Sunday, March 21, 2010

Greek wines go global

Many associate wines with their country of origin and as such with the local foods and dishes. A nice Chianti is always associated with pasta arrabbiata and Prosecco with antipasti but Riesling can only go with German cheese and sausages. But the versatile taste of wines can easily be matched with international cuisines and dishes from all over the world.

Greek wines originate in South Eastern Mediterranean region. A large variety of grapes are produced in the islands of Santorini, Cephalonia, Lemnos, Rhodes and Crete but also in mainland areas as Nemea (Peloponnese), Mantinia (Peloponnese) and Naousa (Macedonia). But how would you pair them to impress not only your friends or guests but also to please your palate? Here are some ideas for the table.

Assyrtiko, the top quality vine originated in Santorini is a grape that produces age-worthy white wines of honeysuckle and citric aromas with good acidity. It pairs perfectly with grilled sea-food like shrimps, muscles and calamari but also more oily fish like salmon (Assyrtiko, Domaine Porto Carras 2009, Assyrtiko Argyros 2008, Estate Argyros 2007, Assyrtiko 2008 Ktima Pavlidis).

Malagousia is the new type of Assyrtiko. With peach and nectarine aromas is of medium acidity, fresh, light and crispy. It is the perfect wine for aperitifs and starters and pairs nicely with numerous dishes of Mediterranean specialties (Malagousia 2008, Domaine Porto Carras).

Moschofilero is a thick-skinned grape that is used to make very aromatic whites and roses. It is the only grape allowed in the OPAP region of Mantinia in the Peloponnese. It is paired beautifully with spicy Asian cuisine. Try it with a Thai spicy beef salad, Thai spicy noodles or Malaysian chicken satay (Mantinia 2008, Domaine Spiropoulos).

Xinomavro is the most common red grape planted in Greece; its name literally means “acid black”. The wines, when young, can be harsh but age very well. They also tend to be soft and spicy with good acidity. They can be aromatic fresh whites, aromatic or sparkling roses but also strong reds, good with roasted red meat and rich sauces. When aged, it is suitable for fatty French cuisine but also for dishes of the Basque region (Uranos 2007, Thimiopoulos Vineyards).

Savatiano is a widely planted grape variety particularly resistant to drought and is the primary grape in retsina. If picked early, it can produce well-balanced dry whites. Roditis is a late-ripening slightly pink–skinned grape traditionally grown in Peloponnese. The variety makes wither white or rose wines and is often blended with Savatiano to make retsina. Retsina is not the easiest wine for many but depending on the grapes it comes from (usually Savatiano blended with Roditis or Assyrtiko and Roditis), it can be served with fresh and light fish dishes and why not, with sushi and sashimi. (Retsina NV, Domaine Vassiliou)

For more information about Greek wines, click here: