department of Agriculture plant pathologist first discovered the similarity of the Italian grape known as primitivo and zinfandel while in Bari, Italy. Italian researchers determined the primitivo grape had been grown in Apulia since the late 1700s. In 1976 a University of California scientist tested both grape varieties and determined them to be the same. That led researchers to Croatia where growers were convinced that zinfandel was the same grape variety as the local Plavac Mali. After further DNA testing it was revealed that Plavac Mali was not related to zinfandel. However, while the researchers were in Croatia, they heard stories about another indigenous grape that may in fact be the key to unlock zinfandel’s mystery.

In 2001, it was confirmed through DNA testing that zinfandel and an indigenous Croatian grape called Crljenak Kastelanski are the same. Additional research determined that Tribidrag is the oldest known Croatian name for the Crljenak Kastelanski grape variety, which appears in print as early as 1518.

George West from Massachusetts made California’s first white zinfandel at the El Pinal Winery near Stockton, California, in 1869; the first varietally labeled zinfandel was made in 1944 by the Parducci Winery; and the first rosé zinfandel was introduced in 1955 by Pedroncelli Winery. Sutter Home was the winery that defined and popularized the white zinfandel category and craze in the early 1970s.

The zinfandel grape’s history is not only fascinating but ponder this … winemakers can produce a white zinfandel, rosé zinfandel, red zinfandel, sparkling zinfandel, late-harvest zinfandel and port wine zinfandel.

A few recommended zinfandel wines I recently tasted are:

2015 Ravenswood “Dickerson,” Napa Valley

2015 Pedroncelli “Bushnell Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2014 Pedroncelli “Mother Clone,” Dry Creek

2017 Pedroncelli “Dry Rosé of Zinfandel,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Teldeschi Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Del Barba Vineyard,” Contra Costa

2015 Kunde Estate Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley

2015 Kunde Reserve Century Vines, Sonoma Valley

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

A view of the Barone Cornacchia winery with sunflowers in the foreground.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

The Barone Cornacchia winery is situated in the region of Abruzzo (known as Abruzzi in Italy) located in a mountainous area east of Latium in the south-central part of Italy off the Adriatic Sea. In this region the two most prolific and popular grape varieties are trebbiano (a white grape) and Montepulciano (a red grape).

The winery, which dates to 1577, is run by Barone Cornacchia’s son Filippo and daughter Caterina. It specializes in Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a single vineyard Le Coste wine in addition to the everyday Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and a reserve from the prestigious Colline Teramane DOCG.

I tasted some of the wines with Caterina Cornacchia on several occasions and here are my notes:

2016 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (100 percent trebbiano grapes): If you don’t like trebbiano because it’s thin and neutral tasting, well you’ve been drinking mass-produced examples. What a wine! Medium bodied with citrus notes of orange along with almonds, apple, cantaloupe, hazelnuts, melon, pears and wild flowers.

2015 Pecorino “Colli Aprutini” (100 percent pecorino grapes). No, not the cheese! Pecorino is a white grape that deserves considerably more attention. Straw colored with flavors of apples, citrus, figs, peaches, pears and tropical fruit. Quite dry, with a bitter almond aftertaste.

2016 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). Dark almost purple color with plenty of dark fruit, blackberries, black cherries, jam, anise, chestnuts and a spicy warming aftertaste. Not a mass-produced wine! Forget a bottle, buy a case!

2012 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigna Le Coste” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). This elegant “single-vineyard” wine was aged for 14 months in Slavonian oak barrels. Deep ruby color with flavors of plum, spices, black currants, cherries, and earthy overtones of mushrooms and chestnuts.

2011 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Colline Teramane” DOCG “Vizzarro” (100 percent Montepulciano grapes). The wine was aged for more than 2 years in oak barrels. Rich, dry, full bodied and powerful with concentrated fruit; flavors of jam, blackberries and black licorice; with dried leaves, vanilla and plenty of tannin to ensure longevity.

