Wine and Cheese

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

‘Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whisky, and a dog to eat the rare steak.’

— Johnny Carson, 1925-2005, Television Host and Comedian

Whiskey, a brown-colored distilled spirit, is made in over 50 countries. Whiskey, by definition, is an alcoholic distillate made from a fermented mash of various grains distilled at less than 190-proof. Whiskeys are distinguished by the grain used, the proof at which the mash is distilled, and the age. 

The major categories of whiskey produced globally are American Blended, Bourbon, Canadian, Corn, Irish, Japanese, Rye, Scotch, and Tennessee.

Enjoying whiskey with food

Whiskey mixes well with water, seltzer, cola, and ginger ale, and is a base for countless recipes and concoctions. Yet how many people enjoy whiskey with food? Basically, there is a general lack of knowing how to pair whiskey with food and which whiskies to use.

When looking for a whiskey to pair with food, there are many things to consider… different countries, grain blends, proof levels, and types of whiskey (blended, malt, straight), cask strength, single barrel, small batch, and so forth. Also, how long the whiskey was aged in wood, the type of wood used for aging, and “finishing” woods, which are popular among distillers. As much as 60 to 70 percent of the aroma and flavor of whiskey comes from the aging process in new, charred barrels (less for second-use barrels).

Look for similarities in the smell and taste of the whiskey and the food to be paired. As an example, most whiskey has an aroma and flavor of nuts (derived from barrel aging), so a dessert containing nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, and so forth) would be a good match.

Other aroma and flavor descriptors

Whiskies that have aromas and flavors of cocoa, caramel, maple sugar, and ginger can be enjoyed with desserts and various sauces.

Whiskies that have fruit aromas and flavors like apple, dates, figs, honey, orange, and raisins can be paired with meats and poultry containing fruit glazes.

Whiskies that have aromas and flavors of spices, such as black and white pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, are great for meat with dry rubs.

Whiskies with aromas and flavors of oak, vanilla, smoke, black coffee, and toasted nuts pair with smoked, grilled, and blackened meats, pulled pork, and smoky mushrooms. Other foods to pair with smoked elements are most smoked fish, cheese, turkey, and game, and briny oysters with a smoky-briny Scotch whisky.

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Many years ago, as a young journalist, I often heard that Beaujolais was intended to be drunk while still very young, and if over a year old, lost its appeal and charm and is best forgotten. Older journalists jokingly referred to Beaujolais Nouveau as ‘Old Veau’ once it surpassed a year of aging.

Having explored the Beaujolais wine region in France and sampled numerous “older” vintages, I can confirm that the earlier advice was inaccurate. Interestingly, some Beaujolais wines can still be enjoyed after ten years of aging. During a visit to Beaujolais, I had the chance to taste some truly spectacular wines that were approaching 15 years old.

Beaujolais wine is made from the Gamay grape, known for its light-bodied fruity character and flavors of berries (raspberry and strawberry), red cherries, candy-apples, watermelon, and others.

Yet, when the Gamay grape is grown in the northern topography on hillside properties, the wines become riper, fuller-bodied, and more complex. These wines are often aged in wooden barrels for several years, losing much of their grapey character.

Beaujolais wine is grouped into three levels depending on quantity, quality, and price. Beaujolais (also Beaujolais Nouveau), Beaujolais-Villages, and Beaujolais Cru. Beaujolais-Villages is sourced from 38 villages in the north, known for its superior quality and subsequent higher price. The crus of Beaujolais, originating from 10 specific northern villages, are intended for aging and are of the highest quality.

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My Beaujolais tasting notes are:

2019 Georges Duboeuf “Beaujolais Nouveau.” It lost some of its intense fruit because of age. Bright ruby color with a light and fruity aroma and flavor of red candy, raspberries, and cranberry, with a tart-berry aftertaste.

2021 Domaine Romy “Les Pierres Dorées” (Territory of Golden stones) Beaujolais. Cherry color with a fruity aroma and flavor of raspberries, spicy cherries, tart berries, and red currants. There are hints of black pepper and plums in the aftertaste.

