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Romano Vineyard and Winery

Wine and Cheese…Tips to Having an Awesome Pairing

Wine and Cheese


Wine and Cheese… Tips to Having an Awesome Pairing


Recently Vino 301 launched a Wine and Cheese tour with two amazing partners, Romano Vineyard and Winery (Brandywine, MD) and PA Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD).  Obviously, we are pairing Romano’s finest wines with PA Bowen award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses. When we were selecting which cheeses and wines to pair we started with the cheeses.   Yes, the cheese not the wine!  Most people assume you should start with the wine and build the meal around the wine.   Well, you would be wrong.  Any good food and wine pairing starts with the food.  Food has more impact on how a wine will taste.  This is especially true with cheeses.  It is more than likely cheese will have a negative impact on the taste of wine.  Here are some tips to have an awesome wine and cheese pairing.


Cheese is fatty

Your taste buds immediately perceive levels of sugar, salt and acid when you taste food.  And, this is great to apply general tasting principals like sweet food with sweet wine, acidic food with high acid white wines, or salty food with tannic red wines.  These rules do not always apply to cheese pairings. Cheese can confuse your taste buds. Cheese is fatty and will coat your tongue, like a thin coat of pollen on your car in the beginning of spring.  The mouth coating effect may impair your sense of taste especially with wine.


Go for intensity    

Gauge the cheese flavor intensity when you are matching it to wine.  You want to make sure the wine or cheese does not overpower the other.  For example, an intense blue cheese can be paired with a light flavored Riesling.  This pairing is balanced. The Riesling will not overshadow the cheese.  Pairing a bold, rich Cabernet Sauvignon with Gorgonzola is a battle of flavors.  It is like watching the Ali-Frazier fight, down goes Frazier.  The Cabernet and Gorgonzola flavors are competing with each other.


Acid can be fat best friend

Acid and fat combinations are an unlikely pair, but many people enjoy the combo. Acidic wines like Pinot Gris, Albariño, and Grüner Veltliner cut through the fat.  Remember the fatty coat we discussed earlier, these wines will cut through that coat.  They are the Edward Scissorhands of the wine world.  Try mozzarella, feta and goat cheese with these wines.


Fruity with savory flavors

There is a component in food known as umami.  Umami is the savory taste.  People often refer to mushrooms when describing it. This flavor is found in hard cheeses.   Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan and gruyere should be paired with fruit forward wines, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  Look for wines with mild tannin but have a lot of fruity character.


If this is overwhelming, no worries.  Below is a 2015 Wine Enthusiast Magazine wine and cheese guide you can use to have an awesome pairing.  Share your favorite cheese and wine pairing with us.  Leave your wine and cheese pairing in the blog comment section.


Wine and Cheese Pairing Examples

Cheese Wine
Camembert Champagne
Brie Chardonnay
Robiola Sparkling Wine
Taleggio Pinot Blanc
Gouda Merlot
Cheddar Cabernet Sauvignon
Parmesan Chianti
Double Gloucester Zinfandel
Pecorino Valpolicella
Gruyere Sauvignon Blanc
Fontina Bardolino
Gorgonzola Port
Stilton Sauternes
Blue Riesling
Cambozola Eiswein
Ricotta Pinot Grigio
Mozzarella Sauvignon Blanc
Goat Chenin Blanc
Feta Beaujolais
Burrata Tocai Friulano

Credit:  WINE ENTHUSIAST, 2015


Vino 301’s 5th Year Anniversary … A Year of Giving and New Adventures

Vino 301’s 5th Year Anniversary


Happy Anniversary to us!  It’s our 5th year anniversary. Thank you for supporting us over the past five years.  We have had a great time creating memories with you.  We appreciate you and look forward to sharing more laughs, more adventures and a lot of wine.   We have new activities planned for you this year.


Giving Back To Our Community

Vino 301 offered discounted tours or events to demonstrate our appreciation in prior years to celebrate our anniversary.  This year we are celebrating our anniversary differently.  We appreciate you more than ever.  We are grateful for you uplifting us, so we want to uplift others. Vino 301 is showing our gratitude by giving back. A dollar from each regional wine tour, Chocolate and Wine tour, and Wine, Beer & Spirits tour ticket sold will be used to purchase food for The Bowie Interfaith Pantry and Emergency Aid Fund this year.  The Bowie Pantry provides emergency food and financial aid to residents in Prince George’s County.  From Vino 301’s the beginning, we have always expressed our passion for supporting local vintners, farmers and businesses and we are sharing our passion by assisting our community.   If you wish to donate food or funds to the Bowie Pantry, visit Bowie Pantry website.


New Adventures

We have a lot instore for you this first half of the year.  More wine packages, and tour experiences!!!

National Drink Wine

February –  We are celebrating National Drink Wine Day on February 18.  It is a real holiday. This holiday celebrates wine drinkers and everything that is good about wine.   It is only right that we observe this national holiday at a wine bar. Vino 301 Wine Concierge is hosting a social at Red, Red Wine Bar(Annapolis, MD) on February 18 from 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.  Join us and enjoy wine flights and light hors d’oeuvres.   More information, click here.



Wine and cheese tourMarch –     March is Maryland Wine Month.  Vino 301 is pairing cheese with Maryland wine.  Wine and Cheese tour is a new specialty tour.  We partnered with Romano Vineyard and Winery and P.A. Bowen Farmstead.  Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses.  This wine tour will take you to Romano Vineyard for the cheese pairing.   Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard).   More information, click here



April –          The girls are out of here!  Girlfriends Getaway takes you to Inn Boonsboro (Boonsboro, MD).  Spend the weekend at famed novelist, Nora Roberts, bed and breakfast.  Girlfriends Getaway is a weekend adventure that includes two-night stay at the Inn Boonsboro, wine tour with lunch, evening happy hours, yoga class, and much more.  Stay tuned for more information.


May –          Shopping is blooming in May. Sip and Shop is an afternoon of sampling selected fine wines, enjoying delectable appetizers and shopping.  W by Worth clothing, high-quality women’s fashions, will be on display for a fun shopping spree – hassle-free with personalized service.  More details are coming.

June –          Vino 301 is headed for the water in June.  We partnered with Atlantic Kayak Company.  Take a Twilight Kayak tour along the Mattawoman Creek. There’s nothing more relaxing and engaging than spending time on the water.  Leave the crowded streets and bike paths behind, and go on a kayak adventure! Top off your evening with a wine and cheese pairing. More details are coming.


Thank you again for five wonderful years.  See you along the wine trails.

Jaw Dropping Gifts: 2017 Wine Gift Giving Guide

2017 Wine Gift Giving Guide:  Jaw Dropping Gifts


“What do you want for Christmas?” are the six words that always stop me in my tracks.  Not because I am a scrooge or I do not like exchanging gifts.  On the contrary, I love the holidays and giving gifts to friends and family.  I love the look of joy and the smiles a perfectly selected gift brings.  Well then, why does “What do you want for Christmas?” bring on temporary paralyze?  It is stuff.  The thought of having more stuff.  I don’t want more stuff.  Stuff adds clutter to my overly generous furnished home.  I prefer to give experiences to people.  Something they hopefully enjoy doing, which will create lasting memories.  The jaw dropping gifts list is composed of items or experiences that will create memories for your wine lover.


Wine Stocking Stuffers and Small Presents


photo credit: Tasha Dooley

WineCream is homemade ice cream and wine.  The WineCream creators did the impossible.  They made dessert better.  They improved everyone’s frozen dessert by adding wine.  Located in Baltimore City, WineCream has a tasting room where you witness their unique process of making the ice cream and delight in tasting their fruity wine ice cream.  You can schedule private tastings.  Your visit includes a tour of the historical industrial building, ice demonstration and a tasting. They have seasonal flavors like Apple Pie, Caramel Pie and Peach Cobbler.  You taste between 4 and 6 ice creams.   If you not interested in the onsite tasting, WineCream does ship locally.  $15 for tasting fees,  $14.99 pint of ice cream (Shipping not included) purchased online WineCream


Make Your Own Wine

While sipping a glass of Pinot Noir do you ever say to yourself, “I could make this”?  We found a place that allows you to get your wish. The Urban Winery (Silver Spring, MD) offers wine making classes.   Here is your chance to show off your inner winemaker.  You can geek out over the whole wine making experience.  The wine classes are small… you and 5 of your favorite people are the average size group.   It is a two part experience.  During your first visit, you select the varietal and make the wine with the resident winemaker.  About 10 – 14 weeks later, you go back to The Urban Winery to bottle, cork and label your wine. When it is all said and done, you make approximately six gallons or 3 cases of wine.  Call or email The Urban Winery to book your event $500 – $700 per group


photo credit: Urban Winery

29 Bottle Wine Cooler

A couple years ago my brother gave me a wine chiller refrigerator for Christmas.  He immediately became my favorite brother. (By the way, he is my only sibling).  It has the dual temperature settings for white and red wines.  It is conveniently stored in my basement where I cellar my wine. The chiller’s compressor cycles, as a result it can be a little loud and expends a lot of energy are the only draw backs.  I heard similar concerns expressed by other chiller owners.  So, when NewAir contacted me about testing their 29-Bottle Black Stainless Wine Cooler, I had reservations.  How could this be different then my current wine frig?   In the name of wine, I gave it a try.

photo credit: NewAir


Immediately, I noticed NewAir 29 wine bottle cooler is a fourth slimmer than mine. Interesting.  It holds the same number of bottles, but it is slimmer.  The cooler is a sleek black stainless-steel model. It is perfect for people who do not have a lot of space, but need to accommodate at least two cases of wine. It has similar functionality, like dual temperature controls and adjustable wood rack trays, as in my current one.  However, it is noticeably quieter. I did not hear the compressor cycling. NewAir is energy efficient.  An unexpected surprise, was the lock.  I can secure the cooler. This feature is great for people with kids and keeping wine in the “right” hands.  I hope I do not lock myself out.  I look forward to filling my new wine cooler and the new experiences each wine bottle will bring.  The nice people at NewAir is offering a discount to Vino 301 followers.  Use code VINO for 20% off the NewAir AWR-290DB-B Black Stainless Wine Cooler when you are purchasing online.  $829.95 NewAir.com


Wine & Cheese Tour

Wine and cheese tourCheese frequently comes to mind when you think of serving wine.  So why not have cheese during your wine tour?  Vino 301 is offering a Wine and Cheese tour in 2018.  Your adventure begins with a cheese and wine pairing, where Romano’s finest wines will be paired with P.A. Bowen Farmstead (Brandywine, MD) award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses.  Romano Vineyard and Winery produces handcrafted award-winning wines from their estate grown grapes and grapes from custom growers.   PA Bowen make award-winning raw milk artisan cheeses, and we are a pasture-based sustainable farm.   Your next destination will take you to one of southern Prince George’s County local vineyards (Robin Hill Farm & Vineyards, JaneMark Winery &Vineyard, or Gemeny Winery & Vineyard). $115 per person.  Wine & Cheese Tour

Four Very Unique Wine Trails

Four Very Unique Wine Trails: Discover Maryland’s Wine Trails

Maryland grapes date back to the 16th century.  But, its role as a competitor in the wine industry is relatively new. Fewer than 20 wineries existed 30 years ago. Maryland is now trending towards 100 wineries.  As a wine geek, this is exciting to witness but why should you care? You should care because the industry is midst of a transformation.  It is producing noteworthy wines that are more accessible to the consumer.  Vineyard visiting is no longer reserved for elite wine snobs.  It is an activity to be enjoyed by all wine lovers.

We discovered Maryland’s newer wine trails — Capital, Antietam Highlands, and Chesapeake in the first Discover Maryland’s Wine Trail blog.  Today, we will discover four unique wine trails that have shaped the industry and are leading its transformation.

Marylands wine trails


Carroll Wine Trail

Carroll Wine Trail has the fewest wineries, only two:  Old Westminster Winery and Serpent Ridge Vineyard. Carroll Wine Trail is small but mighty. Mighty meaning its influence.  The Trail had more wineries  and tremendous influence on grape growing and wine production during the early years.  Wineries closed, people retired or vineyards decided to only grow grapes are the reasons that attribute to the reduction of wineries.

Do not overlook this trail. It is still influential. Vino 301 frequently takes groups to these vineyards.   They are warm and inviting.  It is like going to your favorite aunt’s home.  You know you are going to be welcomed and have a good time.   Hal and Karen are Serpent Ridge’s owners.  They offer many fun activities, like yoga, paint parties, chocolate and cigar pairings.  But don’t just go for the activities, Serpent Ridge pours good wine.  My personal favorites are Albariño and Serpent Kiss.

Serpent Ridge

A couple years ago when you asked someone what Maryland wineries have you ever visited; Linganore Winecellars or Boordy Vineyard were always mentioned.  Now, people say Old Westminster too.  Established less than 10 years ago, the sibling trio (Lisa, Ashli and Drew) have re-invented how people imagine Maryland wine.   Their mission is to produce noteworthy wines from Maryland.  By the number of awards and accolades they have received, they can check the box.  This year they were named by The Daily Meal  one of the top 101 Wineries in America.  Awards by pretentious wine judges are nice, but should not be the reason why you visit.  You should visit because Old Westminster’s wines are exceptional.  They continue to hone their wine making craft and produce wines that appeal to most wine drinkers— crisp balanced white wines, fruity long-lasting finish red wines, and trendy sparkling wine.  You are not going to find semi-dry or sweet wines on their tasting menus.