Two cheeses from Abruzzo worth searching out are scamorza and Scanno:

Scamorza, a cow’s milk cheese, similar to mozzarella is light yellow, with a rindless pear-shaped exterior and soft to semisoft texture. It is mild and slightly salty tasting and often smoked (affumicato). In southern Italian dialect, the name scamorza means “dunce.”

Scanno, a sheep’s milk cheese from the mountain village of Scanno is traditionally eaten with fresh fruit. The exterior is black with a buttery pale-yellow interior. The flavor has a mild burnt tinge to it.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Amari (plural of amaro), the Italian term for “bitters,” refers to distilled spirits containing an infusion of bittering “botanicals” such as herbs, roots or barks. Some of the many botanicals used include gentian, rhubarb, quinine, aniseed, saffron, peppermint, cloves, bitter orange and cinnamon. Bitters were originally produced to soothe and relax the stomach after meals and therefore are often referred to as “digestives.” They are also used as ingredients in some cocktails.

Aperire, a Latin word, that means to open, is the origin of the word apéritif — a beverage that usually “opens” lunch or dinner as a stimulant to the appetite. Most apéritifs have an initial sweet taste with a somewhat bitter aftertaste because of the use of quinine, a bitter compound that comes from the bark of the Cinchona tree. This slight bitterness whets the appetite and cleanses the palate.

Unfortunately, many consumers cringe at the bitter flavor of some amari, preferring sweeter beverages to run across their palates, while others look upon bitters as a “cult” or “rite of passage” beverage. There appears to be growing interest in this category, which can easily be shown by the vast number of articles and cocktails about bitters in the news.

Although Italy has the lion’s share of amari, we also find delectable offerings from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, the United States and many other countries. 

Here are some of my favorites from Italy:

Aperol (22 proof, Veneto): Luminous orange color. Made from an infusion of aromatic herbs, spices and roots, including bitter orange, gentian and rhubarb.

Averna (68 proof, Sicily): Dark brown with colalike aroma and bittersweet taste; hints of black pepper, cloves, licorice and vanilla.

Branca Menta (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark, red-brown color; bouquet and flavor of spearmint, chocolate, citrus, menthol and herbs.

Campari (48 proof, Lombardy): Ruby-red, bitter beverage; bouquet and taste of bitter orange, cherry and strawberry, with a bittersweet aftertaste.

Cynar (34 proof, Veneto): Brown color; bouquet and taste of almonds, herbs, honey and walnuts.

Fernet-Branca (80 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, extremely bitter; contains more than 40 herbs and spices.

Ramazzotti (60 proof, Lombardy): Dark brown, bittersweet; made from 33 different herbs, roots and spices.

There is no one correct way to serve amari; they are great served “neat” (room temperature), refrigerator chilled or on the rocks. Each can be served as a tall drink, filled with sparkling mineral water (or sparkling wine) and garnished with a wedge of lemon, lime or even orange. A maraschino cherry on top may provide a finishing touch.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc, 2016 (Sonoma, California): Perfumed bouquet loaded with honeysuckle, melon and stone fruit. Flavors of dill, pineapple, citrus and passion fruit. Don’t miss a bottle. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally taste and evaluate more than 100 alcoholic beverages (wine, spirits, beer and sake) per week. Some are good, some are very good to excellent, while others are not very good. During the last month I had an opportunity to taste some very interesting wines and spirits that I’d like to share with you.

Moletto Grappa di Prosecco, Italy (80 proof): Crystal clear with a delicate, refined and perfumed bouquet of pears, fennel and chamomile flowers. Surprisingly smooth with hints of ginger, orange and apples. Serve slightly chilled.

Lazzaroni Amaro Liqueur, Italy: Dark brown colored with an intense bouquet of ginger, spices, cloves, rhubarb and cola. Semisweet with flavors of peppermint, black pepper, herbs and a touch of bitterness. Great over ice or as a tall drink with some sparkling mineral water.

