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Bob Lipinski

Prosecco. Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Prosecco is both the name of a grape and a sparkling wine that originates in Italy’s northeast regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto.

Prosecco is known locally in these regions as Glera. The Prosecco grape is thin-skinned with high acid and is used to make dry to sweet; still (non-effervescent) to sparkling wines. Besides Prosecco, there are other white grapes (and one red … Pinot Noir) that can be used to make a white or rosé sparkling Prosecco.

Most white Prosecco wine is released as non-vintage; the wine may be released with a vintage date if the wine contains a minimum 85 percent of the stated year’s harvest. It can be labeled Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, or Demisec. Styles of Prosecco are frizzante, spumante, and rosé. Prosecco Rosé is made from Prosecco and Pinot Noir grapes and must be vintage-dated.

There are several other higher-quality (also higher prices) sparkling Prosecco DOCG wines made. They are labeled Asolo Prosecco; Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco; and two specialty, limited-produced wines labeled Rive and Prosecco Superiore di Cartizze.

Prosecco wine is straw yellow with a fresh fruity aroma and flavor of acacia, almonds, green and red apples, apricots, bread dough, citrus (lemon, lime), fennel, ginger, hazelnut, kiwi, licorice, melon, orange, peaches, pears, tropical fruit, spices, and wild flowers.

Because of its fruit and higher level of acidity, it is a very versatile sparkling wine. Some suggested food pairings might be salmon and other salads with a touch of sweetness; fried calamari; pork with fruit sauces; chilled summer soups; prosciutto and melon; spicy curries; soy and ginger infused sauces; or even your favorite cheeseburger!

Some recommended cheeses to pair with this sparkling wine are Asiago, Brie, Camembert, Emmentaler, Fontina, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, Gruyère, Manchego, Monterey Jack, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, and Ricotta.

Prosecco makes a refreshing cocktail. Two favorites are Aperol & Prosecco and Campari & Prosecco. Finally, if you are a fan of grappa, several distillers in Italy make a Prosecco Grappa.

Bellini Cocktail

The much sought-after Bellini cocktail was created in 1948 by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar (opened in 1931) in Venice, Italy, to commemorate the Venetian Painter Giovanni Bellini (1430-1516).

YIELD: Serves 6

INGREDIENTS:

3 medium-sized ripened peaches

Dash of raspberry purée

1 chilled bottle of Prosecco

DIRECTIONS:

Peel and cut peaches into cubes, then put into a blender along with the raspberry purée. Pour the pulp into a carafe, then add the entire bottle of Prosecco. Stir and serve.

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

Bob Lipinski

I love reading quotes, especially historical, and inspirational  ones from well-known individuals, or just plain funny ones. Here are 15 of my favorite whiskey quotes that may stimulate you to reach for a bottle of your favorite brand.

“Happiness is having a rare steak, a bottle of whiskey, and a dog to eat the rare steak.” (Johnny Carson, 1925-2005, American television host and comedian)

“The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable, we had to add whiskey. By diligent effort, I learnt to like it.” (Sir Winston Churchill, 1874-1965, Prime Minister of Great Britain)

“I wish to live to 150 years old, but the day I die, I wish it to be with a cigarette in one hand and a glass of whiskey in the other.” (Ava Gardner, 1922-1990, American actress)

“Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough.” (Mark Twain, 1835-1910, American humorist and novelist)

“Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say, I’m thirsty, not dirty.” (Joe E. Lewis, 1902-1971, American actor and comedian)

“I’m on a whiskey diet. I’ve lost three days already.” (Tommy Cooper, 1921-1984, British prop comedian and magician)

“Set up another case bartender! The best thing for a case of nerves is a case of Scotch.” (W.C. Fields, 1880-1946, American comic and actor)

“For a bad hangover take the juice of two quarts of whiskey.” (Eddie Condon, 1905-1973, jazz guitarist)

“I love to sing, and I love to drink scotch. Most people would rather hear me drink Scotch.” (George Burns 1896-1996, U.S. actor and comedian)

“I never should have switched from Scotch to Martinis.” (Humphrey Bogart, 1899-1957, American film actor)

