Ancient sparkling wine paired with a Greek meal inspired by an ancient diet.
At one time, Greece was epicenter of the world, and we still study and refer to ancient Greek gods and philosophers today such as Socrates, Aristotle, Athena, Apollo, and Zeus.
Now? The country seems to be in near ruins.
Plunged into a debt crisis in 2010, over ⅓ of the country lives in poverty and is held by a veritable noose at the mercy of the EU. (Yes, you can have refinancing on your 341 billion Euro loan...maybe, we'll see.)
Oh how the tides have turned since the Golden Age of Greece in 5th and 4th century BC.
While Greece is slowing recovering economically, wine may be part of their rebirth. Vines planted in the 1970s are making their way to the rest of the world via wines made from native grape varietals.
God gave to mortals the grapevine, because without wine, love would not exist. nor any other joy in people's lives.Euripedes, ancient Greek poet & playwright, 485 BCE–406 BCE
Since I don't often try Greek wine, I thought I would pair my wine with traditional flavors from Greece: oregano, lemon, seafood, and lots and lots of olive oil.
Because the wine tradition stems all the way back to the Stone Age, I thought it would be fun to pair with a paleo inspired meal.
Based on foods that might have been eaten in the Paleolithic era, before farming methods emerged. Composed of lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, the diet reflects foods that could be obtained by hunting and gathering
For the most part, it was very easy to adapt some common Greek dishes to the diet, except for beans because they contain phytic acid and lectin that block the intake of certain nutrients.
Almost Paleo Fish Dinner
Green Olive Greek Salad (without feta cheese)
Gigante Beans - also known as butter beans, I simmered these with oregano, plum tomatoes, and olive oil. Beans are not paleo, though because they have phytic acids.
Steamed Manila Clams with Fennel & Onion
Greek Crispy Potatoes and Caramelized Garlic - lemon scented and roasted in olive oil
Roasted Whole Rock Cod with Fresh Herb Rub - parsley, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, olive oil
2010 Domaine Glinavos Sparkling Zitsa
100% Debina from Zitsa, $25
Made in the traditional method, I found an aged sparkler made from the Debina grape, an indigenous Greek varietal from the region of Zitsa.
Grown in a microclimate between the mountains of Pindos and the wind currents from the Kalamas River, mild winters and cool summers make this an ideal place to grow this white grape.
Founded by Lefteris Glinavos, Domaine Glinavos is one of the boutique wineries that emerged in the wave of winemakers from the 1970s. He studied in Bordeaux and made his way back to his native Epirus in Greece to see what modern winemaking techniques could do with the grapes in the region.
Visual: bronze, golden taupe, wispy bubble, really pretty
Aroma: faint, maybe some peach
Taste: baked pear, warm spices, not super acidic, more like apple cider
The bubbles danced so nicely with all the flavors in the food. It probably worked best with the Greek salad, accentuating the apple/pear notes and just killer with the green olives.
Of course, the bubbles liked the salty clams and fennel. The fresh herbs in the fish brought more floral flavors in the wine.
Yes too to the crispy potatoes, since bubbles seem to always work so well with creaminess.
Not the best with the gigante beans. The tomato sauce, heaviness of the dish was too much for the delicacy of bubbles.
However, overall, the food and wine felt harmonious, and one might say even ancient but slowly coming back into style and making their way into the modern world.
More Greek Wine & Food Pairings
Learn more about Greek wine from the Wine Pairing writers here:
- Wendy is tasting Assyrtiko from Santorini paired with Greek Mac and Cheese at A Day in the Life on the Farm.
- Camilla is Waiting for the Temperature Drop: Still Eating al Fresco and Pouring Moschofilero at Culinary Adventures with Camilla.
- Andrea asks Do You Know Fokiano? at The Quirky Cork.
- David is having a Greek Spaghetti Recipe and Wine Pairing at Cooking Chat.
- Cindy is exploring how Xinomavro Thrives in Naoussa Where Key Elements Define Its Character at Grape Experiences.
- Gwendolyn is pairing 2 Greek Wines with Grilled Eggplant, Black Cod, Lamb Kebabs at Wine Predator.
- Nicole is showcasing Three Off-the-Beaten-Path Pairings for Holiday Cheese & Charcuterie Platters at Somm’s Table.
gwendolyn alley says
yum! We had clams last night and now I wish I'd had that sparkling wine! Thanks for hosting! I'm inspired to do more with Greek wines for sure. Just need to find them!
Interesting wine! I've never heard of the grape. Delicious spread, too. Glad I'm not trying to do a paleo diet b/c I love beans, that dish looks great.
Nicole Ruiz-Hudson says
How funny -- my wine was from the same winery but a very different style. So fun to read about yours as a comparison. This meal looks amazing!
I love the sound of all these Domaine Glinavos everyone has found! I hope I can find them the next time I'm in Athens. Thank you for hosting this month!