Laird’s Straight Applejack 1780, Scobeyville, New Jersey (86 proof): Made from an astonishing 17 pounds of apples including Winesap, Fuji, Red and Golden Delicious, McIntosh, Granny Smith and Jonathan. Amber colored with overtones of baked apples and cider. Very complex and full tasting with flavors of apples, burnt sugar, vanilla and orange peel. Warming, smooth finish and very long aftertaste. I love this straight with some ice cubes with perhaps a splash of water. Superb!

Richland Single Estate Rum, Georgia, USA: Made from pure sugarcane grown in Georgia. Amber colored with a distinctive bouquet and flavor of cinnamon, grass, vanilla, nutmeg, maple syrup and spices. Smooth with virtually no burn. Excellent rum.

Absolut Ruby Red Vodka (Sweden): I am a Scotch n’ soda drinker and generally don’t drink “clear spirits” with seltzer. Boy was I surprised when I added ice and seltzer, then gave it a stir with my swizzle stick and brought it to my nose. Powerful aromas of grapefruit abounded. I drank deeply and was rewarded with flavors of grapefruit that continued well into the second sip. Absolutely (pardon the pun) delicious!

Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé, 2017, France (blend of grenache, cinsaut and vermentino): Dry and very clean with flavors of strawberries, red cherries and plums and a lingering berry aftertaste. Perfect for summertime!

Steele Zinfandel Pacini Vineyard, 2015,  Lake County, California (aged 12 months in oak): Bouquet and flavor of spicy cherries, cranberry cola and menthol with undertones of vanilla, nutmeg and dried plums. Big mouthful of a well-made wine.

Rei Manfredi Bianco, 2017, Basilicata, Italy (blend of Müller-Thurgau and Gewürztraminer): Really perfumed with citrus overtones and flavors of litchi, jasmine and tropical fruit.

Rapitalà Piano Maltese, 2017, Sicily, Italy (blend of catarratto, grillo and chardonnay): Dry, clean and crispy with an aroma and flavor of citrus, pears, delicious apples and roasted almonds. Slightly tart with a wonderful aftertaste.

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

“A man, fallen on hard times, sold his art collection but kept his wine cellar. When asked why he did not sell his wine, he said, ‘A man can live without art, but not without culture.’” — Author Unknown

Wines are best stored at a temperature of 52 to 55˚F, which is perfect for those who have temperature-controlled cellars or perhaps live in old castles with stone foundations. However, most people live in homes or apartments that are kept at a constant 68 to 72˚F, which creates storage problems.

Find the coolest spot in your home or apartment and keep your wines there. Prefabricated wine racks are fine, providing they keep bottles in a horizontal position, so the wine will always stay in contact with the cork.

If you purchase red wines that need aging and you don’t have a perfect wine cellar, these wines will mature at a slightly faster rate at warm temperatures. For example, if the recommended maturity of a red wine is 10 years, keeping it at warmer temperatures will advance the maturity date by maybe a year or so at most.

Most red wines are best enjoyed within four to seven years after the vintage date, while white wines within three years after vintage date. The exception are full-bodied, tannic red wines (including port), which will benefit from aging.

Wine’s longevity can be attributed to many factors, among them higher acidity, high alcohol, carbon dioxide, concentrated fruit, sugar (residual) and tannin, which is an antioxidant. 

For the proper storage and aging of wines:

•Ideal storage temperature is 52 to 55°F; no light; 55 to 65 percent humidity; no vibrations. Avoid kitchen, above the refrigerator or garage storage, which can be quite hot.

•Store bottles with corks horizontal to keep the cork wet. Avoid upside down storage, which may lead to leaking corks. Upright storage of “still” wines results in dried corks.

•Storing champagne and sparkling wine upright will keep it fresher and lasting longer.

•An empty corrugated cardboard wine or liquor box turned on its side makes a handy “wine rack.” Drainage tiles and concrete blocks are also ideal.

•Sparkling wines and champagne should be consumed soon after purchasing. The exception are the vintage-dated bottlings, which should be consumed within 10 years of the vintage date.