“I now drink healthy … Scotch and carrot juice. You get drunk as hell … but you can still see good.” (Dean Martin, 1917-1995, American singer and actor)

“It is true that whiskey improves with age. The older I get, the more I like it.” (Ronnie Corbett, 1930-2016, Scottish actor and comedian)

“My family was a bunch of drunks. When I was six, I came up missing; they put my picture on a bottle of Scotch.” (Rodney Dangerfield, 1921-2004, American comedian and actor)

“My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey.” (William Faulkner, 1897-1962, American author)

“I always take Scotch whiskey at night as a preventive of a toothache. I have never had the toothache; and what is more, I never intend to have it.” (Mark Twain, 1835–1910, American humorist and novelist)

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].

Sangria is a fruit punch-esque cocktail that’s best enjoyed on a sunny, lazy summer afternoon. METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

When it’s hot outside I’m looking for a beverage that’s light, refreshing, chillable, perhaps somewhat acidic to cleanse my palate, but most of all … it contains alcohol.

I enjoy wine and during hot weather I have found ways to convert that glass of wine into a “wine cooler.” Here are some of my summer coolers:

A spritzer (popular in the 1970s) is a tall drink made with a base of wine (white, red or rosé) and filled with a carbonated mixer (seltzer, tonic water, ginger ale) and sometimes garnished with lemon, lime, orange, a sprig of mint, or even a cherry. Spritzers are served on ice.

One of my favorite wine coolers is a kir. It’s an apéritif drink made with crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) and dry white wine, named after the late mayor of the city of Dijon, France, Canon Félix Kir (1876-1968). Kir was the favorite drink of the mayor from the 1940s until his death in 1968.

Originally, kir was made by mixing Aligoté, a highly acidic white wine from Burgundy with a tablespoon of crème de cassis, served chilled. Nowadays, just about any white wine used as Aligoté is difficult to find.

To make a kir, pour 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) into 5 to 6 ounces of a dry white wine, add ice and stir.

There are many variations of this drink: Kir Royale, along with Cardinal (cassis and Beaujolais), Kir Communist (cassis and red wine), and Kir Imperial (raspberry liqueur instead of cassis and champagne).

An all-time favorite that is making a big comeback is Sangría, originally from Spain. Now you can buy premade versions or make your own, which is more fun and allows for your creativity.

Sangria is a refreshing apéritif made from a mixture of wine (red, white, or rosé), slices of citrus fruits (lemon, lime, and orange), sugar, and sometimes soda water. To make Sangria, take a bottle of a dry red, white, or rosé wine. Add one lemon, lime, orange, and apple (cored) cut into quarters, then squeezed. To this add 1/4 cup superfine sugar. Mix all ingredients (including the quartered fruit) and refrigerate for several hours. Add ice before serving and top with a Maraschino cherry.

One of my favorite ways to keep ice cubes from diluting the wine is to freeze left-over wine (red or white) in ice cube trays, then seal in plastic bags so you will always have a few cubes on hand for wine coolers. (You can even mix colors.)

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].

Pinot Grigio grapes come in a range of skin colors. METRO photo

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Pinot Grigio is the number one selling white wine from Italy and has been for many years. This fruity, easy-to-drink, dry to off-dry wine is made throughout the world with the bulk coming from Northern Italy.

The popular wine has been grown in Italy since the beginning of the nineteenth century, when it was first introduced in Piedmont. Cultivation of the grape moved eastwards over the decades and now finds its home in the Tre Venezie, a term used to describe the three contiguous northeastern regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Veneto, and Trentino-Alto Adige. The Tre Venezie offers a combination of geography and climate well suited to producing high-quality grapes.

Pinot Grigio is a thin-skinned, medium acid white grape. The grape’s skin color ranges from a bluish gray to a delicate pink. During winemaking, the grapes are crushed releasing a clear juice, which is fermented minus the skins, which would otherwise add some color.

In some wine shops you can find examples of Pinot Grigio made with limited skin-contact, which are copper-colored. These wines have a greater depth of color and flavor. The Italian term for this copper-colored wine is ramato. Besides Pinot Grigio, another white wine that is made from pinkish-colored grapes is Gewürztraminer.

