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Wine

By Rita J. Egan

Wine lovers can enjoy a fun night out as well as a bit of history at the Huntington Historical Society’s 25th annual Evening of Wine Under the Stars on Friday, Sept. 18.

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano, executive director at the society, said the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year will honor the 100th anniversary of Huntington Hospital.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your hometown a little bit more,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.

In addition to a selection of fine wines available for tasting, Blind Bat Brewery will be offering its craft beers. The historical society has also planned a night filled with gourmet food tasting from neighboring restaurants including Black & Blue, The Culinary Studio, Christopher’s Crew, Cinque Terre, IMC, Old Fields, Reinwalds and XO. With business owners from the local area participating, Fortunato-Napolitano said, “It’s always fun to try the new restaurants. It gives you a great idea of where you want to go and get dinner.”

The event, which takes place outside on the property of the Dr. Daniel W. Kissam House at 434 Park Avenue, will give guests the opportunity to view the historical society’s museum. The director said, in the early part of the evening, attendees will be able to tour the house, which on an everyday basis is only open by appointment.

Maria DeLeo, public relations manager at the society, said there will be plenty of opportunities to dance under the stars, too. Local band The Modern Age will be on hand, and the society is planning to include a floor so partygoers won’t have to dance in the grass.

Rounding off the night will be a raffle with an array of items including restaurant and spa baskets and a silent auction that includes an item donated by Disney World.

The public relations manager said in prior years guests have traveled from out east, Nassau County and Queens, but the majority of the wine and gourmet food tasters are locals interested in preserving the history of the community.

“We’ve had people in the past who are new to Huntington so they want to meet other Huntonians. So it’s a great place for people to meet other people from the neighborhood,” DeLeo said.

Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 18. For more information, contact the Huntington Historical Society at 631-427-7045 or visit its website at www.huntingtonhistoricalsociety.org. Tickets are $70 for society members, $85 for nonmembers and $100 at the door.

 

Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano. Photo from HHS
Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano. Photo from HHS

Meet the new director!
This year’s Evening of Wine Under the Stars will be the first one Claudia Fortunato-Napolitano will be attending as the society’s executive director.

Fortunato-Napolitano stepped into her new position on June 1 of this year. The Huntington Station native is no stranger to the society having worked there as the special events coordinator from 2009 to 2010 and then taking on the role of director of operations from 2011 to 2012. She left the historical society for a couple of years to work for the Seamen’s Church Institute and in the past has worked as a former assistant historian for the town of Huntington and at The Long Island Children’s Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and the Huntington Rural Cemetery.

The director said growing up surrounded by Long Island’s rich history she cultivated an early appreciation for the subject. Her interest in history as well as preservation was solidified when she attended a summer program at the University of Oxford in England. She explained that while studying abroad after learning about history in the classroom, she was able to go outside the university and actually experience it. Something she recognized as being capable of doing in her own hometown.

Fortunato-Napolitano said she enjoys playing a part in educating residents about their community, and Huntington is a great example of how most people don’t even realize how much history is practically right in their own backyards. The director said there have been many times while leading the society’s pub crawl that many participants were surprised to learn historical facts about buildings that they passed every day.

The new executive director said she looks forward to increasing awareness of the town’s history, creating new exhibits and programs and having the historical society return as a mainstay in the community.

“My overall vision is to have the Society become the kind of integral part of the community that it was in the first half of the 20th century. Just to really increase awareness, to offer new public programs and try to get more people involved,” Fortunato-Napolitano said.  

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By Bob Lipinski

Quotes are like recipes for our happiness. We enjoy their wit and often cite them; they inspire us, guide us, and often make us laugh. And sometimes, we need them just to keep our sanity. Below are 20 of my favorite cheese quotes.

