The Coast News Group
Taste of Wine

Say cheese pairing with your wine

The press release read: “Join the Cheese Impresario Barrie Linn, bringing together the finest wine and cheese to create a magic relationship  that will sing and dance on your palate.” 
This invitation was circulated by Dorian Linkogle, the co-owner of Briar Rose Winery in Temecula. OK, I knew about the wines she and her husband Les produced, but truthfully I had never been to a premium cheese event.
This much I knew. Red wines, especially heavy-bodied varietals, bloom into velvety, delicious, elegant wines, when European style cheeses are added to the tastings. 
Linn was passionate in her love of cheeses as she opened up about how she simply wanted to tell the world about her discoveries. And the world responded. She has partnered with the Slow Foods Movement, The Oscar Awards Show, Wine Spectator and numerous wineries in her search for the greatest cheeses on the planet, matching up with the greatest wines. 
She introduced us to the “Cheese Highway,” a method of maximizing the taste of cheeses and wines.
According to Linn, after sharp inhalations, she advises putting a small amount of the cheese on the tongue, then sip the selected wine pairing on the tongue over the cheese and swallow.
My favorite of the tasting was the Sartori Reserve Raspberry Bella Vitano from Wisconsin, with origins in Italy. It has a unique Parmesan flavor and a cheddar texture.  Soaked in raspberry tart ale, it took first place in the American Cheese Society Competition. This cheese was paired with the 2005 Briar Rose Double Gold Winner Cabernet Franc, a Bordeaux style wine that exploded with flavor when poured over the “cheese highway.” To learn more about this cheese phenom and more of her thoughts and tips about cheese, go to
Now a few choice words about my all-time favorite cheese, Grana Padano, a magnificent cheese cultivated from cows in the enriching pastures of Parma, Italy. Almost any area of Italy produces cheeses that are worshiped by cheese lovers everywhere. Other popular cheeses are: asagio in Veneto, gorgonzola from Lombardy, parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romana from Romagna, provolone and mozzarella from Campania and ricotta from most areas of Italy.
Grana Padano gets its name from its texture which is grainy. This hard cheese is wonderful for grating over food. Use it in place of salt to enhance flavor. It is an accented yet savory flavored cheese, made in “wheels” and with  aging of two years or more. Grana Padano tends to be moist and more delicate than other Parmigiano cheeses, not as sharp as some, but with a nutty character, sweet and delicate.
Wines that do well with Grana Padano are the full bodied reds from Piedmont and Tuscany. Sip some Barolo and Barbaresco, or Chianti Classico Reserve for the full effect. This cheese lasts a long time without spoiling which is to the good as it is a premium cheese at about $10 a pound or more. Check La Costa Wine Company for inventory. It has expanded its cheese department and has cheese tastings on occasion. Call (760) 431-8455 for details.
Wine Bytes
— La Costa Wine Company has a Deep, Dark Mysterious wine tasting from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 29. You sip deep, brooding, adventurous wines. Free tasting for best Halloween costume. Details at (760) 431-8455.
— Canapes Bistro and Wine Bar in San Marcos is having a Halloween party starting at 8 p.m. Oct. 30. Great food, live music and select wines. Reservations and details at (760) 510-2088.
— A Halloween Murder Mystery Dinner is planned for Thornton Winery in Temecula at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. Eat, drink, come in costume and dance the night away. The cost is $90 per person. RSVP at (951) 699-0099.
—Lorimar Winery has a Halloween “Spooktacular” at 6 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Temecula  Old Town Tasting Room. Wear costumes for a big contest, live music, appetizers and drink specials. Price and details at (951) 240-5177.
— A “Hallo-wine” and Spirits Party happens at Hotel Del Coronado from 7 to 11 p.m. Oct. 30. Costumes encouraged for grown-up trick or treating. Wine and chocolate combinations served in the wine shop, then delicious, lavish hors d’oeurves and dancing in the Crown Room. Advance RSVPs. For price and details call (619) 522-8490.
— The Temecula Wine Growers are presenting a two-day Harvest Celebration from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Nov. 6 and Nov. 7. Visit up to 30 member wineries for wine and wine barrel samplings, and chef special cuisine samples. Two-day ticket is $99. Check other options and to buy tickets, phone (800) 801-9463 or visit
— The San Diego Spirits Festival and Chef De Cuisine Association is pairing local bartenders and chefs in a Team Challenge from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 7 on the rooftop of the Hard Rock Hotel, downtown San Diego. The cost is $25 for tickets in advance or at the door.  Find more information at