Wine and Cheese

METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

When I’m out enjoying a meal, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a few cocktails, I expect to be pampered; after all, I am spending my money, right? The flip side of this expectation is when service falls short, a meal can become memorable for the wrong reasons. Here are some restaurant situations that pushed my patience to its limit. Some of them may sound familiar…

I was recently in a restaurant when the server said, “Would you like to see a menu?” “No,” I replied, “I’ll just start naming foods and you let me know if the chef can prepare them.”

Don’t hand me a menu containing five pages, then come back two minutes later and inquire if I’ve decided. And can someone please tell whoever writes food menus that not every one of us can read some fancy calligraphy or script type in a dark restaurant (even with glasses)!

How about the “auctioneer” meal delivery system: “Who gets the pork chop at this table?” Or when, after putting down the main course, the server immediately pulls out a giant pepper mill and asks, “Do you want pepper on it?” “I don’t know,” I like to reply, “I haven’t tasted it.” One time I even said, “Are you telling me the chef didn’t properly season the food in the kitchen?”

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You would think managers would notice that a particular table or chair “rocks.” Don’t sneak under the table with a package of sugar or matchbook to balance my table. Practice your mechanics on your own time. Do restaurateurs buy the tables that way? Are they cheaper?

Will someone please instruct servers how to pour water into glasses without ice cubes tumbling all over my glass, shirtsleeve, or tablecloth?

Don’t ask if everything was okay after I’ve finished my dinner; come while I’m eating. And definitely do not present the check while I’m still eating.

Why are sugar and NutraSweet left on the table from appetizer through dessert; do restaurateurs believe I might like some in my soup?

I constantly hear about the “food specials” of the day or even of the week. But about the wine specials … don’t restaurants want to sell more wine?

Why can’t servers present the wine list at the same time they present the food menu; doesn’t the restaurant want to sell wine? I’m often asked, “Would you like something to drink?” I probably do, so what do you have?

So, there you have it … I like to complain, don’t you?

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

Pixabay photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Rosé wines are made in every grape-growing region of the world from a multitude of different red grapes. There is no “true” rosé wine color … there are thousands of red grapes, and each yields a slightly or dramatically different color when fermented. Rosé wines range in color from pale orange or pink to light or even deep garnet. Tastes vary from crisp and dry, flowery, floral, and fruity, and even sweet. 

Most rosé wines are light-bodied, but some are medium-bodied with considerable flavor, tannin, and texture. Because of their lightness and mildness of taste, they can be served chilled and drunk young.

Rosé wines are usually made by allowing the skins of red grapes to come in contact with the juice for a brief time until the desired color is attained. Lesser used methods blend red and white grapes, or by blending red and white wines.

Rosé wines are great in warm or hot weather, indispensable in wine spritzers, can be served over ice, are an excellent alternative to White Zinfandel and are perfect with fresh fruits and cheese.

In today’s market, some of the best rosé wines are made in the sun-drenched region of Provence, in southern France, but other countries, especially Spain, Portugal, and Italy are making excellent rosé wines. There are many styles of rosé made in the US, especially in California, Oregon, Washington State, and New York.

Recently I tasted a few rosé wines made from different grapes and in various countries. My comments follow:

2020 Domaine Bousquet “Pinot Noir Rosé,” from Mendoza, Argentina. Made with organic grapes; it is salmon colored with a fresh, yet subtle bouquet of red berries… cranberry, raspberry, and strawberry. Flavor of peaches and a refreshingly crisp, tart-berry aftertaste.

2019 Marqués de Cáceres Rosé, Rioja, Spain. Blend of Tempranillo and Grenache grapes. Pale coral color with a bouquet of berries, peach, and licorice. Flavors of apple, citrus, and watermelon with a long aftertaste.

2020 Santi Infinito Bardolino Rosé, Veneto, Italy. Blend of Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara grapes. A floral bouquet of watermelon, citrus, and candy apple. Flavors of red currants, strawberries, and wild spicy cherries.