■ “A cheese may disappoint. It may be dull, it may be naive, it may be oversophisticated. Yet it remains cheese, milk’s leap toward immortality.” (Clifton Fadiman, American writer and editor; New Yorker book reviewer)

■ “A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.” (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826; French politician and writer)

■ “Age is not important unless you’re a cheese.” (Helen Hayes)

■ “Apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.” (Old English rhyme)

■ “Cheese complements a good meal and supplements a bad one.” (E. Briffault, French gastronome)

■ “Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.” (M. F. K. Fisher, “How to Cook a Wolf,” 1942)

■ “For lovers of wine or beer, cheese would have had to be invented had it not grown up with these two drinks.” (Edward and Lorna Bunyard, “The Epicure’s Companion”)

■ “How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?” (Charles de Gaulle, 1890–1970, president of France, 1962 speech)

■ “I don’t want the cheese. I just want to get out of the trap.” (Spanish proverb)

■ “If I had a son of marriageable age, I should say to him, Beware of young women who love neither wine nor truffles nor cheese nor music.” (Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette “Colette,” 1873–1954, French novelist, “Paysages et Portraits”)

■ “Never commit yourself to a cheese without having first examined it.” (Thomas Sterns “T. S.” Eliot, 1885–1956, British poet and critic)

■ “Once we hit forty, women only have about four taste buds left: one for vodka, one for wine, one for cheese, and one for chocolate.” (Gina Barreca)

■ “The clever cat eats cheese and breathes down rat holes with baited breath.” (W. C. Fields, American comic and actor, 1880–1946)

■ “The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” (Stephen Wright)

■ “The only way to learn about cheese is to eat it.” (Ernest Oldmeadow, English gastronome)

■ “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.” (Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874–1936; English poet)

■ “There were cheeses from the North, there were cheeses from the South. There were dozens of one which melted in the mouth.” (T. A. Layton)

■ “What is a harp but an oversized cheese slicer with cultural pretensions?” (Denis Norden, English comedy writer)

■ “Wine and cheese are ageless companions, like aspirin and aches, or June and moon, or good people and noble ventures.” (M. F. K. Fisher, introduction, “Vin et Fromage”)

■ “You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.” (Anthony Bourdain)

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “101: Everything You Need To Know About Whiskey” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food; and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at www.boblipinski.com or [email protected]

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“I made a mental note to watch which bottle became empty soonest, sometimes a more telling evaluation system than any other.” — Gerald Asher, “On Wine,” 1982

By Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally sample and evaluate more than 50 alcoholic beverages — wine, spirits, beer, and sake — per week. And no, I don’t need an assistant. Some are good, some are very good to excellent; while others are, how do I say it, not very good. I prefer to talk about the beverage rather than assign it an arbitrary number rating.

For many, the wines of France evoke pictures of lush vineyards filled with ripe grapes, huge fermentation tanks and rows of barrels filled with some of the world’s finest wines. France’s reputation as a great wine-producing country is solidly based on centuries of winemaking experience and the country’s climate and soil, which are ideal for growing the world’s great wine grapes. France is divided into six major wine-producing regions. They are Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, the Loire Valley, and the Rhône Valley.

Here are my French wine picks:

2010 Frédéric Mallo Riesling, Réserve Spéciale, Alsace, France. Pale yellow color with a fresh aroma of stone fruit, citrus, pears, and red apples. Medium-bodied with a good balance and flavors of apples, cantaloupe and peach nectar. Serve it chilled with softshell crabs, raw clams or oysters, or just a dish of spaghetti with white clam sauce.

2010 Domaine Charles Baur Riesling, Grand Cru Brand, Alsace, France. Bright golden-colored with a lush, full bouquet of honey, apricot jam, dried fruit and nectarines. Full in the mouth with citrus, Granny Smith apples, and some minerality. I would pair with smoked salmon, smoked cheddar and Gouda, or some honey-cured ham.

2014 Grange des Dames, Ventoux, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, carignan, and cinsaut grapes. Salmon-colored with an explosive, fruity, spicy bouquet; quite floral. Light-bodied, grapy and somewhat citrusy. Flavors of Red Delicious apple with an aftertaste of red cherries. Serve it with lobster, crab, or shrimp salad. It would be perfect with paella or jambalaya.

2013 Château d’Aquéria, Tavel, Rhône, France. A blend of grenache, syrah, cinsaut, and clairette grapes. Rich, deep rosé color, from brief skin contact with the grape juice. Red berry aromas, including cranberry and raspberry. Medium-bodied with flavors of musk melon, peaches, and red cherries. It drinks like a red wine, so don’t over-chill. Match this wine with grilled sausages, eggplant, and zucchini. Wonderful for light, red-sauced foods.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine, spirits, and food, in addition to sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]

Musican Bryan Gallo performs for winery-goers. Photo by Chris Mellides

By Chris Mellides

Beyond a gravel-strewn parking lot, a weathervane perched atop a rustic old potato barn stands tall and shines in the warmth of the weekend sun at Clovis Point winery and vineyard.

The neatly trimmed lawn below is home to a number of red tables and chairs that are occupied by families whose children play on the green grass beside the expansive grapevines that stretch for yards.

With the sunlight gleaming on high, I wipe the sweat from my forehead and casually pull down the brim of my hat to allow my eyes to adjust to the brightness of the outdoors. A gray oak barrel once used to age red wine now serves as a makeshift table and a temporary resting place for my camera equipment.

I pull a barstool close to the aged barrel and wait patiently to meet Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager, for a chat and a tour of the facilities.

Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager. Photo by Chris Mellides
Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager. Photo by Chris Mellides

Bruer makes his way from the tasting room nestled inside the 150-year-old building. As I stand to face him, he greets me with a smile and a firm handshake. He asks me if I’m a wine enthusiast, but to his surprise, I tell him that I’d much rather prefer a stout beer or a frothy IPA.

“Sit down, sit down. Be relaxed, it’s a winery,” says Bruer. “Do you want some wine?”

“No, thank you, but I appreciate the offer.”

“Are you sure?” he asks. “I’ve got a nice, light wine that’s good to introduce beer drinkers to.”

After some more convincing I finally accept, and Bruer arranges for a glass of white wine to be brought to the table. At first sip, the effervescent blend tastes crisp with clean fruity notes, rounding out an overall full-bodied flavor.

“The wine that you’re having there is fermented and then it goes to the bottle and it rests a bit; it’s kind of a seasonal wine and we do it every year,” says Bruer. “It’s crisp and it’s light and it’s chardonnay, and if I didn’t tell you it was chardonnay you probably wouldn’t know it.”

A high-ranking vineyard and winery located on the North Fork of Long Island, Clovis Point first opened its tasting room in 2007. Much of the walls and beams of the tasting room and surrounding property remain unchanged since the 1920s and were preserved during the eventual repurposing of the structure.

Long Island’s long, warm summers and cooling breezes permeating from the neighboring Long Island Sound and Atlantic Ocean make for the perfect maritime climate. And the glacial soils unique to the East End have allowed vineyards like Clovis Point and the other 56 Long Island winemakers to be the largest producers of European grapes in the Northeast, according to the Official Website of the Long Island Wine Council, www.liwines.com.

“It can be a difficult balance for the musician and I do respect that, because I know it’s not just a matter of walking in the door and putting a guitar over your shoulder…these guys practice and
put time into it and that’s an important part for people to realize.” — Kelly Bruer, Clovis Point’s general manager

While the well-versed general manager of Clovis Point has held many titles in the past, including working as a journalist, a sous chef and a commercial lender, he admits to having always been drawn to the North Fork and its vineyards.

“I grew up here on the North Fork, and when I was 12 years old I started working at vineyards over the course of a few summers,” said Bruer. “I never thought I’d come back, but it’s exciting. I wake up in the morning and come to work, and I work in a beautiful vineyard.”

When he took the job as general manager in January of 2011, Bruer was thrust into taking on multiple roles, including a position in operations and in event planning.

Sharing similar responsibilities is Alicia Ekeler, the tasting room director at Lieb Cellars, another North Fork winery with a tasting room located on the estate. Like Bruer, the duties she undertakes can be tiring, but Ekeler believes those duties are rife with their own rewards.

“Three days of my workweek are spent planning all the tasting room events, managing the ongoing music schedule, staffing and scheduling,” says Ekeler. “On the weekends, I am in the tasting room making sure everything is operating smoothly and that our guests are leaving happy.”

And when her guests leave happy, Ekeler is happy. She says that she’s been in this role for just more than a year, but that she’s been with Lieb Cellars for almost two.

The crowd lines up at the counter of Clovis Point winery and vineyard. Photo by Chris Mellides
The crowd lines up at the counter of Clovis Point winery and vineyard. Photo by Chris Mellides

Something else that Bruer and Ekeler share  outside of their study of the culinary arts is their enthusiasm towards working with local musicians and affording them the opportunity to perform at their respective vineyards.

When selecting artists to feature at Clovis Point’s tasting room events, Bruer says that while originality and playing skill are important, it is vital for scheduled performers to understand that their live music should only add to the warm atmosphere rather than become the main focus of the day’s event.

“Explaining the wine and introducing people to the wine, that’s the more important thing,” says Bruer. “It can be a difficult balance for the musician and I do respect that, because I know it’s not just a matter of walking in the door and putting a guitar over your shoulder … these guys practice and put time into it and that’s an important part for people to realize.”

No stranger to Long Island’s winery scene, local musician Bryan Gallo shuffles into Clovis Point’s tasting room patio and examines his playing space. While sipping wine from a tulip-shaped glass he turns to face his audience.

Donned in black horn-rimmed glasses and a plaid button-down shirt, Gallo cheerily greets the crowd at Clovis Point. The Suffolk County native has performed at the vineyard several times over the last three years, so for many of the vineyard’s guests, this wasn’t the first time they’ve been introduced to Gallo and his music.
After tuning his jet-black acoustic guitar, he begins to play original song selections from his 2014 full-length album titled “Party Guest.” Gallo’s playing style combines alternative country-rock with wistful pop music elements.

As he strums his guitar, he’ll occasionally pepper in a bluesy harmonica to accent some of his songs. A sheet music stand faces Gallo and just beyond it are CD copies of his first major album release, along with a mailing list and tip jar that rest on the floor by his feet.

Friends and family joined together to share in Sunday’s performance at Clovis Point. Among those in attendance were vineyard club member and Setauket resident Steven Krinsky.

“We’ve been members of Clovis Point for the past seven or eight years, and we love the wine, we love the owners, and we love the staff. It’s a perfect trifecta,” says Krinsky. “The live music just adds another dimension [and] I think Bryan’s music goes perfectly with the wine and the whole experience of being at a vineyard.”

“It’s a very artistic feel in that you have the chance to spread your wings and do what you need to do and the people at the wineries are incredibly responsive to it.” — Bryan Gallo, Musician

At Lieb Cellars, live performances were first introduced in the winter of 2012 with the launching of the Friday Night Music Series. The series sticks to a rotating schedule featuring local musicians preforming a range of diverse genres from folk rock to opera sung in duet, according to Ekeler.

“We launched it as something for locals to do in the off-season; a chance for them to enjoy the space when it is not bursting at the seams as it tends to be in the high season,” says Ekeler. “We really try to explore different genres so that there is something for everyone every month, and it does not get repetitive.”

Like Clovis Point, Lieb Cellars receives many requests from musicians who are interested in performing at the winery, but those that are booked to play are often chosen because their playing styles are quieter and more relaxed to better suit the tasting room atmosphere.

For active musicians like Gallo, wineries are the perfect venue to learn how to engage with different kinds of audiences, while maintaining authenticity as an artist and receiving deserved compensation for live performances.

“I’ll always reach out to the wineries. Whether the [guests] plan on me being here or not, I feel like it’s always a really good synergistic relationship,” says Gallo. “People have picked up albums of mine because they’re interested, and they ask me ‘Well, when are you playing at Clovis again, or when are you playing at any of the wineries again?’ There’s a relationship there that just works.”

The unique relationship struck between musicians and the vineyards that embrace them is one that remains strong, and one that Gallo believes will endure well into the future.

“We don’t live in a small place, [Long Island] is a hundred plus miles back and forth from either end, so you can play a show out east and go out west the next day and you’re covering brand new ground,” says Gallo. “But out here, it’s just good. It’s a very artistic feel in that you have the chance to spread your wings and do what you need to do and the people at the wineries are incredibly responsive to it.”

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By Bob Lipinski

A storybook region dotted with picturesque villages in France, Alsace occupies a narrow strip of land between Strasbourg and Mulhouse. It is no more than four miles wide and about 40 miles long, with a total area of approximately 40,000 acres. It is nestled between the Vosges Mountains and the Rhine River, just east of Champagne and Burgundy. Alsace is divided into two sections — the Bas-Rhin in the north and Haut-Rhin in the south.

Alsace produces one-fifth of all of France’s white wines entitled to the AOC designation. Because it is located so far north, there is generally insufficient sunshine for the red grapes to ripen fully. Therefore, better than 90 percent of all wines are white.

Some of the better-known wines of Alsace are Riesling, gewürztraminer, pinot blanc, sylvaner, pinot noir, pinot gris, muscat à petit grains, chasselas, and Klevener de Heiligenstein. The wines range from very dry, through semisweet and even sweet. There is also a fabulous dry sparkling wine called crémant d’Alsace.

I recently attended an Alsatian wine press event featuring the wines of Hugel et Fils and Domaine François Baur, which are perfect for hot summertime weather. Below are the wines that I tasted and highly recommend:

2013 Hugel Gentil, a blend of primarily gewürztraminer paired with varying amounts of pinot gris, Riesling, muscat and sylvaner.
2013 Hugel Riesling.
2008 Hugel Riesling Jubilee.
2012 Hugel Gewürztraminer.
2013 Hugel Pinot Blanc Cuvée Les Amours.
NV Domaine François Baur Crémant d’Alsace, made from a blend of Riesling, pinot blanc, pinot gris, and chardonnay grapes, while pinot noir is used for the rosé version.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Blanc Herrenweg.
2012 Domaine François Baur Riesling Herrenweg.
2007 Domaine François Baur Gewürztraminer Grand Cru– Brand.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Gris Herrenweg.
2010 Domaine François Baur Gewürztraminer Herrenweg.
2013 Domaine François Baur Pinot Noir Schlittweg.

When searching for cheeses to pair with these wines stay with the soft, mild style, and definitely not too salty. Two cheeses that I like from Alsace that are worth searching for are:

Lingot d’Or (lan-GOH dohr) A brick-shaped, cow’s milk cheese, which is quite similar to Munster.

Munster (MUHN-stuhr). A semisoft to firm, cow’s milk cheese with a somewhat edible, ivory or orange to red exterior; creamy white to buttery yellow interior with small holes; cylindrical, rectangular, and wheel-shaped.

It has a pungent smell sometimes of mushrooms; complex, strong and tangy flavor; slightly salty, nutty taste; sometimes flavored with aniseed, caraway, or cumin seeds. The word Munster means monastery and it was the Benedictine monks, who came from Ireland, in the Munster valley of the Vosges Mountains who introduced cheese-making to this area as early as the seventh century.

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple,” available on Amazon.com. He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese, sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]

Vineyard would be Huntington Town’s first

The property is located on Norwood Avenue. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

A Northport property is one step closer to becoming Huntington Town’s very first winery.

The Huntington Town Planning Board granted the owner of a Norwood Avenue parcel conditional site plan approval on June 17 to grow grapes on the approximately 10-acre property. The board also added a condition requiring a second site plan approval if the owners want to build a winery.

Landowner Frederick Giachetti already has approval to subdivide the residentially-zoned property into seven homes, but decided to take the property down a different direction, his attorney Anthony Guardino told the board at last week’s meeting. Plans for a winery still have to be finalized, but the applicant said he wants to go forward with planting eight acres of sterile corn crop to nourish the soil for the planting of vines later on.

Planning Board Chairman Paul Mandelik prompted Guardino to talk about the vineyard plans. Guardino said Steve Mudd, a North Fork viticulturist, who is credited with pioneering Long Island’s wine industry, would be a partner in the business. Guardino also tossed around some ideas for the winery.

The applicant said he envisions a small tasting room on the property, along with wine-making on premises that would occur in a building that would need to be built. Patrons would be able to come in, taste the wine and be able to purchase it, and the business would also sell local honey, and perhaps some cheeses, jams and jelly. He likened it to Whisper Vineyards on Edgewood Avenue in St. James and said the operation would be “very, very small.”

“I don’t want people to think there’s a catering facility,” he said. “That is not something that is being contemplated now or in the future.”

The scale of the operation was a concern some residents brought up in comments to the board, as well as concerns about the operation’s proximity to Norwood Avenue Elementary School. One woman said she wanted to know whether there was potential soil contamination on the land. Out of the approximately dozen individuals who spoke, many were in favor of the proposal.

“This is a unique opportunity in my mind to preserve open space,” Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta (R-Fort Salonga) said, noting that there is not much more land left in Huntington Town. He urged the board to move quickly in approving it.

One Northport resident expressed concern about being able to manage the popularity of such a business.

Todd Gardella said he works across from White Post Farms in Melville and has witnessed overflow parking in the area.