2019 Prunelle de Navacelle “Beaujolais Lantignié” (Beaujolais-Villages). (Aged 12 months in oak). Floral bouquet and taste of spicy black fruits, herbs, jam, and mushrooms. Nice amount of acidity with hints of strawberries, earth, leather, and hibiscus.

2019 Stephane Aviron Moulin-à-Vent “Vieilles Vignes” Beaujolais. Ruby-colored with an impressive bouquet and taste of black cherry, boysenberry, black currants, and bittersweet chocolate. Medium-bodied with hints of wild strawberry, spices, black pepper.

2018 Louis Latour “Beaujolais-Villages.” Medium-deep color with a fruity bouquet and taste of cranberry, raspberry, and black cherry. Additional flavors of almonds, plums, and jam are balanced by crisp acidity.

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected]

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The Jazz Loft, located at 275 Christian Avenue in Stony Brook, will be offering an exclusive wine tasting event in the Loft’s Coal Bin, on Thursday, October 12 from 7 to 9:30 p.m.

The tasting, lead by Laura Landor and Tom Manuel, will feature six wines and offerings of gourmet cheeses and hors d’oeuvres that will be prepared with each wine.

The Coal Bin, affectionately refered to as the Jazz Loft’s Speakeasy, transports patrons back in time when special permission was needed to enter such an establishment (HINT: the password is Tom Manuel’s favorite cocktail) and turntables played vintage music using vinyl records on a rare BIG sound system.

The evening is limited to just 12 people, so reserve your spot early. Tickets are $125. For more information and tickets visit

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Côtes du Rhône, the largest appellation in Southern Rhône, produces red, white, and rosé wines from anywhere in the Rhône Valley, although most of the wines are from the south. The term côte refers to wines made from grapes grown on the banks of the Rhône river because côte means hill or slope in grape-growing areas.

Over 90 percent of the wines from Côtes du Rhône are red, with lesser amounts of rosé and white. Red and rosé wines are made principally from Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes. White wine is made principally from Marsanne, Roussanne, Bourboulenc, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, and Viognier grapes.

Côtes du Rhône-Villages is a superior quality wine, comprising red, white, and rosé wines from 22 southern Rhône Valley villages. Wine made in these villages may append their name to the appellation or be labeled as Côtes du Rhône-Villages if it is a blend of wines from two or more villages.

You can find many great value wines from the Côtes du Rhône for under $20.

2022 Réserve Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Blanc (Blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, Roussanne, and Picpoul grapes). A full bouquet and flavor of orange peel, peach, and pear. Clean in the mouth with a crisp-mineral character and a long aftertaste.

2021 Vidal-Fleury “Côtes du Rhône” Blanc (Blend of Viognier and Grenache Blanc grapes). Aromas of pear, tangerine, and stone fruit with flavors of melon, bitter almond, and lemon. A long, creamy aftertaste with hints of white pepper.

2021 Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône “Belleruche” (Blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes). Cherry colored with a fruity bouquet and taste of cherries, red currants, licorice, and raisins, with hints of lavender. Lively in the mouth with a pleasing jammy aftertaste.

2020 Gabriel Meffre Côtes du Rhône “Saint-Nicolas” (Blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes). Richly colored with a full bouquet of blackberries, morello cherry, and black pepper. Full flavors of mulberry, mint, and spicy jam, with a tart-berry aftertaste.

2020 Vidal-Fleury “Côtes du Rhône” Rouge (Blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan grapes). Bouquet and flavor of chocolate-cherry, raspberry, and cola. Medium-bodied with hints of mint, spice, leather, and plums. A light aftertaste of roasted nuts.

2020 Perrin Côtes du Rhône-Villages (Blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes). Dark ruby color with a bouquet and flavor of black cherries, plums, blackberry, licorice, and spicy-vanilla. There are hints of rosemary and tobacco, with a smooth finish and a tart-berry 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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected]

WALKING PATH THROUGH HISTORY Two tours of the Stony Brook Grist Mill and Stony Brook Village will be offered. Image from WMHO

Join the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) in a walking tour experience, Unwind & Uncork History: The Story of Wine & the Stony Brook Grist Mill on Tuesday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. and again on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. 