Grapes, like people, sometimes have alternate names; for example, Bill, Billy, Will, or Willie instead of William. Depending on their place of origin, grapes can have several or even sometimes over 100 different synonyms (names). An example is Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris; same grape but different names depending on where it is grown. Other synonyms for Pinot Grigio are Grauer Burgunder and Ruländer (Austria and Germany).

This particular wine is pale straw-yellow in color, with light green reflections. It has a delicate aroma and flavor of apples, citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine), figs, kiwi, lychee, melon, nectarine, passion fruit, pears, watercress, and white peach. Its aftertaste is of almonds and hazelnuts.

Pinot Grigio can be paired with many types of cheese. Some of my favorites from Italy are Asiago, Bagozzo, Bel Paese, Burrata, Burrini, Fontina, Montasio, Mozzarella, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Pecorino, Robiola Piemonte, and Scamorza.

There are hundreds of brands of Pinot Grigio available in the U.S. coming from dozens of countries. Some recommended Italian Pinot Grigio brands are Alois Lageder, Eugenio Collavini, Dorigo, Barone Fini, Ronco delle Betulle, Ca’ Montini, Càvit, Ecco Domani, Elena Walch, Livio Felluga, Marco Felluga, Maso Canali, Jermann, J. Hofstätter, Santa Margherita, Santi, and Zonin.

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

Bob Lipinski

Gin is a neutral spirit like vodka, which has been flavored with a range of botanicals, then redistilled.

Botanicals are parts of plants and include roots, stems, barks, leaves, flowers, berries, fruit, beans, seeds, pits, stems, skins, and so on. There are well over 100 botanicals that distillers worldwide use, and most are a proprietary mixture of a few or many.

There are a few botanicals, however, that most gin distillers use (juniper the most prevalent) and have for decades. They are lemon, orange, coriander, cassia bark, cardamom, angelica, cinnamon, orris root, and licorice.

Technically, gin which is made from a base of alcohol and flavored with botanicals could be called a liqueur if it were sweetened.

Most gin is not aged, and U.S. federal regulations do not permit age claims, distillation date, or vintage date. Gin is stored in containers of stainless steel, porcelain, concrete, glass, paraffin, or any other neutral material, although some distillers are barrel aging gin for varying amounts of time.

Gin is made in many countries especially England, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Scotland, and the United States.

Some popular types of gin are:

London Dry Gin. A generic name for gin lacking sweetness. Although originally produced only in or near London in the early 1830s, are now produced all over the world with the term having little meaning. London Dry Gin is also known as British Gin, English Gin, and Dry Gin.

Plymouth Gin. A gin produced by the Coates firm of Plymouth, England, which was founded in 1793. Plymouth gin was originally associated with the British Royal Navy, who invented this gin as a tolerable way of drinking bitters (quinine), which helped control intestinal disorders. They often mixed it with lime juice; hence the nickname limey, which is frequently applied to the British.

Genever. A gin produced primarily in Holland from a low-proof, distilled malt spirit, which is redistilled with juniper and other botanicals resulting in a heavier body than the dry gins produced in the United States and England.

Sloe Gin. It is not a gin, but a red liqueur made from sloe (little blackberries berries) that grow in bluish-black bunches on blackthorn trees, which gives it a rather tart plum flavor.

Some brands of gin to try are Aviation, Beefeater, Bols, Bombay, Bull Dog, Citadelle, Gordon’s, Hendrick’s, Junipero, Plymouth, Tanqueray, The Botanist, and Vincent Van Gogh.

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]

Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Vermouth is a wine that has been infused with various herbs and spices, sweetened with sugar and fortified with a slight amount of alcohol. For a red vermouth, caramel coloring is added to the wine.

The name “vermouth” is from the German word wermut for wormwood (a bitter herb), an integral ingredient in the drink that has been used over its history. When the Latin countries emerged as the chief producers of this type of wine in the eighteenth century, the word wermut was written as vermouth.

How Vermouth Is Made

There are many types of vermouths, so the exact production method varies from brand to brand. The wine is lightly fortified with brandy or other distilled spirits. Each winery adds a proprietary mixture of dry ingredients, consisting of aromatic herbs, roots, and barks.

