by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

World of Wine Porto grape wall relief

In August, operators and their front- and back-of house teams can celebrate two restaurant and bar holidays with one white wine.

Obviously, that means two bites at the apple—or grape (my apologies, I’ll see myself out)—in the same week. In turn, that generates revenue and move wine inventory.

Okay, so what wine does double duty in August? Albariño, a popular white wine with origins in Portugal. In fact, there are two countries that dominate Albariño production, Portugal and Spain.

On Monday, August 1, your guests have the opportunity to celebrate International Albariño Day. Just three days later, August 4, we have National White Wine Day. How convenient!

As we know, while many of today’s guests have their favorites and stick to them, they like to try new things. This August, add Albariño to your Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc lineup.

So, what do you need to know about Albariño? Let’s take a look at this refreshing white wine below.

The Wine Nerd Stuff

As I say above, Albariño traces its origins to Portugal. In its home country, this varietal’s name is Alvarinho.

Most people who are familiar with Albariño are familiar with bottles from Spain. So, Albariño is the same grape as Alvarinho.

Call it by either name, this white wine is an Old World wine. In fact, some of these vines are a few hundred years old. For those wondering, Old World wines come from Europe, speaking generally. And New World wines? Well, they come from anywhere not in Europe.

However, there is indeed New World Albariño. Also, if you happen to operate a restaurant or bar in North America, these New World versions can be easy to acquire.

Unsurprisingly yet conveniently, there are wineries producing Albariño in California. Of course, these California Albariños are different than their Portuguese and Spanish counterparts. California’s Central Coast wine region is warmer than Spain’s cool Galicia region.

The Flavors and Aromas

Alright, so what’s Albariño like on the nose and palate, and how does it finish? To answer these questions, let’s look at the Old World wine first.

Again, I’m speaking about this white wine in broad strokes. You and your staff will need to taste a few bottles to understand their nuances.

So, Portuguese and Spanish Albariño tends to be light-bodied and dry, with high acidity. On the nose, expect peach and citrus like grapefruit, lemon, and lime. You may also detect a hint of wet stone, owing to its minerality.

On the palate, there’s usually a touch of salinity, plenty of acid, and notes of grapefruit, honeysuckle, nectarine, honeydew, and granite. Expect a long, dry finish.

Now, since Old World versions tend to be grown in cool climates, they tend to be light-bodied. Since Californian Albariño grows in a warmer climate, its characteristics are different.

Generally speaking, California Albariño is medium-bodied in comparison to its Old World counterparts. The Californian wines tend to have both floral and tropical notes on the nose. Along with the notes one would expect from Spanish and Portuguese wines, California Albariño can also feature orange and elderberry flavors.

Don’t Forget the Food

Obviously, wine pairs well with food—that should go without saying. And it would have too, but I said it.

Anyway, maximize guest spend by including your back-of-house team for your International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day promotions.

For this varietal, think lighter foods. Seafood, freshwater fishes, chicken, tofu, salads, grilled vegetables, and fruits pair well with Albariño.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider cheese pairings. So, try your Albariños with Chèvre, Manchego, Burrata, Feta, Gruyère, and Brie.

You have time to add some crisp, delicious Albariños from multiple regions to your menu. Create two promotions that showcase these wines and lure in your guests with irresistible pairings.


Image: World of Wine Porto, Portugal (Hayffield L on Unsplash)

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Cheese Pairings: Wine, Beer, Spirits

Cheese Pairings: Wine, Beer, Spirits

by David Klemt

Wine glasses and cheese board

National Wine and Cheese Day is Monday, July 25, so let’s take a look at pairings that will get mouths watering.

According to historians, people have been pairing wine with cheese for several centuries. And per scientists, this legendary pairing makes a lot of sense.

Cheese is, obviously, fatty. Further, fat is oily. Then we have alcohol, which is astringement. When we eat cheese or other fatty/oily foods, they coat the mouth. As we also know, alcohol tends to dry out our mouths.

So, the theory as to why pairing cheese with wine works comes down to balance. Of course, there’s a term for this balance you likely know: mouthfeel.

However, science has an additional theory about wine and cheese. For this theory, we look at the “flavor spectrum.” Flavors that are far apart from one another are often pleasant to us.

As an example, not many of us would appreciate a slice of cheddar cheese on top of a cheddar cheese-flavored cracker dipped in cheddar cheese sauce. That would be monotonous and boring.

Wine Pairings

  • Chardonnay and Camembert
  • Riesling and Raclette
  • Gewürztraminer and Edam
  • Pinot Grigio/Gris and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Chenin Blanc and Chèvre
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Gouda
  • Champagne and Brie
  • Prosecco and Asiago
  • Rosé and Havarti or Fontina
  • Pinot Noir and Gruyère
  • Merlot and Camembert or Gorgonzola
  • Shiraz (Australian-style varietal) and sharp Cheddar or smoked Gouda
  • Syrah (French-style varietal) and Pecorino or Roquefort
  • Malbec and Manchego
  • Sangiovese and Fontina or Parmigiano Reggiano

Beer Pairings

Perhaps your guests would prefer to celebrate National Wine and Cheese Day with a substitution. Like, for instance, swapping out wine for beer.

Well, it turns out cheese goes great with many styles of beer.

  • American Pale Ale and American Cheddar
  • Amber Ale and Gouda or Brie
  • Witbier and goat cheese
  • Hefeweisen and Feta
  • American Lager and Mozzarella
  • American Pilsner and Chèvre
  • IPA and Parmigiano Reggiano or Blue Cheese
  • Brown Ale and Gouda
  • Porter and Muenster or Gruyère
  • Stout and Blue Cheese

Spirits Pairings

Hey, beer isn’t the only beverage that we can swap with wine. Interestingly, several categories of spirit pair well with cheese.

As with wine and beer, it’s crucial to try pairings with specific spirits before offering them to guests.

  • Vodka and Cheddar or Blue Cheese
  • Gin: London Dry and Pecorino; Genever and Triple Cream Brie; Plymouth and Époisses de Bourgogne
  • Brandy and Butterkäse
  • Rum and Fontina
  • Mezcal and aged Cheddar or Pecorino
  • Tequila: Blanco and Brie or Feta; Reposado and Manchego; Añejo and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Bourbon and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Rye and Gouda
  • Irish whiskey and Brie or Camembert
  • Scotch: Light-bodied and Comté; Full-bodied and Stilton. For a deeper dive into pairing Scotch with cheese, click here.

Image: Allison Kettlety on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How About Some Cheese with that Scotch?

How About Some Cheese with that Scotch?

by David Klemt

Cheese plate with Brie, Parmesan, Pepperjack and white Cheddar cheeses

On Tuesday, July 27, America celebrates National Scotch Day.

Of course, we could round up an array of tempting bottles. However, we’re going in a different direction for this spirited holiday.

Instead of a roundup, we’re sharing cheese and Scotch pairings sure to pique the interest of your guests.

As our Bar Hacks Podcast listeners we know, we love a bonus. So, you’ll also find wine pairings below. You can use those on Sunday, July 25, National Wine & Cheese Day.

So, please share two of our favorite things, interesting food and beverage pairings and bonuses. Cheers!

Lighter Expressions

Scotches with lighter, mellower profiles and sweet, fruit or citrus flavors require pairings that won’t overpower them. Of course, being lighter doesn’t make them any less complex or mean they lack in sophistication.

Comté (French, cow’s milk)

Versions of Comté that have some age on them (18 or 24 months) are known for salty, earthy and creamy notes. Generally speaking, quality Comté is also known for hazelnut and buttery aromas and flavors. These pair well with Scotches with fruit and vanilla on the palate, like those aged in ex-bourbon barrels. (Wine pairings: Bordeaux, Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)

Gruyère (Swiss, cow’s milk)

So, you want to pair a Scotch that was aged in ex-Sherry casks with the perfect cheese. You want to offer a Gruyère here, as the nutty, garlicky and oniony notes of some versions will enhance—not overpower—the fruity, mellow notes and smoothness of the Scotch. Interestingly, some Gruyères resemble Comté. (Wine pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Malbec, Syrah)

Manchego (Spanish, sheep’s milk)

The richness of Manchego stands up to Scotches with citrus, vanilla, spice, and honey notes. Look for curado (aged three to six months) and viejo (aged 12 to 24 months) for the best aromas and flavors. (Wine pairings: Cava, Merlot, Rioja, Tempranillo)

Brie (French, cow’s milk)

This variety of cheese tends toward the subtle, with nutty notes. Brie plays well with Scotches that have fruity and sweet notes. (Wine pairings: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)

Parmesan (Italian, cow’s milk)

