Pairing Greek Wine With Food

By Kathy Spiliotopoulos
Executive V.P., Nestor Imports, Inc.

Now that Greek wines have come of age, here's how to show them off at every course:


Whether you're going Greek with the likes of taramosalata, melitzanosalata, grilled octopus, or not, perhaps with canape's, bacon­wrapped chicken livers, stuffed mushrooms, clams Casino, or even buffalo wings, there is actually something in common

for all of these dishes. They are savory, flavorful and most contain a fair amount of oil, hopefully Greek Extra virgin. The spicier and more flavorful the dish, the more full-bodied should be the wine.

White wines will good acidity, to cut the oiliness go best: Amethystos white, made from Sauvignon blanc, Assyrtiko and Semillon, has flavors of tropical fruit and enough acidity to work well. For spicier or oilier appetizers, try Micros Vorias Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc, which has vibrant acidity and lots of grapefruit and citrus flavors. Other Greek varietals to consider are Moscofilero from Mantinia and Assyrtiko from Santorini; both are crisp and have either stony or mineral notes.

For the traditionalists, or the brave, this is the course where both Retsina and Ouzo shine. Retsina, especially the more lightly resinated, such as Retsina Kourtaki goes very well with meze. OK, ouzo is an anise based spirit not a wine, but cannot be ignored when covering meze, most especially if it comes from Plomari, the only appellation of origin for ouzo. The irrepressible and luscious Ouzo Plomari by Issidoros Arvanitis is an excellent choice. For those who like a bit more strength, try Barbayanni Ouzo Blue or the most strong, ouzo Aphrodite, triple distilled for smoothness.


Here is where you can ignore the need to have a wine with every course. After all, soup is a liquid. If you must, follow the guidelines for main courses.


Will it be a horiatiki or simply a salad of mixed greens with vinaigrette? How about a steamed artichoke, or a salad of beets and goat cheese?

If the level of acidity (e.g., vinegar, lemon juice) in the salad is high, then a "bone dry" wine is called for. Try Micros Vorias Lagorthi, with its citrus flavors and nuances of mountain herbs to compliment the salad dressing. A wine from Crete made from Vilana grapes can work well with its green apple flavors.

If the salad has some sweetness, such as the beets or artichoke, try a rose. Amethystos rose made from cabemet Sauvignon blended with a little merlot and Syrah is a good choice with flavors of strawberries and cherries, and has enough acidity to cope with the salad dressing.

Of course there is the Grecian Roditis such as Apelia, which is crisp and dry and will work well with almost any salad.


So much food; so little space! First some rules of thumb, then some suggestions. Food and wine are meant to compliment not fight each other. If you are serving something delicate and light, a light bodied white wine is in order. If a savory stew is on the menu, a full-bodied red is the best choice. The vast in between allows for a wide range of choices. Here are some examples:

For Thanksgiving turkey try a medium bodied red, made from Agiorgitiko grapes, such as Kouros Nemea, with fresh berry and plum flavors. If white is your passion, an unoaked Chardonnay works well, such as Oenoforos from the Peloponnese or Chateau Julia from Drama in the north of Greece.

A juicy grilled steak screams for merlot, unless you are more fond of cabemet sauvignon Which works well, too. For merlot, try Chateau Julia from Drama. For Cabemet Sauvignon, try Oenoforos from the Peloponnese or Cava Amethystos from Drama. Why fight? How about a blend of both: Amethystos red blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the Greek Limnio. Micros Vorias Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon is unoaked but will work well, too.

Lamb: Those from the north of Greece will insist on a Naoussa, whether from Boutari, Tsantali or an elegant boutique such as Chrisohoou. Those from the south of Greece will in insist on a Nemea, ­whether Kouros or the legion of other Nemeas that have sprung up in recent years.

Light fish dishes such as flounder, grilled shrimp, or even sushi call for a light bodied white. Try Kouros Patras, made from Roditis grapes; a dry wine with delicate pear-like fruit flavors. For more fatty fishes, a more full-bodied white is in order, such as Amethystos white or Micros Vorias Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc.

Going vegetarian? If it's a savory gemista, briam, a vegetable­rice timbale or even pasta, try a lighter red from Crete made from Mandilaria and Kotsifali grapes, an unoaked wine from Agiorgitiko grapes, such as Calliga Rubis, or even a rose to match the sweetness of the vegetables yet stand up to the savory taste.


One might ask, why bother with dessert when you can sip a chilled glass of Muscat from the island of Samos. Nonetheless, Greece makes some of the finest and most value­priced dessert wines in the world, so for this section, suggestions are for desserts that go with the two most popular Greek dessert wines.

Samos Muscat: a simple plate of fresh fruit, Manouri cheese drizzled with Greek honey, Greek pastry, such as Baklava or Kataifi or Galak­tobouriko, Greek Yogurt dressed with Greek honey and sprinkled with chopped walnuts or pistachios and little squirt of lemon, French pastry, apple pie, a ripe pear accompanied by goat cheese.

Mavrodaphne of Patras: anything chocolate, flavorful cheeses, cherries jubilee, pears poached in Mavrodaphne with a scoop of ice cream, karydopita, cherry pie. ...

Hungry yet?

(Posting date 22 November 2006)

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