With more than 300 varieties of grapes, Greece produces a broad spectrum of red and white wines that pair nicely with the region’s authentic cuisine. Matching wines with traditional foods like hummus, tzatziki, lamb and baklava enhances the natural characters of the ingredients. To pair Greek dishes, consider the aromas and tastes of the food and select a wine that will not overpower the flavors.
Balance the scale. Greek food is a traditionally heavy type of cuisine. Feta cheese is cured in salty brine, the yogurt is thick and high in fat, and meats like lamb and chicken are staples to Greek dishes like moussaka and souvlaki. To balance the taste scale, pair the food with lighter wines. You can actually see the color difference when you pour the wine into a glass. Lighter reds and whites have more transparency than their heavy counterparts.
Pair appetizers with whites. Greek salad is normally composed of romaine lettuce, cabbage, olives, capers, tomatoes, cucumbers and feta cheese. Other appetizers include hummus, tzatziki, grape leaves and fried squash. Pair these foods with a bright and zesty white wine like Athiri, which will bring out the acidity of the dressings and sauces. For sweeter appetizers, pair with a dry Debina or Savatiano that will balance the aftertaste.
Focus on sauces and sides. Chicken and lamb are not intrinsically heavy meats. However, when they are served with potatoes and topped with sauces full of butter and oil, they will taste more substantial. When pairing your entrees, consider how heavy or light the sauce and sides are. For heavier dishes, pair with a medium-bodied red like Xinomavro. For lighter fare, match with a full-bodied, rich Agiorgitiko or a deep, spicy Refosco.
Taste food without your eyes. Wine and food pairing is a subjective experience. Even though it is recommended to balance the heavy and light scale, only your taste buds can tell you what you prefer. To practice relying simply on your instincts, close your eyes before you take a bite of a dish. Note any striking characteristics like bitterness or sweetness. Try both a heavy and light wine and pay attention to the flavors that each brings out. You may find that you prefer the overwhelming nature of a heavy food and heavy wine.