No More Wine Woes in Maine

lisasunset.jpg Every other year for the past 10 years my husband and I make the long and arduous trip from Los Angeles to Bangor, Maine for a week’s vacation at his family’s camp on Lake Pushaw. There’s nothing like relaxing on the dock with a nice glass of wine and listening to the Red Sox games on the radio. Usually we have to stop in New Hampshire or Massachusetts to get anything remotely drinkable because, in past years, the wines found in the grocery store were for emergency use only.

Always on the lookout for wine shops with a wide selection and affordable prices – it’s my  not-so-secret obsession – I noticed a listing for the Bangor Wine & Cheese Co. on the Bangor city website and was intrigued. Since they don’t have a website, I still stocked up in MA before we left, because we couldn’t be left high and dry. A week is a long time without good wine.

After the 5 hour drive, all my husband wanted to do was get to the lake and relax, but he humored me and we popped into the store. Owner Leslie Thistle warmly welcomed us. After looking around, I was thrilled to see that I wouldn’t have to haul wine across state lines ever again.  It’s a small space, but it’s packed with everything a wine junkie could want. They cover all the bases, carrying at least a few bottles from everywhere in the world,  and will even try to carry your favorites (if you happen to be a local). The shop also holds monthly wine tastings – which we sadly missed – and carries a wide range of cheeses.

238665.jpg Thanks to Allan Clark we found a new taste sensation that we just can’t get enough of – grilled Haloumi cheese. It’s from Greece and comes in a 3”x 4” slab. You just cut it into 1/4” slices, throw it on the grill or into a frying pan and wait for it to get brown and gooey. It doesn’t exactly melt, just gets soft and warm. We’ve since found it in Gelsons and Whole Foods and it’s become a BBQ appetizer mainstay.  You can top it with just about anything because it keeps its’ shape, but we like its’ salty goodness plain the best. Adding to the fun, it squeaks against your teeth when you eat it.

Even more shocking was the change in the Orono Hannaford Supermarket. They now have a gourmet food section that rivals most found in Los Angeles and a wine aisle that doesn’t only feature jugs and boxes. Why they spruced up this store in particular is a mystery to us, but we were sure glad they did. I’m not quite ready to move there full-time (we need running water for that); however, at least now we have a few places that  will make those lazy days much more enjoyable. They better be there when I go back.

Bangor Wine & Cheese Co., 86 Hammond St., Bangor, Maine 04401, Phone: 207-942-3338



Grilled Haloumi Cheese with Lemon

1 lemon
½ pound Haloumi cheese
1 large garlic clove
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (3/4-inch-thick) slices peasant or country-style bread
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill 


Prepare a gas grill for direct-heat cooking over moderately high heat.

Squeeze enough juice from lemons to measure 2 tablespoons and put in a bowl.

Cut cheese into 1/3-inch-thick slices.

Mince garlic and mash to a paste with a pinch of salt using side of a large heavy knife, then add to lemon juice. Whisk in salt and sugar until dissolved, then add ¼ cup oil, whisking until combined.

Separately toss lemon slices and cheese each with ½ tablespoon dressing.

Brush both sides of bread with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Grill bread and cheese on grill rack, covered, turning over once, until bread is toasted (2 to 3 minutes total), grill marks appear on cheese (3 to 4 minutes total).

Whisk dill into remaining dressing. Divide bread among 4 small plates and top with cheese. Drizzle with dressing and serve immediately.

Adapted from 


Lisa Dinsmore is an amateur writer, web programmer and wine lover. She has been wine tasting throughout California for the last decade, is currently working her way up to receiving her diploma from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust and has her own wine website, The Daily Wine Dispatch.