“My concern is that this might become something that we cannot foresee at this point in time,” Gardella said.
Alexander Lotz, 20, of Northport, said he’s loved agriculture his whole life and is heartened to see the winery proposal, because it shows younger generations that farming can be done.

“To have someone like Fred present something that’s so unrepresented in our area is inspiring,” he said. “And I appreciate him doing this more than anything.”

Mudd was present at the meeting last week, and spoke to some of the residents’ concerns. He said he’s been on the property and tested the soil, and didn’t see anything concerning with regard to soil contamination. He also committed to staying on the community’s good side.

“We will be right neighborly,” he said. “We will do the right thing.”

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By Bob Lipinski

When I remember Father’s Day, visions of barbecuing steaks, hamburgers, sausages and hot dogs over “real charcoal,” bottles of beer, platters of cold macaroni and potato salad, and of course, slices of sour dill pickles come to mind. Well, this Father’s Day I’m barbecuing, with a gas grill, shell steaks with a dry rub, Caesar salad, baked potatoes, a bottle (or two) of cabernet sauvignon, and of course, a pickle!

I like cabernet sauvignon, as do many people, because of its bouquet, body, flavor, and adaptability to most rich, full-bodied foods. Let’s spend some time exploring this globally, universally accepted red grape variety.

Cabernet sauvignon is a thick-skinned, red grape variety acknowledged worldwide as producing some of the finest dry red wines and is often referred to as the noblest of all red grape varieties. In France, it is grown principally in the Bordeaux region, although planted in other regions as well.

In 1997, Carole Meredith, a professor of enology and viticulture at the University of California at Davis, revealed cabernet sauvignon’s parentage through DNA testing. She stated that it is “150 trillion times” more likely that cabernet franc and sauvignon blanc– rather than any other varieties– were responsible for the cross-pollination leading to cabernet sauvignon’s appearance in the late seventeenth century. Cabernet sauvignon berries are quite small, with a high ration of pits and skin to pulp. By the way, around 1860, Almaden Vineyards produced California’s first commercial cabernet sauvignon wine.

Cabernet sauvignon covers a wide spectrum of aromas and flavors—asparagus, bell pepper, berries (blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, raspberry), black or green olives, black cherry, black currants, black tea, celery, chocolate, dill, licorice, mint, plum, soy, and various herbs can be detected. Some of the aromas and flavors from oak barrels are cedar, coffee, leather, sandalwood, smoke, and vanilla.

While we’re talking about cabernet and barbecuing, you can’t go wrong with a juicy New York strip or T-bone steak. Don’t forget other delights, such as grilled vegetables, portobello mushrooms with balsamic vinegar, tuna soaked in a teriyaki marinade, rack of lamb with mint chutney, veal chops smothered in rosemary, or a pizza cooked right on the grill!

Be creative this Father’s Day and serve a wedge of room temperature cheese on the plate right next to the steaks or other grilled foods. Which cheese do you ask? Let’s see…one goat (Saint-Maure, France), one cow (Monterey Jack, California), and one sheep (Feta, Greece) milk cheese.

These recommended cabernet sauvignon wines from California are available at most wine shops:
Clos Du Val, Napa
Ridge Vineyards, Santa Cruz
Hanging Vine, Central Valley
Amapola Creek, Sonoma
Gundlach-Bundschu, Sonoma
Heller Estates, Carmel Valley
Chappellet Vineyards, Napa
Black Stallion, Napa
Noble Vines 337, Lodi
HandCraft, California
Geyser Peak “Alexander Valley,” Sonoma
Artesa Winery, Napa

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written eight books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese; sales, time management, and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]

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By Bob Lipinski

“Some are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together.” — Pearl S. Buck

When we think of Mother’s Day, images of multicolored flowers, greeting cards with heartfelt words and perhaps breakfast in bed come to mind. Platters of cheese, dried fruit and chilled glasses of wine usually are not thought of in the same breath.

Oh by the way, it wasn’t until May 9, 1914, that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation declaring the first national Mother’s Day.

Now, my idea of a Mother’s Day celebration starts several days before, shopping for the many delicacies mom will certainly love. On the shopping list should be balsamic vinegar, dried apricots and cherries (or cranberries), unsalted walnuts, green and black seedless grapes, strawberries dipped in chocolate and wines … rosé and Champagne. We also need a bouquet of multicolored flowers or perhaps several different colored rose bushes for later planting to keep Mother’s Day all summer long.