2018 Château Mont-Redon “Côtes du Rhône” Rosé, Rhône Valley, France. Blend of Grenache and Syrah grapes. Perfumed aroma of a fruit salad, wild berries, and melon. Light-bodied with raspberry and strawberry flavors and a zesty 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 consults and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com OR [email protected].

Pixabay photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

There are few greater aromas in the world than the smell of bacon sizzling in a frying pan. In fact, bacon’s mystical “sizzling sound” is reminiscent of the pattering of rain striking the ground.

Bacon in one form or another is made throughout the world in a multitude of forms, styles, flavors, and names. Bacon refers to cured pork from the belly, back or side of a hog. American bacon is mostly cured pork belly that’s salted, cold smoked, and cooked before eating.

Besides pork, you can find chicken, duck, and turkey bacon. We are all familiar with the salty, thin pink strips of streaky fat bacon we buy in supermarkets. But there is also Canadian bacon (back bacon), Irish bacon, rashers (British bacon), Asian bacon, and even vegan bacon. Let’s add to the list guanciale and pancetta from Italy.

Flavors of bacon include apple smoked, pepper-coated, maple syrup, honey, jalapeño, barbecued, Cajun, apple cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, dill pickle, and even chocolate!

To help guide your wine choice, the bacon being paired is American-made, smoked, regular thin cut, cooked medium to slightly crispy, leaving some fat behind for added texture and flavor.

Now, if you like to wrap your foods with bacon; scallops, filet of beef, chicken drumsticks, corn on the cob, asparagus, dates, or even hot dogs, other wines can be served with it.

Bacon, although a white meat (pork), has immense rich, chewy, and hearty flavors that are reminiscent of red meat. Bacon is the best of both worlds; it can pair with red and white wine, and even chilled rosés.

Words such as “bacon,” “bacon fat” or “smoked meats” are descriptors for certain red wines (Mourvèdre and Syrah) especially from the Rhône Valley of France. Other red wines that often display the bacon smell are Pinotage (South Africa), Schiava Grossa (Italy), and Shiraz (Australia and South Africa).

Bacon’s salt and fat components pair well with dry sparkling wines and those fruity wines (red and white) with fairly high acidity. Two often overlooked wines that pair well are chilled rosé and white Zinfandel.

Other wines that pair with bacon are (whites) Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Scheurebe, and Sylvaner. Red wines are Barbera, Beaujolais (Gamay), Lambrusco, and Pinot Noir.

For vodka lovers, there is a bacon-flavored vodka and an interesting beer from Franken, Germany known as Rauchbier, which has a smoky, bacon-like aroma and flavor.

In closing, there is no such thing as too much bacon and everything does tastes better with bacon.

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

Malbec grapes. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Originally a Bordeaux grape variety, Malbec has not only found a second home in Argentina but has become its most sought-after red wine. Malbec was brought to Argentina in 1868 by French agronomist Michel Pouget, while phylloxera, a grapevine root-eating parasite, was devastating vineyards throughout Europe. Today, Argentina has over 110,000-acres planted to Malbec grapes, much more than any country in the world.

Malbec is a thick-skinned, low acid red grape variety introduced into the Gironde district of Bordeaux, France from Cahors in the southwest, at the end of the eighteenth century by M. Malbeck, supposedly a doctor. It has been determined through DNA analysis that the Malbec grape is a cross between Prunelard and Magdeleine Noire des Charentes. Malbec is also known in France as Cot (in Cahors and the Loire Valley) and Pressac (in Saint-Émilion), along with over 15 other synonyms.

Throughout France, Malbec is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot, whereas in Argentina, the U.S. and other countries, Malbec is generally made into a “varietal wine.” Its medium-size berries and thick skins provide considerable body and tannin to wine. The wines are deeply colored with flavors of blackberries, mulberry, plums, chocolate, coffee, cinnamon, black licorice, and leather. The best come from high elevations in Uco Valley in the region of Mendoza (central western), the Salta province in the north, and Patagonia in the south.

Most Malbec are aged in oak barrels for varying amounts of time, depending on the vintage and decision of winemaker.

Malbec is great by the glass and especially during dinner. Argentinians are famous steak eaters and according to a 2018 survey, ranks third in per capita consumption behind the United States and Uruguay. Malbec is their “go-to” wine for steaks, which also pairs well with veal chops, roast duck, tomato-sauce pasta and spicy foods from India and Thailand.

Malbec has so many flavors and aromas that it’s easy to pair with various foods and cheeses. Malbec is wonderful with Asiago, Cantal, Edam, and Gouda cheese. However, it excels with its native cheese, Reggianito, which was invented by Italian immigrants who arrived in the country after World War I. They wanted to make something that would remind them of their native Parmigiano Reggiano. Reggianito is a hard and salty cow’s milk cheese suitable for grating, like Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Some brands of Malbec to look for are Achával Ferrer, Astica, Bodega Norton, Catena, Colomé, Domaine Bousquet, Doña Paula, El Esteco, Finca Flichman, Kaiken, Luigi Bosca, Michel Torino, Rutini, Salentein, Trapiche, Viñalba, Zapata, Zolo, and Zuccardi.

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 [email protected]

Photo from Pixabay

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Over the years there have been many myths and misconceptions about alcoholic beverages that have been carried from one generation to the next. Some are based on fiction, or false or mistaken beliefs that have never been debunked. 

Some popular myths are:

Myth: Prohibition (1920-1933) “prohibited” drinking alcoholic beverages.

Fact: Prohibition forbid the manufacture, sale, transportation, importation, and exportation of alcoholic beverages. It did not prohibit drinking alcoholic beverages.

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Myth: “London Dry Gin” is a dry gin made in London, England.

Fact: It is a generic name for gin lacking sweetness first made in the early 1830s. London dry gins, originally produced only in or near London, are now produced all over the world with the term having little meaning.

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Myth: Tequila is made from cactus.

Fact: Tequila is made from agave, a plant having stiff, often-spiny leaves, and prickly, needle-like thorns, resembling cactus.

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Myth: Tequila has a worm in the bottle.

Fact: The worm is not found in bottles of tequila, only in some bottles of mezcal; a marketing gimmick dating to the 1940s.

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Myth: All the whiskey in a bottle of 12-year-old Scotch whisky is 12 years old.

Fact: The age stated on the label of a bottle of Scotch whisky identifies the age of the youngest Scotch in the blend.

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Myth: The longer a whiskey ages in a bottle, the better or smoother it becomes.

Fact: Aging only takes place in wooden barrels; when removed, the product ceases to age or improve. A bottle of 15-year-old Scotch whisky purchased 10 years ago, is still 15 years old.

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Myth: The quality of whiskey can be determined by its color. The darker the color, the richer tasting the spirit.

Fact: Some whiskies are light amber or brown colored, while others have a rich mahogany color because of aging or by adding caramel coloring.

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Myth: Sour mash is a type of whiskey from Tennessee.

Fact: It is a distillers’ term for a fermentation process used to make Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey and not a type of whiskey. Whiskies made by this process are not sour.

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Myth: Bourbon whiskey can only be made in Kentucky.

Fact: Bourbon can be made anywhere in the United States and its territories.

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Myth: Martinis should be stirred, not shaken, which will bruise the vodka.

Fact: Vodka is a very stable distilled spirit and shaking it will not “bruise” 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 [email protected]

Photo from Pixabay

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Historically, liqueur is derived from the Latin word liquefacere and means to dissolve or melt, a fitting term since the process of making liqueurs involves dissolving selected ingredients in a distilled spirit. The term cordial is derived from the Latin word cor or cordis, meaning heart, and was formerly used only for those liqueurs that were thought to have a tonic or stimulating quality because of the medicinal components of their flavorings.

Liqueur and cordial are recognized globally as interchangeable terms for the same product. In the U.S. they are always mentioned together in federal and state laws and regulations. Although liqueur is generally accepted as the European name and cordial as the American, there are many exceptions. For brevity, liqueur will be used in place of the redundant term cordial.

A liqueur is an alcoholic beverage made by mixing or redistilling any type of spirits with herbs, seeds, barks, roots, plants, fruit, flowers, fruit stones, peels, juices, or other natural flavoring materials, and containing not less than 2.5 percent sugar. Most liqueurs contain large percentages (up to 35 percent) of a sweetening agent. There is no minimum or maximum alcohol level mandated by federal regulations; most liqueurs are between 34 to 60-proof, while others are as high as 100 or more proof.

All liqueurs are initially colorless; harmless artificial (and natural) colorants are added, along with sugar, before bottling.

Crème is a French term applied to liqueurs, which refers to sweetness and not to dairy creams. Supposedly, the word crème comes from crème de la crème or “the best.” Crème describes most liqueurs made from one primary flavor. Some examples are Crème de Cacao and Crème de Menthe.

Cream liqueurs are mixtures of dairy cream and whiskey, rum, brandy, or neutral spirits (mostly from Ireland and Scotland, among many countries), usually beige-colored with an alcohol content between 17 and 20 percent. These are best enjoyed chilled from the refrigerator or over ice. After opening, they should be refrigerated and consumed within six months.

Frappe
Photo from Pixabay

Liqueurs can be served at room temperature, chilled from the refrigerator or over ice. A liqueur poured over crushed or shaved ice is called a frappé. Liqueurs are also suitable as “long drinks” (with seltzer) and in cocktails and can be used in cooking. Glasses used for liqueurs should contain 4 to 6 ounces.

Most liqueurs are served after dinner because of their high sugar levels. Liqueurs are also natural digestives because they contain many bitter botanicals.

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 [email protected]

Stilton cheese. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Stilton is a world-famous blue cheese made in the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, and Nottinghamshire, in England, from pasteurized cow’s milk.

This particular blue cheese was first mentioned in print about 1727, when novelist Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) wrote about Stilton, a town famous for cheese. Interestingly, Stilton was never made in the town of Stilton, although it was sold there from the Bell Inn to coach travelers. Cooper Thornhill, the landlord of the Bell Inn, was married to the daughter of Elizabeth Scarbrow who was famous for her cheesemaking and when their daughter married Mr. Paulet of Wymondham, the cheese became known as Stilton.

The characteristic blue veins in Stilton come from the addition of Penicillium roqueforti (blue mold spores), which is added at the beginning of the cheesemaking process. After a few weeks, the cheese is pierced at random points with stainless steel needles to allow air to enter the cheese. The Penicillium roqueforti, which has been dormant, then grows and forms the blue veins.

There is a lesser-known white Stilton cheese (without mold) which is mild and semisoft with a crumbly texture. This cheese is sometimes made with the addition of fruit such as apricots, cranberries, dates, oranges, and wild blueberries.

Stilton is wheel-shaped, has a wrinkled yellow-brown exterior and a richly beautiful interior, streaked like marble, with greenish-blue veins of irregular patterns. It has a piquant, salty, and slightly nutty flavor with a pungent aftertaste.

I enjoy serving this cheese with fruit including bananas, figs, melon, oranges, pears, plums, and tangerines as well as a bowl of mixed nuts including brazil nuts, chestnuts, filberts, hazelnuts, and walnuts. 

Stilton is a great blue cheese to pair with many wines including (Reds): Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Zinfandel. (Whites): Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, and Riesling. Other wines to seek out are sweet styles of Madeira, Marsala, and Sherry. In addition, try semisweet to sweet wines including vermouth (both red and white). I also enjoy it with brandies and some fruit brandies.

And one more thing … Stilton is excellent for crumbling over salads or as a dessert cheese, served with port or other sweet wines such as Sauternes, Barsac, or Monbazillac. Be sure to let the cheese come to room temperature before enjoying.

