There’s Always Room for a Greek Wine

Surprise your taste buds with an offbeat selection to lend any meal a distinctly different flavor


With discreet aromas of red fruits and spices, the red Agiorgitiko grape variety produces expressive rosés and velvety reds. Both can be elegant accompaniments to a host of wine-friendly Italian comfort food dishes, famed for their rare balance of richness and finesse. At the same time, for fans of pizza and Neapolitan-style tomato-based sauces, a rosé made from the Xinomavro variety, with its notes of tomato, spice and a characteristic acidity, is recommended for an interesting harmony.   


Richness, elegance and masterful techniques define many French dishes, such as the legendary beef bourguignon, which would make an excellent match with a Xinomavro. A delicious plate of fruits de mer is complemented well by the acidity of a Santorini white, while the intense sauces, garlic and butter typical of dishes from the south of France render food-oriented Cretan reds the perfect match. And as for the infamous ratatouille, a dish not dissimilar to Greece’s own briam, try pairing it with a white that has marked acidity such as an Assyrtiko or perhaps a fresh Agiorgitiko red, or even a spicy light-red blend of Kotsifali and Mandilaria grapes. That said, the preferred choice of Sofia Perpera would be a Agiorgitiko, Xinomavro or Limniona rosé.


A Vidiano wine, awash with the aromas of exotic fruits on the nose and palate, is a perfect accompaniment to the spiciness and liveliness of Chinese cooking with its many contradictory flavors and playful balances. The rich body of a Vidiano can withstand sweet-and-sour flavors producing a harmonious end result. Also, a light and aromatic Moschofilero white would pair well with many Chinese dishes thanks to its well-balanced sharpness.


As a true melting pot, the United States has a multinational and multicultural cuisine, with myriad interesting dishes. However, the quintessential American food is the hearty, multi-layered burger, with a thick, juicy beef patty, a slice of oily cheddar, a piece of smoked bacon, sweet-sour dill pickle and the wonderful mayo, ketchup, mustard trio. With hundreds of variations spanning all 50 states, choosing a wine to go with your burger can sometimes pose a problem. Maria Dimou recommends a velvety Agiorgitiko with soft tannins for a classic cheeseburger, a demi-sec Xinomavro rosé to add lightness to the meal if the burger contains sweet and spicy elements (caramelized onions, Emmental cheese or jalapeno peppers), or a fragrant Malagousia for a chicken or turkey burger.


Indian cuisine, with its curries and tandoori dishes may on the surface appear less than wine-friendly, but rosés made from Agiorgitiko grapes with their fruitiness and ideally a hint of sweetness (barely off-dry) will offset the spiciness and pair well, says Marianna Makrigianni. Equally good choices for earthy and heavily spiced Indian dishes are wines made from the Vidiano variety, which have fruity and intense aromas, acidity, plenty of body and some sweetness.


According to sommelier Nikolas Giannopoulos, a fresh Moschofilero from Mantineia – a region in Arcadia that produces elegant, aromatic and light white wines with prominent fruity and flowery notes (in particular hints of citrus and fresh rosés) – is the perfect choice to counterbalance the highly aromatic dishes of Thai cuisine. Characterized by intense flavors and high levels of spiciness, it is considered among Asia’s most refined cuisines and calls for elegant wines.


The many contradictory flavors, rich aromas, spicy gestures and frequent use of pulses, lamb, herbs and lemon make rosés the perfect “middle-ground” for pairing Lebanese dishes. Particularly good are the rosés produced from the Xinomavro variety in the Naoussa and Amyntaio regions, which have a cool acidity and fruity aromas. Also suitable are richly expressive reds such as a dry Mavrodafni or a Mavrotragano, or even Savatiano or Roditis whites for cold, spicy dishes.


Reds that are rich in fruits, low in tannins and alcohol, and refreshingly acid can provide the desired balance when paired with exuberant Mexican dishes. A good choice is a fresh Agiorgitiko from Nemea as it is capable of complementing the many fusion elements of Mexican cooking. Another choice would be Xinomavro, whose acidity and freshness will pair well with a hot and spicy gastronomic fiesta.


Elaborate and sophisticated, Spanish cuisine has an equal affinity for the produce of both the land and sea, often combining them in the same dish. A classic example is paella; rich and aromatic, blending many different flavors and ingredients. It is a dish that pairs well with an Agiorgitiko or Limnio rosé thanks to their sophisticated tannins, or with a fresh, light Xinomavro from Amyntaio which will have the desired acidity and oiliness. Then there are the diverse tapas which share a similar philosophy with Greek meze and, as such, are best paired with wines that can accommodate high levels of variety, such as a Vareli or Nychteri from Santorini, or a fruity Assyrtiko from elsewhere.


While the simple and clean elements of Japanese cuisine may make the process of choosing a wine appear straightforward, that simplicity can be confounded by the presence of one or more intensely flavored accompaniments, such as the soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger that are served with sushi. Particularly where raw fish features prominently, such as in sushi, sashimi and nigiri dishes, a Malagousia white makes for a perfect pairing as it will complement the sushi’s natural umami with fruity and herbal notes.

“A Vidiano, with its aromas of exotic fruits, is a perfect accompaniment to Chinese cooking’s many contradictory flavors and playful balances.”

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