When pairing wine with Mediterranean dishes, knowing the basics of wine pairing and the common Mediterranean varieties will help to enhance your meal.
The Basics of Wine Pairing
The basic theory behind wine pairing is to select flavors that parallel one another. If you are eating strong, flavorful food, you’ll want a strong, flavorful wine to go with it. Alternatively, mild dishes are typically paired with subtle-flavored wines.
Rich and savory beef dishes are typically paired with rich, flavorful red wines like cabernets and zinfandels. Creamy pasta dishes like those from Northern Italy benefit from a chardonnay or a sauvignon blanc.
Acidic dishes like pasta marinara pair well with wines that are also high in acidity, like a dry riesling or a chianti. Intensely-acidic wines will overpower subtler dishes like fish or alfredo. Always try to match the acidity level of the wine to the acidity in your meal.
Red wines contain natural tannins that serve as a palate cleansing astringent. With white wines, the acidity achieves the same effect. Palate cleansing wines are meant to rinse the mouth and prepare it to enjoy the next bite.
Italy and Greece produce some of the world’s best wines. Among the best known native Greek-grape varieties are xinomavro (acid black) and agiorgitiko (Saint George). Popular wines derived from these powerful grapes are Katogi-Strofilia Fresco Averoff Red and Harlaftis Nemea Red Wine.
Quality Italian Reds are chiantis like Antinori Peppoli Chianti Classico, and amarones like Righetti Amarone. Popular whites include Stella Pinot Grigio and Saracco Moscato d’Asti.
Wine and Traditional Mediterranean Dishes
To pair wine with Mediterranean cuisine, follow the wisdom of matching lighter fare with white wines or light reds, and heavier food with stronger red wines.
Light salads like Caprese and Cypriot go well with moscatos, or lighter red wines like sangiovese and gamay. Blush wines like reisling and zinfandel are also appropriate choices as they pair well with popular balsamic and oil-based Mediterranean dressings.
Dishes like lamb, beef or veal would go best with a heavy red wine, such as a pinot noir or a merlot. Lighter seafood dishes, such as grilled salmon and lemon over rice, are best accompanied by wine varieties like chardonnay and pinot grigio, which are lighter on the palette.
If you prefer white wines over red, there are many Mediterranean seafood dishes that pair well with these.