Along with France’s Roquefort and Italy’s Gorgonzola, Stilton is reputed to be one of the world’s finest examples of blue or “blue-veined” cheeses.

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 [email protected].

Brandy. Photo from Pixabay

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Armagnac is a brandy distilled from wine and is often confused with its close cousin, Cognac. However, Armagnac’s taste is fuller and richer and is described as less “burning” and more mellow. Armagnac comes from the Gascony region in southwest France, 150 miles southeast of Bordeaux and 100 miles south of Cognac.

Armagnac has been distilled in Gascony since 1411, making it the world’s oldest brandy. In the mid-1600s the Dutch first exported it, and the aging of brandy in wooden barrels seems to have been practiced since 1730. In 1936 the Armagnac region was divided into three appellations: Haut-Armagnac, Bas-Armagnac, and Armagnac-Ténarèze. The best quality Armagnac comes from the Bas-Armagnac appellation, which produces over 55 percent of the region’s brandy.

Armagnac is produced principally from Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche, and Baco Blanc grapes. The wine is distilled to produce a colorless brandy with a powerful bouquet and flavor described as “firewater.” Approximately 95 percent of the brandy undergoes only one distillation.

Armagnac is aged in black, tannic-rich, 400-liter oak barrels from the Monlezun forest of France in the Bas-Armagnac. However, wood from Limousin, Allier, and Tronçais forests are being used because Monlezun forests have dwindled.

After aging, the brandies of different appellations and ages are blended. Following blending, the strength of the Armagnac is reduced to 40 or 43 percent alcohol by distilled water. This is followed by adding caramel for color “adjustment” if needed. Armagnac is then kept in large barrels for additional months to allow for the curing or “marrying” of the blend.

Legislation states that a vintage date on the label of a bottle of Armagnac indicates year of harvest, not year of distillation.

Label designations

• VS or three-star. Minimum three years old

• VSOP or Napoléon. Minimum four years old

• XO or Hors d’Age. Minimum 10 years old

• XO Premium. Minimum 20 years old

• Vintage. Minimum 10 years old

Taste

Depending on the type and age, Armagnac can have aromas and flavors of flowers, caramel, toffee, cinnamon, coconut, hazelnuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit (apricot, orange, peach, plum, prune, raspberry), maple syrup, roses, spices, violets, and vanilla.

Serving Armagnac

Armagnac has traditionally been regarded as an after-dinner drink, but in some countries, it is served before or with a meal. Purists prefer to enjoy the older, finer Armagnac unmixed. Armagnac should be served in short tulip-shaped glasses tall enough to allow a reasonable aroma to build, yet small enough to be cradled in one’s hand.

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 [email protected].

Photo from Pixabay

‘Beaujolais wines are deliciously fresh to the palate. They charm you with their delicacy, tenderness, and lightness.’

Curnonsky {Maurice Edmond Sailland} French writer, 1872-1956

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Beaujolais Nouveau (known as Beaujolais Primeur in France) is the “new” Beaujolais wine that has been fermented to capture the ultimate in lightness and freshness besides its intense grapy aromas and flavors.

Beaujolais is a grape-growing district below the southern part of Burgundy, between Lyon and Mâcon. It is about 35 miles long and between seven and nine miles wide. Beaujolais is both the name of the place and the wine made there and was named after the village of Beaujeu. Beaujolais is made from grapes coming from the appellations of Beaujolais and Beaujolais-Villages within the district.

Beaujolais is made from a red grape called Gamay, which produces light, fresh and fruity wines wherever it grows in the world. The wine owes its easy drinkability to a winemaking process called carbonic maceration (called whole berry fermentation). This technique preserves the fresh, fruity quality of the wine, without extracting bitter tannins from the grape.

Beginning in 1951, the official release date of Beaujolais Nouveau was November 15. However, in 1985 the release date was changed to the third Thursday in November regardless of the specific date.

This youthful wine has limited aging potential; therefore, it is enjoyed within a short time after fermentation. Nouveau is at its best when it first appears on the market. After one year it is tired and with few exceptions should be forgotten.

Beaujolais are fresh, fruity, uncomplicated, light-bodied wines. They are excellent wines for warm weather when fuller-bodied red wines may overpower. For best results serve Beaujolais Nouveau chilled at about 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beaujolais Nouveau should have the fresh, full, fruity bouquet and flavor of blackberries, candy-apple, cherries, plums, raspberries, red lollipops, strawberries, spices, violets, and an overwhelming freshness. On the palate, Beaujolais should be young, lively, and joyous.

Some cheeses to enjoy with this particular wine are Beaufort, Bel Paese, Camembert, Charolais, Cheshire, Feta, Fontina, Raclette, Tomme de Savoie, and Triple-Crèmes. Beaujolais Nouveau pairs well with salads, fried chicken, light chicken and turkey dishes, pork, artichokes, ratatouille, eggs, ham, salmon, swordfish, tuna, hamburgers (cheeseburgers), pizza, hot dogs, chestnuts, salami, picnic foods, and chocolate.

Brands of Beaujolais Nouveau worth searching for include Georges Duboeuf, Louis Jadot, Jean-Paul Thevenet, Louis Tete, Mommessin, Domaine Dupeuble, and Jean Foillard.

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 [email protected].

METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Cabernet Franc is a medium acid red grape variety grown in Bordeaux, France since at least 1784. It is often blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to make the dry wines of the Médoc, Graves, Pomerol, and Saint-Émilion. Cabernet Franc is also grown in other parts of France, especially the Loire Valley where it is blended to make the AOC wines of Bourgueil, Champigny, Chinon, Rosé d’Anjou, and Saumur.

It is grown in many other countries and used for blending or to produce a varietally-labeled wine. The quality of its wine excels in parts of Ontario, Canada, New York State, Virginia, and Washington State.

Although not confirmed it is believed that Cabernet Franc originated in the Western Pyrénées in Southwest France and parts of Northern Spain. It has been genetically linked to both Hondarribi Beltza and Morenoa grapes from the Basque Country, but parentage is not yet certain.

In 1997, DNA analysis revealed that Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon. Although Cabernet Franc has over 30 synonyms, the most known are Bouchet and Breton, which are used in France.

Wines made from Cabernet Franc grapes are lighter, softer, and more aromatic than Cabernet Sauvignon. Depending on where it is grown, some characteristic smells and tastes of Cabernet Franc wine include bell pepper, berries (blueberry, cranberry, mulberry, strawberry) black currants, black pepper, cherry, green olive, jam, and plum. Hints of basil, cinnamon, eucalyptus, herbs, licorice, mushroom, rosemary, tobacco, and spices are also present.

The wine pairs with beef including pepper steak, roast beef, and most hearty stews. Try pasta in a marinara sauce; barbecued pork loin with mushrooms; grilled tuna or other firm-fleshed fish. Also, soy and ginger-flavored Asian cuisine pairs nicely with it, especially duck or just a bowl of wild mushroom risotto.

If you like cheese, Cabernet Franc matches well with Appenzeller, Blue Cheeses, Brie, Butterkäse, Cabécou, Cantal, Chaource, Cheddar, Colby, Gruyère, Jarlsberg, Leyden, Maroilles, Sainte-Maure, and Saint-Nectaire.

Although most people who like Cabernet Franc drink the light to medium to full-bodied wines, there are other styles made. For example, white, dry rosé, and sparkling Cabernet Franc wines are made globally. Two excellent sweet dessert wines are Floc de Gascogne from the Armagnac region and Pineau des Charentes from the Cognac region of France. However, the grand prize is a bottle of Cabernet Franc Icewine, a specialty of Canada and New York State. It usually has a brilliant orange-ruby color and is ultra-sweet.

What are you drinking tonight?

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 [email protected].