There is an old saying, “You eat and drink with your eyes” and that’s precisely where we are headed.

Regarding cheese, purchase a wedge of an orange-colored New York State cheddar, a wedge of your favorite blue cheese, a wedge of brie (bree) from France and a hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy.

Regarding rosé and sparkling wines, here are my recommendations:

2014 Jaboulet Parallèle “45,” Rhône Valley, France. Blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Syrah grapes; perfumed aroma of a fruit salad, wild berries and candy apples. Light-bodied with a zesty aftertaste.

2014 Hecht & Bannier; Côtes de Provence, France. Blend of Grenache, Cinsaut and Syrah grapes. Fruity bouquet of cherries, pomegranate and herbs. Clean, crisp tasting and well balanced, with hints of watermelon. Lovely finish and aftertaste.

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2006, Champagne, France. Blend of pinot noir and chardonnay. Salmon colored with a bouquet bursting of raspberries, pomegranate and oranges. Full in the mouth with citrus, wild cherry and spices. The wine is dry, yet a fruity flavor persists to the end.

N.V. Chandon “Brut”; Napa, California. An abundance of tiny bubbles as well as an aroma and flavor of ripe wheat, toasted bread and a lemon-fresh aftertaste makes this a very enjoyable wine.

Now, let’s assemble the delicacies: On a large, flat satin-white platter, carefully plate the cheese so the various colors and shapes stand out but do not touch. Around the cheeses, arrange some green and black grapes, walnuts and dried apricots or cherries. Carefully, place two chocolate-dipped strawberries in front of each piece of cheese. Ever so lightly, drizzle about 1/4 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar over the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Before we invite mom to partake, be sure there are napkins, perhaps some espresso and a camera. That’s it … and say hello to mom for me!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine & cheese, sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]

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By Bob Lipinski

With the cold weather finally leaving and the holidays just a memory, what better way is there to celebrate warmer weather than with a wine and cheese party. Some helpful hints for a successful party include:

Cheese
Choose an interesting variety of cheeses. Different milks, different countries, the cheese-making styles … all play a role in the subtle differences in each cheese’s color, texture and flavor. Your guests will appreciate the unique colors and textures of the cheeses.
Cheese has sufficient beauty to stand by itself. It shows off best on white dinner plates, plain wooden cheese boards, rustic wooden boards, marble slabs, flat wicker baskets or trays, straw mats or other natural materials.
Do not precut cheese for guests. It exposes too much surface to the air and the cheese will dry out. Before serving the cheese, allow it to sit for 30 minutes to one hour at room temperature, which will soften the texture, release the aromas and maximize the flavor. Serve three to five different types of cheese. More than this causes confusion and leads to cheeses left untouched. Be certain to include one well-known cheese.
Allow approximately four ounces of cheese per person at cocktail parties, unless lots of other food is being served. For eight to 12 guests, have no less than three-quarters of a pound of each cheese.
Provide each cheese with its own knife or spreading utensil, especially soft cheeses. This is necessary, particularly for all blue cheeses. Use tags or flags to identify each cheese … don’t forget the country of origin.

Wine
Offer wines from the same country as the cheese or even decide on a French, Italian or Spanish theme for the festivities. Put up some decorations, play some ethnic music, and perhaps have some small nibbles in addition to the cheese. Provide your guests with small cards containing information about each cheese and matching wine, next to each being served.
Wine choices may include sparkling, dry white or red, sweet white or red, sherry, port or maybe even a pitcher of sangria, decorated with fresh lemons, oranges and several maraschino cherries.
To determine how much wine to purchase, figure on two (6-ounce) glasses of wine per person or one bottle (750-ml = 25.4 ounces) for every two guests. Always purchase one additional bottle in the event of a “bad” bottle or just so you don’t run out. If you don’t use the extra bottle, you can enjoy it when your guests leave!

Bob Lipinski, a local author, has written nine books, including “Italian Wine Notes” and “Italian Wine & Cheese Made Simple” (available on Amazon.com). He conducts training seminars on wine and cheese; sales, time management and leadership. He can be reached at boblipinski.com or at [email protected]