Speaking of nutty flavors, Parmesan pairs well with lighter Scotches that have bright citrus notes or earthier profiles. (Wine pairings: Lambrusco, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco)

Camembert (French, cow’s milk)

Another great selection for lighter Scotches. Camembert features sweet, floral notes that don’t overpower Scotches that also have sweet flavors. (Wine pairings: Champagne, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)

Feta (Greek, French, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk)

Interestingly, Feta has seen quite a rise in popularity with home chefs during the pandemic. So, give guests what they want and may have been cooking with themselves. Feta’s tanginess enhances the sweetness and fruitiness of lighter Scotches. (Wine pairings: Albariño, Champagne, Lambrusco, Riesling)

Heavier Expressions

Big, bold, full-bodied. Smoky and peaty. More intense Scotches need rich, sharp, and, oftentimes, creamy cheeses that can stand up to them.

Roquefort (French, sheep’s milk)

A blue cheese like Roquefort is sharp, rich and creamy, so it provides balance to smoky Scotches. (Wine pairings: Ice wine, Riesling, Sauterne, Sherry)

Stilton (English, Irish, cow’s milk)

Stilton, another blue cheese, is not as sharp as Roquefort and some others. However, it has a full body and its finish can be intense. That means it works well with rich, peaty Scotches. (Wine pairings: Gewürztraminer, Port, Riesling, Sherry)

Gouda (Dutch, cow’s milk)

Gouda, with a smoky profile itself, pairs with peaty, smoky Scotches. (Wine pairings: Barbera, Grüner Veltliner, Lambrusco, Zinfandel)

Cheddar (English, cow’s milk)

Have a Scotch that’s heavier on woody, oaky notes than smoke? Cheddar—and there are many options to choose from—plays well with such Scotches. (Wine pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cava, Champagne, Chardonnay)

Remember that executing a pairing at its highest level means including the staff. This will help them sell pairings, upsell pairings, and identify pairings in the first place.

Dietary note: Make sure to read the labels of the cheeses you put on your menu. If any cheese has animal rennet, they’re not fit for vegetarians or vegans to consume.

Image: Jennifer Murray from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Grilled Cheese Day: Mastering the Melt

Grilled Cheese Day: Mastering the Melt

by David Klemt

Person pulling apart melty grilled cheese sandwich

There are few comfort foods more popular than a well-made, melty grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s such a perfect comfort food that it has its own national holiday in the United States.

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day is April 12 in the US. From what I’ve read, Canada also gets in on the fun.

Melt Mastery

If you want to make the best grilled cheese sandwiches, not just any cheese will do.

The saying goes that you can’t squeeze blood from a stone. Well, you also can’t squeeze a melt out of a hard cheese cheese.

So, you want to make one of the comfiest of comfort foods. Cheese selection matters. Here’s what to consider:

  • Moisture content. Hard cheeses have very little water content and therefore don’t fully liquify.
  • Fat content. Cheeses with a high fat content melt very well.
  • Acidity. Cheeses that are highly acidic get stringy when melted. Acid-curded cheeses (vegan, many goat cheeses) don’t melt much, if at all.
  • Age. If you want melty cheese that results in that visually appealing cheese pull, look for fresh and unaged cheeses.

Melt Mates

It’s tempting to throw the cheese drawer at a sandwich. If one cheese is great, more cheeses are even better, right?

Wrong. Certain cheeses melt together better than others. Consider this:

There are restaurants that have grilled cheese eating challenges. Complete such a challenge, bask in glory forever. The reason this particular challenge must be completed quickly is melting points. As the sandwich cools, the cheeses congeal. The harder, lower-fat cheeses make it much more difficult to finish the admittedly ridiculous challenge sandwich.

So, which challenges melt the best and tend to play well together? Check out the list below:

  • American
  • Blue Cheese
  • Brie (works particularly well with fruit slices, jam and aged Cheddar)
  • Cheddar (look for younger versions for the best melt)
  • Colby
  • Comté
  • Fontina
  • Gruyère (again, younger versions tend to be better for grilled cheese sandwiches)
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Muenster
  • Pepper Jack
  • Provolone
  • Raclette
  • Taleggio

Become Legend

Comfort foods have become big-time revenue generators during the pandemic in America and Canada. There’s no reason to believe that’s going to change any time soon.

Master your melt and your sandwiches will become legend. Master the sides, dips and other accoutrements that enhance your legendary sandwich(es) and you’ll become a grilled cheese god.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash