Greek Wine & VINO Food

Visiting Greece was at the top of my wife’s bucket list. So, several years ago off we went to enjoy the sights, the beauty, the culture, the people, the history AND the foods & wines of Greece. It was truly a memorable trip, to say the least.

I already had quite a fascination with Greek wines The grapes are so very different & incredibly unique. It is a wine niche well worth exploring. The challenge is finding really good renditions, especially here in the islands. Our long time wine friend introduced us to the wines brought into the U.S. by Diamond Wine Imports & we were absolutely thrilled after tasting through their samples. We have since had a really cool time working with some of their wines with tastings & especially with various foods.

Our main contact for Diamond Wine Imports, Matt Reilly, made his first visit to Hawaii & to VINO to do a dinner on November 5th, starting at 6pm.

Chef Keith Endo has created dishes to pair with the wines and I know it will not only taste good, but will shed light on what can be. This should be quite an experience & hopefully will encourage you to check out Greek wines for home use.

FIRST COURSE

WINE: Douloufakis VidianoA dry, mesmerizingly mineral driven, remarkably light, crisp, completely refreshing Greek “country” styled white wine.  Here is another interesting and unique white wine from a small family owned winery. Cheryle and I made it a point to visit them in Dafnios on the island of Crete, just to see and walk their vineyards. They were absolutely breathtaking—white, calcaerous soiled, undulating hills, up to 1000 feet in elevation—wild and remote. The white soil is why the resulting white Vidiano (a native grape variety) is so incredibly mineral driven and uplifting. Plus we readily saw this wine offered at nearly every restaurant we dined at. We were able to get some for this dinner. Yay!  In short, the wine’s lemony edge & high pitched minerality, interacted with the food as a fresh squeeze of lemon would–accenting the scallop & tomato-red peppers, intertwining with the saffron-herbs & keeping the palate fresh & alive between bites.

Seared Bristol Bay Scallopssaffron-herb risotto & tomato-red pepper sauce

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SECOND COURSE

WINE: Domaine Skouras Moschofilero–Moschofilero is one of Greece’s top indigenous white wine grape varieties. We love its aromatics—white flower/honeysuckle with wildly tropical nuances and a very lemon-lime finish. Because it is a colored grape, it has to been grown and vinified with nurturing and care, to minimize bitterness and alcohol levels.  “This rendition is grown in Martinia of southern Greece at 2400 feet in elevation & very sandy soils. The vines are now at least 35 years in age. To produce a tasty, seamless, well balanced white wine like this, Giorgio Skouras uses free run juice for over half of the wine. No wonder it is good!”  While many would suggest that such a pork based dish, might suggest a pink or red wine, it really was this aromatic, slightly more viscous white wine that created magic.  During our visit & stay in Greece, I jumped at the chance to try Pork Souvlakis whenever I could.  I really would say this is typically a simple preparation, which a simple food station at a typical farmer’s market while on Crete resoundingly confirmed for me, as I watched him prepare it.  The pork was marinated for a short time in some in olive oil, then thrown on a grill.  Then slightly seasoned with salt & pepper.  Then sprinkled with some dried herbs–mostly oregano. At the last moment, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.  Then served.  It was the best rendition of our entire 2 + week jaunt through the country & various islands.  At a Farmer’s market!  That was the inspiration for this dishThe Moschofilero has enough weight for the pork AND it really was its aromatics which connected with the dish’s herbs & vegetable-harissa which created the synergistic electricity.  And, the wine’s acidity kept pace with the lemon herb vinaigrette.  Yes, this was quite a delightful, interesting pairing.

Grilled Marinated Pork Bellyvegetable-harissa couscous, Kalamata olives, arugula & lemon herb vinaigrette

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ENTREE

WINE: Domaine Karydas Naoussa–Here is a superb Greek red, crafted exclusively from the native Xinomavro grape variety in Naoussa within the Macedonia region further north. Xinomavro is highly regarded as one of Greek’s top two red grape varieties. This father and son team owns and farms 2.5 hectares of vineyard. Their winery is so small and totally hands on. This wine is actually the one that drew our attention to this importer and their wines. We love its authentic character, earthiness, wonderful savoriness & its more traditional minded approach & character. It has been years since we able to get the last allocation and we are most thankful that we were able to get some bottles to share on this night.  The most unforgettable, stirring facet of this traditional minded Greek red wine was its profound savoriness.  It really is devoutly & thankfully savory.  The paired dish is also really about savoriness too.  In this case, they deftly went hand in hand.

Chicken-Sausage “Stew”white beans, carrots, celery, tomatoes & bay leaf

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DESSERT

Flourless Chocolate Cakewith raspberry sorbet

 

This was some kind of dinner!

a completely different slant on wine & food pairing.

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