Image from WMHO

In this walking tour experience, tour-goers will “uncork” the stories of the Stony Brook Grist Mill (c. 1751), the sight of Long Island’s very first vineyard. This will include a tour of the Stony Brook Grist Mill, the scandalous story of Edward Kane, his Lakeside Wine Company, and a brief lesson on wine. 

The tour will begin at Tranquility Park (also known as T. Bayles Minuse Mill Pond Park) across from the Stony Brook Grist Mill, and will end at Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique at the Stony Brook Village Center, which gained its name from Kane’s Lakeside Wine Company.

Fee for the tour  is $25 per person and includes a bottle of authentic Catawba wine from Lake Side Emotions Wine Boutique. All participants must be 21 or older. Advance registration is required by calling 631-751-2244. For more information, visit

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Up in the northern region of Trentino-Alto Adige lies an area known for making some of Italy’s highest quality sparkling wines. It is the only “traditional method” sparkling wine region located high in the mountains, with vineyards planted at up to 3,000 feet above sea level.

The sparkling wines from the province of Trento in Trentino-Alto Adige are known as “Trentodoc,” a trademark name created in 2007. Their sparkling wines were already being made in the early 1900s by Giulio Ferrari, a student at the Imperial Royal Agricultural School of San Michele. He first started the “traditional method” production in Trento, after many study tours to France. Trentodoc sparkling wines officially received their DOC designation in 1993.

Trentodoc wines can be white or rosé and are made from any combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier grapes, and must be made by the classic metodo classico method.

Aging in the bottle varies from a minimum of 15 months for a nonvintage; 24 months for a millesimato (vintage); and a minimum of 36 months for a riserva (aged).

Currently, there are 67 Trentodoc sparkling wine producers. Below are some of my tasting notes.

NV Ferrari “Brut” (100% Chardonnay): Bright straw-yellow. A clean and refreshing aroma of crusty bread, white flowers, green apple, and pears. Medium-bodied and crispy with flavors of citrus, peach, and slightly honeyed. Clean finish and very long and pleasing aftertaste. Serve it with slightly melted Brie.

2016 Rotari “Brut Rosé” (75% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay): Aged 24 months. Salmon-colored with tiny, pin-point bubbles. A fresh aroma of cream and raspberries, with complex flavors of spicy cherry and peach. Refreshing acidity with a lingering aftertaste. A simple dish of prosciutto and melon.

NV Cesarini Sforza “Brut” (100% Chardonnay): Subtle bouquet of yellow fruit, tarragon, and freshly made biscuits. Complex flavors of golden Delicious apples, lemon sorbet, and spices. Subtle finish with an aftertaste of nuts and ginger. Fried calamari would be perfect.

NV Monfort “Brut Rosé” (Blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir): Lovely rose colored with a fragrant aroma of strawberries and brioche. Light and delicate in the mouth with hints of red apple, citrus, herbs, and spices. Very easy to drink. Serve with a medley of sautéed wild mushrooms.

NV Moser 51,151 “Brut” (100% Chardonnay): Pale-yellow with a subtle bouquet of blueberry, cherry, and lemon tart. Medium-bodied, and dry, with hints of apples and pears. Pair with chilled smoked salmon.

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].

Riesling grapes. Pixabay photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

When asked about Riesling, the average wine drinker often says, “I don’t drink Riesling because it’s too sweet. I like dry wines.” While it’s true that some Riesling wines are sweet, many more are dry or off-dry.

The confusion lies in the smell of fruit versus that of sugar in wine. Humans cannot smell sugar but can smell the fruit from the grape. So, what is often “perceived” as sugar or “sweetness” in a glass of Riesling or other wines is exceptionally pronounced fruity or floral aromas; that of tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, and pineapple, which we would assume to be very sweet.

Unfortunately, consumers have a hard time predicting how sweet a Riesling will be just by looking at the label, unless there is some type of indication as to the sugar level on the front or rear label. Terms such as late-harvest, spätlese, auslese, beerenauslese, and eiswein indicate a semisweet to sweet wine.

In 2007, a global organization called the “International Riesling Foundation (IRF)” was founded. Its members included wineries from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, South Africa, and U.S.A. Its goal was to inform consumers how dry or sweet the Riesling wines were by using a sliding scale, depicted on the rear label. Unfortunately, it was not embraced by many wineries and as of this writing, it appears the organization is defunct.

Riesling is a thick-skinned, high acid white grape variety; the predominant grape in Germany. Riesling also flourishes in France (Alsace), Australia, Austria, and the United States, as well as other parts of the world. Riesling was probably derived from a wild grapevine, Vitis vinifera silvestris, in the 1400s. It first appeared in a written document dated March 13, 1435, by Count John IV of Rüsselsheim, which reported it growing near Hochheim in the Rheingau.

The countries from the highest to the lowest acreage of Riesling grapes are Germany, the United States (Washington State, New York State, California), Australia, France, and Austria.

Riesling produces dry, semidry, sweet, and even sparkling wines and has a naturally high level of acidity, which often needs some residual sugar for balance.

Some characteristic aromas and flavors of Riesling are green apple, citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine), ginger, grapefruit, honeysuckle, lychee, mango, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, and tropical fruits.

Riesling is a great accompaniment to many foods, especially spicy hot, fried, cream and butter sauces, charcuterie, smoked meats and cheeses, sweet and sour sauces, and dishes containing ginger, soy sauce, and fish sauce.

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected]

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Warm weather means outdoor events, picnics, beaches, and, of course, plenty of chilled beer and wine. Some of the most enjoyable wines to drink during warm weather are rosés, most of which are light-bodied and off-dry, often with a “spritz” of bubbles. Because of the lightness of body and mildness of taste, most rosé wines should be served lightly chilled, not cold.

Rosé wines are usually made by keeping the skins of the red grapes in contact with the juice for a few hours until the desired color is attained. Often, rosé wines are blends of two or more red grapes, which add additional flavor. Recently, I tasted an assortment of rosé wines from around the world that are great for entertaining this summer.

2021 Castello Monaci, “Kreos” Rosé, Negroamaro, Salento, Italy. Floral bouquet with flavors of raspberries, plums, citrus, and cherries. Dry, with hints of tangerine, orange peel, and mint. Pair it with a cold chicken salad containing cilantro.

2021 “Dove Hunt Dog,” Rosé, California: (Blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Gamay grapes) Light-bodied and fragrant with a bouquet of cherries and strawberries. Fruity with citrus and red apple overtones. Great label for dog lovers.

2021 “Scott Wild,” Rosé, California: (Blend of Grenache, Merlot, and Napa Gamay {Valdiguié} grapes) Subtle aromas of citrus and summer fruit with a full flavor of red currants, watermelon, and candied cherries.

2020 Mixtrack “L’Original” Rosé, Provence, France: (Blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes) Dry and medium-bodied; drinks like a red wine; fruity and pleasantly tart. Stands up to strong cheeses and grilled meats.

2018 Villa Franciacorta Bokè “Brut Rosé,” Italy: (100% Pinot Noir) Peach-colored; elegant and refined with a light bouquet of raspberries, citrus, and cranberry. Pair it with a dish of prosciutto and melon or burrata drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.

NV Mirabella Franciacorta “Brut Rosé,” Italy: (Blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Blanc grapes) Very lively in the mouth, with a fruity bouquet with a taste of wild berries, brioche, and red currants. Serve it with smoked salmon, sliced thin.

NV Weingut Wutzl “Frizzante” Brut Rosé, Gobelsburg, Kamptal, Austria: (100% Zweigelt grapes) Salmon-colored with a delightful bouquet of pink roses and peaches. Dry, light, and delicious, with hints of berries and citrus. Perfect for a bowl of chilled watermelon cubes.

2020 Lichtenberger-González, “Muschelkalk Rosé,” Burgenland, Austria: (Blend of Blaufränkisch, Pinot Noir, and Zweigelt grapes) Bright persimmon-colored with a light floral bouquet. Dry, with a flavor of citrus, cherry, cranberry, and yellow plums.

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].


By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

The vodka martini was popularized by James Bond movies in which the super spy requested his “vodka martini” be served to him “shaken, not stirred.”

The martini, like many other cocktails’ origins, is shrouded in mystery. One theory suggests that Martinez was the original name of this popular drink, first introduced in 1860 by Professor Jerry Thomas, a bartender in San Francisco’s Occidental Hotel. It was named after nearby Martinez, a local tourist stop for travelers. 

The local citizens of Martinez were so convinced that their town was the birthplace of the Martini, they installed a brass plaque to lay claim to that fact. The plaque reads in part, “On this site in 1874, Julio Richelieu, bartender, served up the first martini when a miner came into his saloon with a fistful of nuggets and asked for something special. He was served a Martinez Special.” The drink consisted of 2/3 gin, 1/3 vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, poured over crushed ice and served with an olive.

The first Martinez recipe known in print is the 1884’s “Modern Bartender’s Guide,” by O.H. Byron, which states “same as Manhattan, only you substitute gin for whisky.” In addition, Jerry Thomas’ 1887 “Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks,” lists a recipe for the Martinez as “one dash bitters, two dashes Maraschino, one pony of Old Tom gin, one wineglass of vermouth,” shaken, strained, and garnished with a lemon slice.

At the Knickerbocker Hotel in Manhattan, in 1912, bartender Martini di Arma di Taggia reportedly served a cocktail he referred to a martini, made of equal parts of gin and dry white vermouth, to John D. Rockefeller.

Other origins of the martini cocktail include the Italian version, which assumes the name comes from Martini & Rossi Vermouth, an indisputable ingredient. The British claim the name originates with the Martini & Henry rifle (used between 1871 and 1891), known for its strong kick.

How and when the name changed from Martinez to Martini remains unclear.

Classic Martini Cocktail


2 ounces gin or vodka

Dash of dry white vermouth

Garnish: Lemon peel or green olives


Use a large stainless-steel cocktail shaker. Add plenty of ice cubes, then add the gin or vodka and a dash of vermouth. Either strain the martini into a cocktail glass or pour over ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel or green olives.

Note: If a pearl cocktail onion is substituted for the lemon peel or green olives, the drink then becomes a “Gibson.”

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

For years, chefs, critics, and food writers have been telling us that red wines need to be paired with red meats and white wines with white meats or fish. This is what I call “The One Size Fits All,” concept and doesn’t take into consideration the multitude of recipes that fall “outside the box” and don’t adhere to the old “red with red wine and white with white” rules.

Some classic recipes that include fish cooked or served in a red sauce are spaghetti with red clam sauce, bouillabaisse (and other fish stews), baccalà (dried cod) in a rich tomato sauce, and lobster fra diavolo in a spicy tomato sauce. Besides these, there are hundreds of recipes for fish cooked in a red sauce and many are great paired with red wine.

Often, it is not the type of fish that determines which wine to drink, but the type of sauce, and the herbs and spices that have been used in the dish’s preparation. Fish can be poached, boiled, broiled, grilled, blackened, crusted, and so forth. It’s all about the texture of the fish after cooking. A poached fish is a simple dish that is silky tasting but lacks texture. The same fish blackened gives it a heartier texture that can stand up to a light-bodied, dry red wine.

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A young, full-bodied, oaky, and tannic Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with beef. Yet, paired with fatty, oily, or smoked seafood, the tannins in the wine react with fish oils producing a fishy, metallic, tinny taste, and aftertaste. It would be better to serve a young, fruity, light-bodied, higher-acid, dry red wine that is low in tannin.

Some red wines that pair with fish are Pinot Noir, Barbera, Bardolino, Gamay (Beaujolais), Grignolino, Carignan, Montepulciano, and Sangiovese. These reds are also terrific with fleshier fish, such as tuna, shark, swordfish, and especially salmon. In addition, because they are in higher in acidity, oily fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and bluefish also pair well with these wines. The acid helps balance the oils in the fish, similar to why we squeeze lemon onto fish.

Besides red wines, dry, crisp rosé wines like the wines from Provence and Tavel, France, and others made from Cinsaut, Grenache, Sangiovese, and Tempranillo grapes are great with shellfish (clams, oysters, mussels), scallops, shrimp, crab, and lobster. They are also pair well with a chilled shrimp cocktail sauce or mignonette served over oysters.

Don’t always follow the rules; create your own!

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 He consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR [email protected].