 After the wine is fortified and aromatized, the vermouth is sweetened with either cane sugar or caramelized sugar, depending on the style. Wineries let the mixture rest for various amounts of time, before it is filtered and bottled. The above process has similarities to making tea. In vermouth-making, the herbs are “infused” or steeped in alcohol instead of boiling water.

Some ingredients used (there are over 100) are allspice, angelica, angostura, anise, bitter almond, bitter orange, celery, chamomile, cinnamon, clove, coriander, fennel, gentian, ginger, marjoram, myrtle, nutmeg, peach, quinine, rhubarb, rosemary, saffron, sage, sandalwood, savory, thyme, and vanilla.

Vermouth contains between 15 and 21 percent alcohol. It can be red, white, or rosé in color, and be dry, semidry, or sweet. The sweet vermouths, mostly red and a few whites, contain about 10 to 15 percent sugar. The dry vermouths contain less than 4 percent sugar.

Many countries make vermouth or a vermouth-type wine. The leading countries in production are Italy, France, U.S. Spain, Germany, Argentina, United Kingdom, and Australia.

Serving

When a bottle of vermouth (red or white, dry or sweet) is opened, it should be refrigerated and consumed within six weeks. After six weeks, the sweet and especially the dry vermouth takes on a darker color and has a somewhat musty, “off” odor.

Vermouth can be enjoyed chilled “straight up;” over ice with a twist of lemon or orange; or even with a splash of seltzer water. A drink called a “blonde and a redhead” is made with equal parts of dry white and sweet red vermouth. The wine is so versatile that it can be used in marinades, sauces, broths, and by most cooking methods, from steaming to grilling.

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 METRO

By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Parmigiano-Reggiano is one of the most popular cheeses on the planet, with a rich history that dates to 1200, recorded on a notarized deed in Genoa. Parmigiano is made in the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Modena, in the northeast region of Emilia-Romagna, famous for its Balsamic Vinegar, Mortadella, and Prosciutto di Parma.

Although this “king of Italian cheese” is often referred to as “parmesan,” in 2008 the European Court of Justice ruled that the word “Parmesan” could not be used as a generic term to include Parmigiano-Reggiano. However, parmesan continues to be used as a substitute name for Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Parmigiano is made from cow’s milk and the leftover whey is fed to the pigs used for Prosciutto di Parma. After a minimum of 12 months of aging, cheesemakers determine if the wheel-shaped cheese should be sold or continued to be aged for 24, 36, 40 months or longer. The rind of these gigantic wheels of cheese is embossed all over in a repeating pattern with its name in pin dots and the identification number of the production dairy, the year and month of production.

Parmigiano has a straw-yellow exterior, an inedible golden yellow rind with an oily sheen and a straw-yellow interior comprised of tiny, pale-gold crystals. The cheese is hard, granular, and flaky depending on its age. The longer the cheese ages, the more “crunch” to enjoy. It has a complex, mellow flavor — nutty, buttery, and salty in taste — with a  granular smoothness and intense flavor. Parmigiano can be eaten in bite-size chunks when young. When old it is suitable for grating. While other cheeses get sharper as they age, Parmigiano-Reggiano becomes mellower.

When buying the cheese, examine it carefully. It should be a uniform moist but pale amber color with no signs of dryness, white patches or a white rim next to the rind.

To enjoy Parmigiano, take a thin velvety slice of Prosciutto di Parma and put a small piece of Parmigiano in the middle. Drizzle a couple of drops of Balsamic vinegar, then wrap the prosciutto around the cheese and pop it into your mouth.

Parmigiano should be stored in a tight layer of plastic wrap. Every time you use the cheese, use a fresh piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Some recommended Italian wines to serve with Parmigiano include Red: Amarone della Valpolicella, Barbera, Bardolino, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Lambrusco, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Nebbiolo, Primitivo, Sangiovese, Valpolicella; White: Cortese, Fiano, Friulano, Orvieto, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Verdicchio; Other: dry Marsala, Moscato d’Asti, and Vin Santo.

