Greek wines and food make a great combination on lunch or dinner tables. Whether in Greece or not, you can enjoy amazing wine and food pairings, and feel the harmony of different flavors composing.
In this post, I’ll take you through six different wine and food pairings in different restaurants. We’ll start our eating out tour in Greece and finish up in Canada.
Imagine you are in a Greek city in the middle of summer. The Mediterranean sun is chasing you around when you walk around to see the ancient sites all day long. You end up in a big square, which is full of restaurants with their wood tables and chairs outside, where the late afternoon sun is shaded with the long palm trees. Some local people have already started to order, random Greek sentences that you don’t understand a word sound like music…
1) White table wine from Limnos
This was exactly the atmosphere when we went to the restaurant Φούλ του μεζέ (Full Tou Meze) in Thessaloniki. In that local atmosphere, ordering a liter of white wine from Limnos was a decision that came naturally. This wine is kept in barrel in-house and served to tables in a wine jug with stemless glasses. It doesn’t specify the variety, but muscat-like aromas suggest it has some Muscat of Alexandria (locally known as Moschato Alexandrias) which grows intensively in this region, it’s very aromatic. It also has some barrel notes and the touch of oxidation that gives complexity, and the acidity stands out on the palate.
This table wine paired very well with the local Greek appetizers (meze) and dishes we chose from the menu. Our selection of cold mezes were some olives, a plate of homemade marinated anchovy and a plate of fava beans spread (also known as faba or broad beans) served with chopped onions and capers. The warm mezes were fried zucchini flowers filled with feta cheese, grilled Talagani cheese made with pure sheep milk from Messina. Finally, we had some seafood dishes; squid grilled on skewers and grilled octopus served on fava spread. They were all seasoned perfectly with herbs and, of course, olive oil.
The pairing was a good example of the type of the pairing “what grows together goes together”. The freshness in the mezes and seafood were complemented with the wine.
2) Red table wine from Nemea
We caught a similar local atmosphere in restaurant “To Elleniko” (το Ελληνικό) in Thessaloniki. We ordered a red table wine from Nemea, no grape variety was stated but it could be Agiorgitiko, the native red grape variety of the region.
From cold mezes we had some dolmadakia (stuffed grapevine leaves with rice and herbs), melitzanosalata (eggplant dip with walnuts) and again some fava spread. As a main dish we had grilled meatballs and kebap, which is grilled minced meat in skewers with yogurt sauce.
Classical table setting at the local restaurants was a paper table cover, and the wine was served with a wine jug and stemless glasses. All complemented the decoration of the restaurant and created that lovely Greek atmosphere. The wine, the food and the atmosphere composed a great harmony.
3) Malagouzia from Amyndeon
Let’s make a final stop in a restaurant in Thessaloniki before we leave. Ψαροταβέρνα Θερμαϊκός “Thermaikos Garden” was the name of the restaurant, it has a cozy looking interior and a lovely terrace outside, where we sat.
We ordered a bottle of Malagouzia from Alpha Estate located in northwestern Greece, to be more specific Florina region in Amyndeon. Malagouzia is a white grape variety that gives full bodied and aromatic wines. Prominent aromas of this wine were melon, orange zest, lemon, rose and honeysuckle. On the palate, it was creamy and had high alcohol, but still balanced with its acidity.
For the food pairing, we had grilled sardines, which were very fresh and crispy. Not only that, we also had octopus cooked with onions and tomato sauce, served on warm fava spread. The wine paired nicely with the crispiness of the fish, and the creaminess of the spread.
Now, we are leaving Thessaloniki, and traveling all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, and arriving in Montreal. Here, we are going to a restaurant that a Greek Uber driver suggested. Local people always give the best suggestions, and this time was not an exception.
4) Assyrtiko from Northern and Southern Greece
Assyrtiko is a white grape variety coming most likely from the island Santorini, but it’s also produced in the other wine growing regions of Greece, and shows very interesting results. On this occasion, we ordered two different Assyrtiko. First one is Areti from Biblia Chora winery, which is in Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) of Pangeon in Northern Greece. The second Assyrtiko is from Parparoussis Winery, located in PGI Achaia, which is situated in the Peloponnese region, in southern Greece. Trying the same grape variety grown in different regions is the best way to understand the diversity in terroir.
We paired these wines with a Greek meze plate – tzatziki, taramosalata and htipiti served with some toasted pita and raw veggies. Tzatziki is made with strained yogurt, garlic and cucumber, taramosalata with mullet roe and htipiti with roasted red peppers and feta cheese. All mezes had very good texture; creamy and tasty. We also had some crispy fried calamari, and grilled octopus. As served in Greece, it’s served on a warm fava spread. We approved the amazing harmony of these two flavours in two different continents.
Both made a great pairing with the starters, and it’s interesting to see the differences between these Assyrtiko.
5) Agiorgitiko from Northern Greece
Agiorgitiko is Greek’s most planted red variety, literally meaning Saint George’s grape. It’s a variety that can give different styles of wines depending on the location and winemaking techniques. On this opportunity, we had an Agiorgitiko called Areti from Ktima Biblia Chora, located in the village of Kokkinochori, Kavala. This wine is from 2010 vintage and aged in French oaks for a year, which added another layer of flavors on top its ripe red fruits.
We paired this wine with lamb chops served with a side dish of oven roasted Greek style potatoes and broccoli. The lamb chops were well cooked and juicy, they made a hard to forget pairing with this aged Agiorgitiko.
6) Blend of Vidiano and Plyto
A white blend of local varieties Vidiano and Plyto, produced in a winery called Rhous winery in Crete island. Both of these varieties are rare with only limited plantings found in Crete island. In the blend, Vidiano provides stone fruit aromas, while Plyto zesty flavours and freshness.
To pair this interesting blend, I chose a plate of grilled Mediterranean sea bream served with steamed crown broccoli. This fish traveled all the way down from Greece, passed the Atlantic Ocean to take its place on my plate. I appreciate the possibility of enjoying all the flavors we miss, even if we are very far away.
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