Which Greek wine goes best with stuffed tomatoes?

While salivating over a recipe from renowned Greek chef, Diane Kochilas, we wondered what wine to pair it with.  If you were in Italy, you might think a Barolo but in Greece a similar but more versatile choice would be Xinomavro (pronounced ksee-NOH- mah-vroh). This spicy red wine would be perfect with Diane’s stuffed tomatoes, peppers and grape leaves. When pairing food and wine, always match flavor to flavor, so in this case, the acidic and spicy flavors of the tomatoes will be perfect with Xinomavro.

Another grape to consider is Agiorgitiko (pronounced Ah- yor-YEE-te-ko). to make life easier for you some winemakers prefer using the name of the appellation, Nemea,). Agiorgitiko is the most widely planted red grape in Greece and perhaps, its most versatile. The flavors will depend on both the soil it is grown in and style in which it is made but it can range from soft and fruity to rich and tannic. However it is made, it goes well with any meat, vegetable or poultry dish.  Because of Agioritiko’s ubiquity, you’ll find it in most good wine stores.

While the recipe is rich with lots of flavors, it is vegetarian so we should consider white wines as well, as there is white wine in the sauce. This means it calls out for a crisp Assyrtiko, either oaked or unoaked.  An aromatic Moschofilero will also work well to complement the raisins and nuts in the dish.

Clearly, there are a lot of options, which is one of the great things about Greek wines. There are many styles and versions and since the Greeks are the first culture ever to think about food and wine going together, you can’t go wrong.

You’ll have to check out Diane Kochilas’ amazing Greek-style recipe for stuffed and roasted tomatoes, peppers and grape leaves. Among some of the delicious (and healthy) ingredients: crisp onions, sauteéd until soft and sweet, Carolina rice grown authentically in the northern part of Greece and lightly browned, pine nuts toasted to perfection, fresh mint leaves, a delicious Greek white wine like an Assyrtiko or Moschofilero, and a whole host of vegetables to be roasted in the oven until they are warm and soft and sweet. This could be just the dish for Xinomavro, Agiorgitiko, Assyrtiko or Moschofilero.

Pork Tenderloin with Honey and Ginger

The Wines of Greece website has some great recipes for pairing your next meal with Greek wine. Generally, red meat and red wine pair well together because the higher tannins in red wine contrast with the rich high fat content of the red meat. The higher acidity of white wine complements white meat in much the same way a splash of fresh citrus juice might. Flavorful white meats are to be matched with full-bodied white wines.

The flavor profile of a dish can often be much more complex than simply light or dark meat, and the wine pairing more so. How do you pair a dish with the sweetness of honey and the saltiness of soy sauce with dry, semi-dry and off-dry white wines? For a dish that is heavier on the savory/salty side, you could try a Greek Traminer or Gewurztraminer.

This recipe comes from Ettore Botrini who has mastered the art of creating unique food and wine pairings to help people enjoy one of the greatest pleasures in life: sharing food at a common table with those they love. His two-Michelin-star restaurant “Etrusco” is surrounded by a beautiful green garden, from which Ettore selects vegetables, flowers and fruits to create his menu. As a result, the food served is not unlike a fine wine: simple, subtle and bursting with natural Greek flavors, like this Pork Tenderloin with Honey and Ginger.

We love this spicy beef ravioli

How about a wine that’s perfect for a spicy beef ravioli?  Soon after Renato Mekolli emmigrated to Athens at the age of 10, he started working as a dishwasher to help his family. One day, he accidentally broke some of the dishes that he was cleaning. Assuming he was fired, Mekolli became upset and left the restaurant. However, the chef at the restaurant had recognized Mekolli’s natural culinary talents, sought him out and encouraged him to go to culinary school. Now, many years later, Mekolli is an award-winning chef at Vassilenas, an historic Greek restaurant in Athens.

One of Mekolli’s signature dishes is fresh homemade ravioli stuffed with beef and spicy red sauce. The recipe is as simple as it is delicious: shells made from flour, eggs, olive oil, salt and pepper, and an oxtail filling with carrots, onions, garlic, tomatoes, red wine and seasoning.

When pairing wine with beef ravioli and red sauce, Mekolli suggests a complex, acidic wine such as Xinomavro from Amyndeo, Naoussa, Goumenissa or Rapsani.

Homemade ravioli is always delicious, but when paired with Greek wine, it is divine. Be sure to check your local wine shop for Xinomavro to take your ravioli dinner to the next level.

Find the recipe here.

The sublime wonders of Diane Kochilas’ spanakopita lasagna

If you’ve never heard of Diane Kochilas, you just haven’t been watching enough television.

The queen of healthy Greek cuisine, Diane is a chef who has been on “The Today Show,” “Martha Stewart,” the Food Network, CNN and more – in addition to starring in Greece’s number one cooking show, “What’s Cooking Today, Mom?” – preaching the wonders of her authentic, seasonal, delicious Greek food.

She’s won awards for her cookbooks, she regularly consults on Ivy League school menus, and she and her husband host a yearly food retreat on the idyllic Greek island of Ikaria, where people basically never age – so when Diane says she has a favorite recipe, we sit up and listen.

Spanakopita and lasagna aren’t often said in the same breath, but this better-together recipe gave us one of those a-ha moments – we can’t believe we didn’t think of it first!

A traditional filling of spinach, onions, feta and other Greek cheeses gets layered with lasagna noodles, then smothered with creamy Béchamel sauce. A little nutmeg sprinkled to taste, and we’re goners for this cross-cultural twist on an old favorite.

Check out the full recipe at Diane’s website, and don’t forget to sign up for her email list for more authentically amazing Greek recipes like this one.

Aglaia’s Moussaka

There are many versions of Moussaka that come from the countries that historically were part of the Ottoman Empire but Greece is best known for this dish and for good reason.  Chef and author, Aglaia Kremezi has provided a recipe that was handed down to her from her mother.  We all know that moms usually know best and with the weather getting cooler, Moussaka is a great dish to serve to friends and family. Continue reading Aglaia’s Moussaka

Try This Lamb Burger from Chef Michael Psilakis

If you’ve seen Chef Michael Psilakis on TV or eaten in one of his restaurants, you’ll want to try this scrumptious lamb burger. It’s a Greek hamburger with the flavors of Cypriot cuisine. If you want to grill burgers this Memorial Day with great taste, this has your name all over it. Try it with a glass of Agioritiko or Xinomavro (think spicier cabs). Continue reading Try This Lamb Burger from Chef Michael Psilakis