Frederick Wine Trail

Frederick Wine Trail celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017.  Congratulations!  I think it is the second oldest wine trail.  Please do not quote me on this fact.  However, you can quote me on this fact… it is home to the largest winery.  Linganore Winecellars is the largest winery.  Here is another wine nerd factoid … it is home to two American Viticultural Areas (AVA) — Catoctin AVA and Linganore AVA.  AVAs are a big deal in the wine world because it helps wine drinkers identify the type of wine in the bottle. It’s like a secret decoder ring.

Now that the facts are out of the way, let us get back to the wine trail. Linganore Winecellars, Loew Vineyard, Elk Run Vineyard and Catoctin Breeze are among the establishing wineries.  They have produced wines for over 20 years and have had a tremendous imprint on Maryland’s wine culture.  The vanguard is complemented by newer wineries.  In the upcoming Frederick Wine Trail blog, I will discover how the newer wineries continue to bring recognition to the trail.

Noble grapes —Chardonnay, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon thrive in this region because of the ideal growing conditions.  Wine blends and fruit wines (e.g., peach, apple) have garnered a following also.

Aside from the wine, what I love about this region is the wineries proximity to one another.  They are clustered, so the drive between wineries on average is 15 minutes.  You can make a weekend out of vineyard hopping and visit almost all eight vineyards.


Legacy Wine Trail 

Maryland’s newest wineries are in Prince George’s County.  The latest winery is opening fall 2017.  Brandywine, MD is home to many of Prince George’s County vineyards.  Former tobacco farms are now thriving vineyards.  The wineries are close in proximity, so you can visit them all in the same day.  Romano Vineyard, Robin Hill Farms, JaneMark Vineyard and Gemeny Vineyard make up the Legacy Wine Trail.


Patuxent Wine Trail

Patuxent river runs through the southernmost wine trail.  Anne Arundel, Calvert and St. Mary counties are home to the Patuxent wine trail.  Maryland’s Route 4 also runs through this trail.  It is one of the easiest trails to navigate. Take a lazy afternoon drive south on MD Route 4 and you are can easily access many of the wineries.

Former tobacco farmlands influence the trail’s wine and architecture.  Refurbished tobacco barns have a renewed use —charming tasting rooms.  Great Frogs and Fridays Creek Vineyard have made great use of these barns. Local artisans display their work in Fridays Creek Vineyard’s loft.  In an upcoming blog, I will explore tobacco’s relationship with current growing conditions.


Chambourcin, a French-American hybrid grape, is used widely as by winemakers from this region. It is a signature grape that is extremely versatile.  It is expressed in different styles.  The styles range from Cove Valley’s semi-dry wine, Fridays Creek Vineyard’s table wine, Port of Leonardtown Winery award-winning reserve to Running Hare Vineyard port style wine.


Piedmont Wine Trail

Piedmont means “the foot of the mountains”. The growing conditions along this trail mimic the conditions in Italy’s Piedmont region.  However, in my mind Piedmont means the heart Maryland wine. The Piedmont trail is home to Maryland’s oldest winery — Boordy Vineyards.  Boordy Vineyards along with Fiore Winery & Distillery, and Basignani Vineyard are the vineyards that gave face to Maryland wine.  These vineyards cultivated Maryland’s wine character and personality.  They continue to plow the path of its future.  You will find very traditional wines along the trail.  No trendy blue wine here.  Old world traditional wine making methods are used.

One of the most popular wine trails, the trail traverses Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Harford County. There are almost a dozen wineries.  It is a 30-minute drive from downtown Baltimore to reach the Trail.  The transition from city to country is mesmerizing for many.  People forgot how rural Maryland still is.



 The trail has the only winery that is also a creamy.  WineCream is a winery that serves “boozy” ice cream.  Yes, the ice cream is made with wine.  The trail is also home to cideries.  I will discover other distinguishing traits in along the Piedmont trail in the blog series.


Read and sip along with Vino 301

Hopefully, your interest has been peeked and you will continue to follow our blogs published over the month.  We will taste and discover the wines along all the trails.


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