Cooking With Cheese

Cooking With Cheese

By Bob Lipinski

I enjoy using cheese as an ingredient in cooking, and its texture, flavor and color adds another dimension to the finished dish. Cheese can be added in chunks, diced, or even shredded to food at the beginning, middle or even end of cooking. You can fry, bake, or broil cheese; add it as an ingredient to many of your favorite recipes or make an incredible grilled cheese sandwich. Some of my hints for cooking with cheese are…

  • Bring cheese to room temperature before use in cooking.
  • When melting or blending cheese into a recipe, use a low temperature for a short period. Cheese is high in protein and prolonged cooking or cooking over high heat will cause the cheese to separate and result in a stringy, tough, somewhat rubbery product. When used in the oven, never exceed 375°F. or the cheese will break down.
  • Hard cheeses can tolerate higher temperatures than soft cheese because more of the protein has been broken down into small, less easily coagulated fragments.
  • A double boiler keeps the heat moderate, thus avoiding a hard, stringy mess.
  • Do not add cheese too soon during cooking; it may curdle or melt away to a stringy mess.
  • To prevent cheeses such as Swiss-types and Mozzarella from becoming stringy during cooking, add a little wine or lemon juice before melting them.
  • When stirring cheese, use a wooden spoon and never use a slotted spoon, which will become clogged with cheese.
  • Cheese works well with sauces that have been thickened with flour or other starches. To avoid a lumpy cheese sauce, add a little flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot at the start of the recipe (before adding the cheese). You can heat the cheese for an extended period and the sauce will remain smooth and creamy.
  • Dice, shred, or crumble cheese into dishes to hasten its melting time and ensure an even distribution throughout the dish. Grated cheese blends into sauces better than chunks or julienned pieces.
  • When melting cheese on top of food, add it near the end of the cooking time. For a brown crispy layer of cheese, add it early in the cooking process.
  • The rind of a Parmigiano-Reggiano wheel is edible and adds an incredible flavor to soups, stews, gravies, and even pasta. Toss the rind into the simmering food and cook until it softens. Remove, chop into small pieces and return the bits to the pot.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

The 2017 Burgundies Are Arriving

The 2017 Burgundies Are Arriving

By Bob Lipinski

Overall, the 2017 vintage in Burgundy was excellent, providing both high quality and considerable quantity. Both reds and whites have a good fruit-acid-alcohol balance.

The whites are excellent; perhaps the best vintage since 2014, with Chablis showing particularly well with floral aromas and flavors of melon, citrus and honeysuckle.

The reds are elegant and fresh with layers of delicate juicy red fruit and great balance. Classic Burgundian Pinot Noir flavor profile. The best wines of the vintage should age well for 20 years.

At a recent trade event, I tasted over 100 wines with tasting notes below.

NV J.J. Vincent Crémant de Bourgogne (sparkling 100% Chardonnay). Brioche, celery, dried flowers, and citrus. Excellent balance.

2017 J.J. Vincent Bourgogne Blanc. Wow! So much fruit; orange blossoms, citrus.

2017 J.J. Vincent Pouilly-Fuissé “Marie Antoinette.” Subtle hints of tangerine, citrus and oil of bergamot. Don’t miss this one!

2017 Château Fuissé Pouilly-Fuissé “Tête de Cuvée.” Bouquet brimming with orange, citrus and yellow plums. Well-balanced.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Combettes.” Light bouquet with fruit flavors of honeydew melon; fruit-acid balance is superb.

2017 Château Fuissé “Les Brûlés.” An aroma and flavor of green apples, citrus, orange, pears, and honeysuckle.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru Les Champeaux.” Bouquet and flavors of raspberry, cherry, spices, licorice, and oak. Smooth finish; great aftertaste.