My aging rules are simple; I’d rather open a bottle of a young wine and say, “It tastes good now but will be better in ‘X’ years” rather than opening a bottle of wine aged for many years and say, “It was probably good several years ago, but now it’s over-the-hill!”

Bob Lipinski is the author of 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, spirits and food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR bkjm@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

‘No, Agnes, a Bordeaux is not a house of ill repute.’ 

— George Bain 1920–2006, Canadian author, “Champagne is for Breakfast,” 1972

At a fabulous private wine event, I had the opportunity of tasting wines from three classic Bordeaux wineries dating back to 1982. The wineries were Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste, Château Branaire-Ducru, and Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte. Leading the sit-down discussion were representatives from each of the Bordeaux estates. My tasting notes of some of the wines are below.

Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste (Pauillac; fifth growth—1855 Classification)

Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc.

2009: Dark red color with a complex bouquet of fruits, black currant, cedar, spices, licorice. Youthful.

2006: Bouquet of black currant liqueur with hints of cedar, black tea. Still tannic.

2005: Garnet-color with hints of cherries, black currants, spices and wet stone. Still quite youthful.

2000: Brick-color; bouquet of cherries, mint, licorice, and plums. Still quite flavorful and fruity.

Château Branaire-Ducru (Saint-Julien; fourth growth—1855 Classification) 

Produces only red wine from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Wines are aged in oak barrels for 16 to 20 months.

2011: Dark color with a bouquet of cedar, sweet cherries, chocolate, and spices. Some tannin to lose. Overall quite young.

2010: Closed, tight nose; heaps of fruit, well-balanced, tannin and plenty of cherries.

2008: Perfumed bouquet, violets, dried red fruits, well-balanced, still tannic, some black currants.

2005: Bouquet loaded with brown baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), wonderfully structured, softening. Still youthful.

1989: Perfumed bouquet of roses, cherries and violets. Medium-full bodied and elegant but thinning out. Drink by 2020.

1982: Brick-color; certain sweetness of fruit; soft, elegant with some tannin, hint of tea and orange peel. Drink by 2020. 

Château Smith-Haut-Lafitte (Martillac, Graves)

Red wines are made from a grape blend that varies by vintage; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. Red wines are aged in oak barrels for about 18 months.

2010 ‘Blanc’: (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Bouquet and flavor of coconut, marzipan, citrus, peach, mango and ripe melons. 10 months in oak.

2012 ‘Blanc’: (Blend of 90% Sauvignon Blanc, 5% Sauvignon Gris, 5% Sémillon grapes) Flavors of peach, apricot and citrus, with hints of caramel and star anise. 10 months in oak.

2012 ‘Rouge’: Dark colored with huge mouthful of black tea, black currants, spices and black cherries.

2009 ‘Rouge’: Full-flavored with red fruits abounding; spices, perfumed bouquet, cinnamon and raspberries.

2000 ‘Rouge’: Notes of sweet cherries, cranberry, licorice, and black raspberry with light tannins. Elegant.

1998 ‘Rouge’: Maroon-colored with an earthy bouquet; black currants, dark fruits, sweet cherries, leather, mushrooms. Velvety and very long aftertaste. Wow!

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 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 bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

I love reading quotes, especially funny, historical, inspirational or those from well-known individuals. With that in mind I’d like to share 20 of my favorite wine quotes that may stimulate you to reach for a bottle of wine.

1. “Life is too short to drink bad wine.” (Author unknown)

2. “A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826, French politician and writer)

3. “The fine wine leaves you with something pleasant. The ordinary wine just leaves.” (Maynard A. Amerine, 1911–1998, professor emeritus, University of California, Davis)

4. “Wine is one of the agreeable and essential ingredients of life.” (Julia Child, 1912–2004, American master chef)

5. “Wine is the intellectual part of a meal. Meats are merely the material part.” (Alexander Dumas, 1802–1870, French novelist)

6. “Where there is no wine, there is no love.” (Euripides 480–406 B.C., Greek playwright)

7. “If food is the body of good living, wine is its soul.” (Clifton Fadiman, 1904–1999, American writer and editor)

8. “I love everything that’s old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.” (Oliver Goldsmith, 1728–1774, novelist; “She Stoops to Conquer,” 1773)

9. “Wine is a substance that is wonderfully appropriate to man, in health as well as in sickness, if it be administered at the right time, and in proper quantities, according to the individual constitution.” (Hippocrates, 460–377 B.C., Greek physician)

10. “Wine is like sex in that few men will admit not knowing all about it.” (Hugh Johnson, 1939–, British author)

11. “What is better than to sit at the end of the day and drink wine with friends, or substitutes for friends?” (James Joyce, 1882–1941, Irish novelist and poet)

12. “When it comes to wine, I tell people to throw away the vintage charts and to invest in a corkscrew. The best way to learn about wine is in the drinking.” (Alexis Lichine, 1913–1989, wine writer and winery owner)

13. “I feast on wine and bread, and feasts they are.” (Michelangelo, 1475–1564, Italian sculptor, painter, architect and poet)

14. “The metamorphosis of grape juice to wine is a natural process, but the creation of truly fine wines requires balanced contributions of tradition, expertise, and innovation.” (Angelo Papagni, Papagni Vineyards, Madera, California)

15. “Wine can be considered with good reason as the most healthful and most hygienic of all beverages.” (Louis Pasteur, 1822–1895, biologist and chemist)

16. “There are two reasons for drinking wine: one is when you are thirsty, to cure it; the other is when you are not thirsty, to prevent it. Prevention is always better than cure.” (Thomas Love Peacock, 1785–1866, English novelist and poet; “Melincourt,” 1817)

17. “Wine makes every meal an occasion, every table more elegant, every day more civilized.” (André L. Simon, 1877–1970, French wine writer)

18. “You Americans have the loveliest wines in the world, you know, but you don’t realize it. You call them ‘domestic’ and that’s enough to start trouble anywhere.” (H.G. Wells, 1866–1946, British novelist, historian and social reformer)

19. “Our Italian winery workers were full of red wine and garlic. They never caught anything. The germs couldn’t get close enough to them.” (Karl L. Wente, Wente Vineyards, California)

20. ‘Wine is sunlight, held together by water.’ (Galileo Galilei)

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 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 bkjm@hotmail.com.

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Adding grated cheese to a dish of pasta is something we do automatically, sometimes without regard to the type of cheese we’re using or which is suggested in the recipe. Not all grated cheeses are alike. These hard-grating cheeses belong to a group known as grana (in Italian), which means they have a flaky, grainy or granular texture; sharp, well-aged and hard to very hard. These cheeses are suitable for grating when they begin to get old.

Grana cheeses can be made from cow, sheep or even goat’s milk. Although most are made in Italy, some are produced in Greece, Switzerland, Argentina and the United States.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the most popular grana cheeses, but keep in mind, “all Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses are grana, but not all grana cheeses are Parmigiano-Reggiano.” Italian hard cheeses were once referred to as “cacio duro.” The word “Grana” is legally protected by Grana Padano Protected Designation of Origin, such that only Grana Padano can use the term to sell its produce in EU countries.

Some examples of grana cheeses are Asiago, Bagozzo, Crotonese, Grana Padano, Granone Lodigiano, Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino, Piave, Vacchino Romano (Italy), Kefalotyri (Greece), Sapsago and Sbrinz (Switzerland), Reggianito (Argentina) and dry Jack (U.S.).

Grana cheeses will keep for several months if wrapped in damp cheesecloth and then enclosed in aluminum foil and refrigerated. You can purchase grana cheese either previously grated or in chunk form.

If purchasing already grated, plan on using it within 60 days since it will begin to dry out. When using chunks, grate only the cheese you need at one time and refrigerate the unused portion. Hard cheeses may be frozen for up to eight weeks but should then be used for grating, shredding or cooking.

