Piave

Alfresco dining and warm summer nights lead me to pair Frescobaldi Castiglioni Chianti DOCG with a harder cheese. Italian-made Piave is delicious with the wine and is one of those firm cheeses that will not melt and drip on your shoe when the evening is still steamy and hot. This actually happened to me at the Hollywood Bowl, don't let it happen to you. Stick with hard cheeses when the weather is hot or when you're on a picnic.

When paired with this Chianti, the fruit flavors of the wine come flying through the flavors of the salty-nutty-rich cheese. Take two sips of wine for each bite of cheese and notice you can taste the age on the wine with this aged cheese.

Piave comes from the northern part of Italy's Veneto region. It is the color of straw and is a cow's milk cheese that when aged can even be grated. Piave's nutty and almost buttery flavor with a quite sharp finish are reminiscent of Parmigiano-Reggiano but with its own personality.

Piave is a terrific cheese to star on a platter of cured meats, olives, peppers and marinated artichoke hearts. Each of these accompaniments will take your mouth on a different off ramp along The Cheese Highway as you sip your Castiglioni Chianti have a great summer evening with your guests.