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Chambolle-Musigny “Les Echézeaux.” Bouquet and flavor of ripe Pinot Noir berries; well-balanced; soft in the mouth

2017 Domaine Jean-Luc & Eric Burguet Vosne-Romanée “1er Les Rouges du Dessus:” Full bouquet and flavor of raspberries, black cherries, yellow plums and hints of earth and brown sugar.

2017 Domaine du Comte Armand “Bourgogne Aligoté:” Perfumed aroma of white peaches, citrus and green apples. Hints of almonds and pine with an underlying tartness. One of the best wines made from the Aligoté grape I’ve tasted in years.

2017 Domaine Dominique Gallois Gevrey-Chambertin “1er Cru, La Combe aux Moines” A fruity bouquet of plums, almonds, and black currants. Great aftertaste.

2017 Armand Rousseau Gevrey-Chambertin “Clos du Château” Aromas of ripe berries, citrus, and violets. Great balance.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Grand Cru:” Sweet, concentrated, jammy, spicy fruit: layers of berries, plums, spices, and vanilla.

2017 Armand Rousseau Ruchottes-Chambertin “Clos des Ruchottes Grand Cru” Medium-full bouquet and flavor of blackberries, jam, chocolate, and Damson plums.

2017 Armand Rousseau “Chambertin Clos de Bèze Grand Cru” Bouquet of jammy spices, plums, cola, and cherries. Almost a sweetness in the mouth. Although young, it’s beginning to get velvety. What a wine!

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

Eight Fun Facts About Bourbon Whiskey

Eight Fun Facts About Bourbon Whiskey

By Bob Lipinski

What is Bourbon Whiskey? A distinctive whiskey of Kentucky made from a grain mixture of a minimum 51 percent corn and aged in new, charred oak barrels.

Where is it Made? Technically, bourbon whiskey can be produced anywhere in the United States although in practice over 90 percent is made in Kentucky. Bourbon is also produced in 48 states, but not in Hawaii and South Dakota.

Is Bourbon Made in Bourbon County, Kentucky? Yes, even though Bourbon County is a “dry county,” where alcohol can’t be sold, Bourbon whiskey can be made there.

Where did the Name Bourbon Originate? Back in the 1700s practically all of Kentucky was a part of Virginia and a large part of the region was called “Bourbon County.” In 1785, it was named by settlers in honor of the French Royal Family—the Bourbons, who helped the colonists win the American Revolutionary War.

            However, another account says the whiskey was named after Bourbon Street, the entertainment district in New Orleans. Bourbon whiskey was being shipped to New Orleans and eventually people asked for the whiskey sold on Bourbon Street.

When was the First Bourbon Whiskey Made? In 1783 at the Old Evan Williams Distillery, a Welshman named Evan Williams, an early Kentucky settler and pioneer earned his permanent role in American history when he built the area’s first commercial distillery on the banks of the Ohio River in Louisville.

In 1789, a Baptist minister, Elijah Craig, made a distilled spirit by combining spring water, corn, rye, and barley malt. Craig is often erroneously credited as the inventor of bourbon whiskey.

What are the Ingredients? Federal regulations require that bourbon whiskey be made from a minimum of 51 percent corn; however, 65 to 75 percent is generally used. The blend of other grains is dictated by the distiller’s own private formula; barley, oats, rye, and wheat can be used.

How Long is Bourbon Aged? Bourbon must be aged in new, charred oak barrels. There is no minimum amount of aging for non-Straight “Bourbon Whiskey” and technically a distiller could pump the clear distillate into a new charred oak barrel and then immediately empty it.

What About Straight Bourbon Whiskey? For Bourbon to be labeled “straight,” it must be aged a minimum of two years. If it is released before the fourth year of aging, it must be stated on the label. In addition, no alcohol, caramel coloring or flavoring can be added.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

The Confusing Language of Wine

“The Confusing Language of Wine”

By Bob Lipinski

“Tasting is the introduction of wine to our senses; sight, smell and taste.” (Author Unknown)

With so many buzzwords, terms, phrases, and descriptions about wine being broadcast, spoken, and written about, it’s understandable to be uncomfortable speaking or even ordering wine at your favorite restaurant or wine shop.

To alleviate confusion and misunderstanding about wine, I’ve defined the most commonly used terms.

Acidity: Tartness or sharpness in the taste of wine due to natural acids. Not to be confused with sour or astringent.

Aroma: The smell or odor of a grape or grapes used to make the wine.

Balance: A wine whose components—sugar, fruit, tannin, acid, alcohol, wood, and so forth—are evident, but don’t dominate one another.

Body; The viscosity, weight on the tongue, or the mouth-filling capacity of a wine. Is it light-bodied (skim milk), medium-bodied (whole milk), or full-bodied (heavy cream)?

Bouquet: The smell or odor of wine that has been aged in a barrel or bottle.

Complex: Wine with many elements, odors, flavors, tastes, and subtle nuances, which seem to harmonize.

Corked: An unpleasant musty odor (mushroom, wet cardboard) or flavor imparted to wine by a defective (moldy) cork.

Dry: Wine with little or no noticeable (tip of tongue) sugar, usually containing less than 0.5 percent sugar.

Finish: Flavor impressions left in the mouth after the wine is swallowed. Some wines finish harsh, hot, and astringent, while others are smooth, soft, and elegant.

Fruity: Wines that have a defined, pleasant aroma and flavor from grapes.

Herbaceous: Wines that have an aroma and flavor of herbs, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc.

Oaky/ Woody: The odor and/or flavor of wines aged in newer oak barrels or aged too long in barrels.

Oxidized: A wine that has lost its freshness due to exposure to air.

Sweet: Wines that have moderate-high levels of residual sugar, which can be detected on the tip of the tongue. This is determined by the winemaker and not due to the grape variety.

Tannin: Slightly bitter and astringent compound derived from the skins of grapes but also present in stems, seeds, and oak barrels.

After tasting, it’s important to describe the wine and discuss it with fellow tasters so you can communicate effectively.” It is best to describe the wine and make notes, so you can remember what the wine tastes like in contrast to other wines. Your notes will allow you to revisit a wine you tasted and create a mental picture of that wine.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR

Winston Churchill and Pol Roger Champagne

Winston Churchill and Pol Roger Champagne

By Bob Lipinski

“I only drink Champagne when in love and when not.” Christian Pol Roger

Pol Roger founded the Champagne house of “Pol Roger” in 1849, in Epernay, France. In the ensuing years, Pol Roger has created a name and reputation as one of finest Champagnes in the world. Perhaps the biggest lover of Pol Roger was Sir Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. In 1945, in celebration of the liberation of France, Churchill was served Pol Roger 1928 at his residence in Paris. According to his son Randolph, Winston was so enamored by the champagne he bought up all the 1928 and 1934 Pol Roger that was remaining.

Every year for his birthday, in tribute to the great friendship between the Pol Roger family and Winston Churchill, he would receive a case of Pol Roger until his death in 1965. The labels of the champagne sent to England after his death were bordered in black. To pay permanent tribute to the great statesman, Pol Roger introduced Cuvée Sir Winston Champagne. The first vintage of Cuvée Sir Winston was 1975, released in 1984. The precise blend of Sir Winston is a family secret and is produced only in the finest vintages.

Below are my tasting notes from a press event.

Pol Roger Brut Reserve NV “White Foil:” Blend of Pinot Noir, Meunier, and Chardonnay. (Pale golden color with a fruity bouquet of green apples and pears. Medium-bodied with delicate bubbles, and hints of grass and citrus.)

Pol Roger “Blanc de Blancs” 2009: 100% Chardonnay. (Pale straw-colored with a delicate bouquet and flavor of apples, brioche, chamomile, citrus, and ginger. Superbly balanced with a very long lingering aftertaste.)

Pol Roger Brut 2008: Blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (Light yellow-colored with a full bouquet of Granny Smith apples, citrus, pears, and tangerine. Medium-bodied and full of flavor. A smooth finish and pleasing, long aftertaste.)

Pol Roger Brut Rosé 2009: Blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. (Salmon colored with a bouquet bursting of raspberries, wild cherries, pomegranate, and oranges. The wine is dry, yet a fruity flavor persists to the end.)

Pol Roger “Cuvée Prestige Sir Winston Churchill” 2006: The wine is aged for an average of 10 years before release. (An elegant and well-developed bouquet of toasted brioche, jasmine, citrus, toast, pears, and anise. Superbly balanced with a velvety texture and lingering flavors of spices, almonds, and anise. An excellent champagne to celebrate the holidays with.)

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR


A Quartet of Bordeaux Wines

A Quartet of Bordeaux Wines

By Bob Lipinski

“Drinking the right wine at the right time is an art.” (Horace A. Vachell)

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

I recently attended a tasting of the wines of Pessac-Léognan, Saint-Julien, Margaux, and Sauternes with representatives from each estate pouring and discussing the wines.

Here is a list of the recommended wines I tasted (included are some tasting notes)

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

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

2013 Château LaTour-Martillac Blanc

2011 Château LaTour-Martillac Blanc

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

2010 Château LaTour-Martillac Rouge

Quartet of Bordeaux Wine

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

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

2014 Château Beychevelle

2009 Château Beychevelle

2005 Château Beychevelle

2015 Amiral de Beychevelle (second label of Château Beychevelle)

Château Kirwan (Third Growth Margaux): The winery makes only red AOC wine. Built in the late 18th century in classical style, Château Kirwan owes its name to Mark Kirwan, an Irishman from a long line of merchants who received the estate in dowry in 1760 through his marriage with the daughter of the landowner, Sir John Collingwood.

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

2015 Château Kirwan

2010 Château Kirwan

2008 Château Kirwan

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

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

2015 Château Guiraud

2010 Château Guiraud

2015 Petit Guiraud (second label of Château Guiraud)

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food; and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR


Zinfandel- America’s Grape- America’s Wine

Zinfandel- America’s Grape- America’s Wine

By Bob Lipinski

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

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

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

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

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

A few recommended zinfandel wines I recently tasted are:

2015 Ravenswood “Dickerson,” Napa Valley

2015 Pedroncelli “Bushnell Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2014 Pedroncelli “Mother Clone,” Dry Creek

2017 Pedroncelli “Dry Rosé of Zinfandel,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Teldeschi Vineyards,” Dry Creek

2016 Kreck “Del Barba Vineyard,” Contra Costa

2015 Kunde Estate Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley

2015 Kunde Reserve Century Vines, Sonoma Valley

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

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR


Cornacchia Wines of Italy- A Hidden Treasure

Cornacchia Wines of Italy- A Hidden Treasure

By Bob Lipinski

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

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

Cornacchia Winery

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two cheeses from Abruzzo worth searching out are Scamorza and Scanno.

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

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

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR


That’s “Amari:” Bittersweet Endings To Any Meal

That’s “Amari:” Bittersweet Endings To Any Meal

By Bob Lipinski

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR


Recent Discoveries- Wines & Spirits

Recent Discoveries- Wines & Spirits

By Bob Lipinski

As an author and professional taster, I generally taste and evaluate more than 100 alcoholic beverages (wine, spirits, beer, and saké) per week. Some are good, some are very good to excellent, while others are not very good.

During the last month I had an opportunity to taste some very interesting wines and spirits that I’d like to share with you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2017 Rapitalà “Piano Maltese” Sicily, Italy (blend of Catarratto, Grillo, and Chardonnay). Dry, clean and crispy with an aroma and flavor of citrus, pears, delicious apples, and roasted almonds, Slightly tart with a wonderful aftertaste.

Bob Lipinski, author of 10 books; writes, consults, and conducts training seminars on Wine, Spirits, and Food and is available for speaking engagements. He can be reached at OR