In addition to sprinkling on pasta or popcorn, many grana cheeses are great enjoyed by the chunk with a piece of crusty bread and glass of wine (red or white) or even whiskey. Let the cheese come to room temperature for optimum enjoyment.

My wine recommendations are:

•2016 Standing Stone Riesling (Finger Lakes, NY)

•2016 Gundlach-Bundschu “dry” Gewürztraminer (Sonoma, CA)

•2016 Four Graces “Pinot Gris” (Willamette, OR)

•2016 Shooting Star “Chardonnay” (Lake County, CA)

•2013 Podere Ruggeri Corsini “Barbera Armujan” (Piedmont, Italy)

•2011 La Spinona “Barolo Sorì Gepin” (Piedmont, Italy)

•2015 Poggio al Sole “Chianti Classico” (Tuscany, Italy)

My whiskey recommendations are:

•Wild Turkey Rare Breed Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey Barrel Proof

•Jim Beam Black Label Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey

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 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 bkjm@hotmail.com.

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

There has been much praise directed at the 2016 vintage in Burgundy, France, from many well-known and respected writers and critics. The vintage was definitely quality over quantity due to lower yields in the vineyards because of frost.

One thing that stood out was the abundance of spicy berries and fruit in both the whites and especially the reds. The wines are fresh, fruity and well balanced with good (not high) levels of acidity and less oak aging. The red wines have abundant flavors of raspberry, strawberry, cherry, spices, citrus and stone fruits. White wines are aromatic, clean, crisp and loaded with peach, pears, hints of oak, butter and citrus.

Although both the reds and whites can be cellared for several years, they are delicious right now. Of the many wines I sampled there were quite a few that really stood out and are worth finding. There were too many fine wines to comment on each.

Whites

•J.J. Vincent NV Crémant de Bourgogne (100 percent chardonnay)

•J.J. Vincent Bourgogne Blanc

J.J. Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé Marie-Antoinette

•Jacques Prieur Meursault Clos de Mazeray

Reds

•Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, Petits Cazetiers

Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru, La Combe aux Moines

•Domaine Dominique Gallois Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru

•Domaine Jacques-Frederic Mugnier Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru, Clos de la Maréchale

•Domaine Lignier-Michelot Bourgogne Red (pinot noir)

•Domaine Lignier-Michelot Chambolle-Musigny Vieilles Vignes

•Domaine Lignier-Michelot Morey-Saint-Denis en la Rue de Vergy

•Domaine Lignier-Michelot Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru Les Faconnières

•Domaine Lignier-Michelot Clos de la Roche Grand Cru

•Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin Symphonie

•Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Thorey

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru Aux Murgers

•Jacques Prieur Corton-Bressandes Grand Cru

Jacques Prieur Clos de Vougeot Grand Cru

•Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin Clos du Château

•Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Lavaux St-Jacques

•Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru

•Armand Rousseau Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru

•Domaine Parent Corton Les Renardes Grand Cru

Cheese accompaniment

Although many people love eating cheese while drinking wine, it’s a rarity to find any cheese at serious wine tastings or judgings. The alkalinity of the cheese neutralizes the acidity of the wine, obscuring its sensory characteristics. Several of my favorite French cheeses from Burgundy may be a little difficult to find, but the search is worth it.

Charolais: A soft texture, cylindrical or flat drum-shaped (with concave sides) goat’s (or goat and cow’s) milk cheese made in Charolles, Burgundy. It is generally eaten fresh; however, it does age well.

Lormes: A semisoft cheese with a bluish-gray exterior and a delicate and pleasant taste, which is made in Burgundy. It is made into truncated cones when made from goat’s milk and flat disks when made from cow’s milk.

Soumaintrain: A semisoft, wheel-shaped, cow’s milk cheese made in Burgundy. Soumaintrain has a shiny-orange exterior, a yellow interior and is quite pungent smelling with a creamy taste.

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 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 bkjm@hotmail.com.

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