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]

Stock photo

By Bob Lipinski

Earlier in the month I attended a special “preview” tasting of the 2018 Burgundies imported by Frederick Wildman. Both the reds and whites were showing very well with considerable fruit, acidity, structure, balance and drinkability. Many of the bigger wines (mostly reds) will be bottled in May, June or perhaps later in the year.

Overall, Chablis (chardonnay) had considerable body, zippy acidity and tropical fruit flavors. The whites from further south in the Côte d’Or were crisp, densely flavorful with considerable fruit and not oaky. The reds (pinot noir) were deeply colored, supple with good body and displayed red berries (raspberry) and plenty of acidity.

There were over two dozen wineries offering a taste of their prized 2018 wines and I tasted through most of them. However, space does not permit me to list all the wines tasted with comprehensive notes. So, under the name of the winery are the wines I tasted and highly recommend:

Domaine Christian Moreau

Chablis 1er Cru “Vaillons” 

Chablis “Grand Cru Vaudésir” 

J.J. Vincent Selections

Crémant de Bourgogne

Pouilly-Fuissé “Marie-Antoinette”

Château Fuissé

Pouilly-Fuissé “Tête de Cuvée”

Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Combettes”

Pouilly-Fuissé “Les Brûlés”

Domaine Jacques-Frédéric Mugnier

Nuits-Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Clos de 

   la Maréchale”

Domaine Lignier-Michelot

Bourgogne Rouge

Chambolle-Musigny “Vieilles Vignes”

Morey-Saint-Denis “En la Rue de Vergy”

Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Les Chenevery”

Morey-Saint-Denis 1er Cru “Les Faconnières”

Clos de la Roche “Grand Cru”

Domaine Sylvain Cathiard

Vosne-Romanée

Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Aux Malconsorts”

Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Les Murgers”

Nuits Saint-Georges 1er Cru “Aux Thorey”

Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet

Chambolle-Musigny “Les Echézeaux”

Gevrey-Chambertin “Symphonie”

Gevrey-Chambertin “Mes Favorites Vieilles Vignes”

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Les Champeaux”

Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Les Rouges du Dessus”

Chambertin Clos de Bèze “Grand Cru”

Domaine du Comte Armand

Auxey-Duresses

Volnay

Volnay 1er Cru “Frémiets”

Domaine Jacques Prieur

Clos Vougeot “Grand Cru”

Olivier Leflaive Frères

Bourgogne Blanc “Les Sétilles”

Montagny 1er Cru “Bonneveaux”

Domaine Humbert Frères

Fixin “Vieilles Vignes”

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux Saint-Jacques”

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Poissenot”

Charmes Chambertin “Grand Cru”

Domaine Armand Rousseau

Gevrey-Chambertin

Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru “Lavaux 

   Saint-Jacques”

Clos de la Roche “Grand Cru”

Chambertin “Grand Cru”

Stéphane Aviron

Beaujolais-Villages

Domaine Dominique Gruhier

Crémant de Bourgogne “Extra Brut”

Bourgogne Epineuil “Côte de Grisey”

Although the wines are showing well in their youth, many of them will improve with several or more years in your cellar.

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]

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

Champagne is a region in France about 90 miles northeast of Paris. Sparkling wines made there using the méthode champenoise (Champagne method) are called Champagne. 

Sparkling wines made in other regions of France regardless of how good they are cannot be called Champagne; they are known as crémant and vin mousseux (sparkling wine).

I attended a Wine Media Guild seminar/tasting of French Champagne (prestige cuvées) in December and here are my tasting notes.

NV G.H. Mumm “Blanc de Blancs” Hints of celery, bread dough and brioche. Crisp and clean.

NV Valentin Leflaive “Blanc de Blancs (extra brut)” Very dry with nuances of green apple, lime, violets and toasted bread.

Collet Collecion Privée” 2006 Hints of toasted bread, biscuits; full-flavored and delicious.

Boizel “Joyau de France” 2000 Fruity with flavors of peach and hazelnut; good finish.

Perrier-Jouët “Belle Epoque” 2012 Pear and green apple along with a nutty aftertaste.

Alfred Gratien “Cuvée Paradis” 2009 Hints of cider, red apple and baked bread. Well-balanced.

NV Delamotte “Blanc de Blancs” Light and crisp with citrus and chamomile flavors. Aftertaste of pears.

Piper-Heidsieck “Rare” 2006 Green apple, citrus and nuts. Lingering aftertaste.

Henriot “Cuvée Hemera” 2005 Darker color with overtones of brioche, pear and apple tart.

Palmer & Co. “Brut” (served in magnum) 2003 Granny Smith apple, citrus, curry and full of flavor.

Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” 2007 Crisp, clean tasting with considerable bubble; plenty of fruit.

Dom Ruinart “Blanc de Blancs” (served in magnum) 2004 Elegant with full chardonnay flavor; crisp, with a lasting finish.

Moët & Chandon “Dom Pérignon Rosé” 2006 Delicate and floral bouquet with overtones of black currants; persistent finish.

NV Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siècle” Honeyed, nutty aromas with hints of almonds and freshly baked brioche.

Charles Heidsieck “Blanc des Millènaires” 2004 Very dry; lively with citrus and brioche. Creamy aftertaste.

Pol Roger “Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill” 2006 Overtones of citrus, toasted brioche, pear and licorice.

Louis Roederer “Cristal” 2008 Citrusy bouquet with overtones of waffles, red apple and pears.

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 2008 Crisp, medium-bodied, elegant, floral and honeyed bouquet.

Bollinger “Grande Année” 2008 Apple tart, brioche, butter and nutty overtones. Long aftertaste.

NV Krug “Grande Cuvée 168th edition” Toasted bread, full-bodied, ginger, spices and a long and pleasing 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 [email protected]

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By Bob Lipinski

Bob Lipinski

With just over 275 wineries within seven grape-growing areas, Virginia ranks fifth in the nation for wine grape production.

The first recorded wine production in the United States took place in Virginia soon after the British established a colony there in 1607. However, it wasn’t until 1807, when Thomas Jefferson planted grapes of European descent on his Monticello estate that the industry began. Sadly, Jefferson’s experiment failed because of rot and phylloxera (small root insects).

For a while Virginia was the most important grape-growing state, but Prohibition annihilated the flourishing industry and only in the beginning of the 1970s did local producers make wine again.

At a private tasting/seminar there were over 20 wines to taste and evaluate. Overall, the wines very good with a few excellent ones. Space prevents me from providing tasting notes on all the wines. Here are some highlights:

2017 Barboursville Vineyards Vermentino Reserve: Aroma and flavor of apples, pear, citrus and hazelnuts. Tastes likes it’s from Liguria, Italy.

2010 Barboursville Vineyards Octagon: A blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot; dark colored with a powerful, concentrated flavor of blackberry, black currants and cedar; hints of vanilla and smoke.

2017 Linden Vineyards Boisseau Viognier: Light-bodied with a full bouquet of melon, lime, lychee and bitter orange.

2017 Glen Manor Vineyards Petit Manseng: The perfume of orange abounds along with melon, tropical fruit, nutmeg and citrus.

2018 Williamsburg Winery Petit Manseng: Tropical notes of papaya, pineapple and mango with an aftertaste of cinnamon and peaches.

2017 Veritas Vineyard Cabernet Franc Reserve: Enormous wine with black fruit, blueberry, bittersweet chocolate and smoky oak.

2016 Michael Shaps Wineworks Tannat: Flavor of blackberry, black raspberry, cherry, espresso and brown spices. A huge wine that will age another decade.

2016 King Family Vineyards Mountain Plains: A blend of merlot, cabernet franc and, petit verdot; full flavor of dark berries, fig, prunes, blueberry and toasted almonds.

2015 Boxwood Estate Winery Reserve: A blend of cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot; closed nose but rich flavors of blackberry, black tea, licorice, spicy vanilla and hazelnuts.

2012 Paradise Spring Vineyards PVT (blend of petit verdot, tannat): I enjoy the flavor of petit verdot and tannat but have never tasted them blended together. Almost black-colored and tannic with flavors of black cherry, blueberry, mint, plums and sage. Worth searching out!

2017 Early Mountain Vineyards Eluvium: A blend of merlot, petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon; elegant, perfumed, dark fruit, plums, jam, anise and smoky oak.

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]