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Wine pairing for Middle Eastern food...Bordeaux?

King B Aug 7, 2005 02:27 PM

We are having my brother and his wife over tonight and will be having a Middle Eastern food fest (we all had the same craving today). I've never really thought about pairing a wine with shawerma and kibbeh - Bordeaux? Shiraz? Would love to hear thoughts and/or experience.

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  1. m
    Melanie Wong RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 02:44 PM

    Here's a link to a menu and wine list for a dinner party I hosted a couple years ago that might give you a few ideas. The Mourvedre grape variety has a texture that is akin to Bordeaux and a flavor profile of meatiness, spice and dark fruit that is similar to Syrah. So your instincts are on the right track.

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Melanie Wong
      Melanie Wong RE: Melanie Wong Aug 7, 2005 03:08 PM

      Here's another dinner menu for ideas. Afghanistan is actually Central Asia rather than Middle East, but our menu drew from much of the same spice palette.

      I love the Rhone grape varieties with lamb and this spicing --- Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier, and Roussane. A 2001 Cotes du Rhone would be fun and lively with your meal, likewise a Faugeres from the Languedoc. Or a new world Rhone-relative, such as Petite Sirah or Pinotage. A fruity Zinfandel, if you can find one that's under 15% alcohol, such as Nalle or Blockheadia. What these wines have in common are ripe fruit flavors, spicy notes, full-body, and medium to high acidity.

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    2. t
      Tugboat RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 02:50 PM

      Wines from the Rhone.

      1. k
        Karl S. RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 03:05 PM

        I agree with Cotes du Rhone, or Zinfandel.

        1. k
          King B RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 04:55 PM

          Holy cow...what great menus to go with such a wonderful range of wines! I'd love to know where you got those recipes - I really like the combinations of flavors in mideast/cent. asian cooking. I just dug up the recipe I have for fatteh bel djaje and thanked my lucky stars...it's one of my favorites and thought it was lost forever (one copy, skimpy paper, etc.). Do you have a favorite source/cookbook for these types of recipes?

          For our meal, we'll shoot for Cotes du Rhone or Syrah. Sounds like the the Zins I have are all too bold.

          2 Replies
          1. re: King B
            Melanie Wong RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 08:37 PM

            If you noticed the dates of those dinners, they were inspired by currents events and US military actions in those countries. I recall one comment at the Afghani dinner from a friend who had her first taste of these flavors - "if this is what the Afghani people are used to, no wonder they don't want to eat our MREs!" (g)

            The Mespotamian/Iraqi recipes were from various cookbooks. When I had settled on a theme for the dinner, I went to the library (in this case, the Sonoma County library system), did a search on all the Middle Eastern cookbooks, and requested the ones that sounded interesting. There are some interesting older books in the system with more traditional recipes. Wish I could remember the cookbook, but one old one had Syrian, iraqi and Lebanese versions of the same dish. I would pick the Iraqi one whenever possible. Claudia Roden's books were helpful for this too.

            For the Afghani dinner, the recipes came from online sources. I just scanned a bunch of recipe sites. When there were more than one recipe to choose from, I usually picked the one with the most ingredients and steps, feeling that it would be the most authentic and the least dumbed down for modern cooks. My recollection is that these were often from British sources.

            It was a fun challenge to assemble the recipes for our group (I had help with the cooking), and to match it up with a suitable wine theme. Because there are no traditional pairings, you don't have to follow any rules and can make up your own matches.

            Please let us know what wine you ultimately tried and how to worked out for you.

            Oh, and please post your recipe on the Home Cooking board. I'd love to see it.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              King B RE: Melanie Wong Aug 8, 2005 12:05 AM

              Can't thank you enough for all of the ideas. I will hit the library for some sources. And I did notice the dates and wondered if world events had played a part - your club sounds really interesting, and a lot of fun.

              I've attached below the URL my original fatteh bel djaje post here on CH, in which missmasala somehow came up with the exact recipe I was looking for. (I had been googling this recipe - and CH - for months trying to find it. Hence my search for the hard copy. Tonight, of course, it was at the top of the search results.)

              You'll notice that this recipe, like the ones you ended up choosing, has a lot of steps. Seems to me your feeling is right regarding authenticity - you'll see from her post that it's a pretty direct source. It's worth a try, believe me.

              Always enjoy your posts. Thanks again for the tips!

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

          2. p
            Pantagruel RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 05:44 PM

            Sidi Brahim!

            (If you can get it.)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Pantagruel
              Melanie Wong RE: Pantagruel Aug 7, 2005 08:14 PM

              But of course! And perhaps even more tuned into the flavors of the Levant, Chateau Musar from Lebanon.

              Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            2. k
              King B RE: King B Aug 7, 2005 11:35 PM

              We had a delicious dinner of shawerma and kibbe, with which I served a 2001 Vignobles Jean Royer Chateauneuf du Pape (Prestige). Perfect. Didn't taste young at all. In fact, I dare say it was great. I decanted it about 30 mins. prior to dinner, and everyone loved it.

              Thanks to all for the feedback, and Melanie - I must say you are are true CH asset. A fountain of knowledge, as it were. I will post that recipe over on Home Cooking post-haste. Hope you like it!

              2 Replies
              1. re: King B
                nja RE: King B Aug 8, 2005 07:59 PM

                I didn't see this thread until it was too late, but here's an idea for next time...

                I was recently in Turkey and a few of the Greek Islands just off the coast: Rhodes, Kos, and Samos. The wines in Turkey were terrible, so there's no help there. But in Greece we drank a lot of good and very inexpensive wine. Just about every tavern served carafes of wines that had been made by letting the grapes (usually unique local varieties) raisin in the sun for a few days or weeks between picking and fermentation. When done well, the result are wines with an almondy, dried-fruit character. They made wines of that style with both red and white grapes, as well as dry, off-dry, and sweet sugar levels. They went really well with the food, and the nutty/pruney characters echoed the intense heat and sunshine of that part of the world. I liked the dry whites with vegetable and seafood dishes, the dry reds with meat, the off-dry whites with honey-based desserts, and the sweet of either color all on their own as apertifs or digestifs. I found that Samos wines were generally best of those three islands, though there were some good ones in each area.

                Unfortunately, little of these wines are exported off the islands. I haven't gotten around to trying the wines I see for sale in the U.S.; for all I know those that are exported may not be worth buying. It may be easier to try simulate them with reliable wines of similar styles made elsewhere: white ports from Portugal (or from the Trentadue Winery in Sonoma), the dry oxidized white wines of Spain like those made by Vina Tondonia, and, perhaps the most famous "raisined" wine in the world, the red wines of Amarone in Italy.


                1. re: nja
                  ericf RE: nja Aug 12, 2005 01:58 AM

                  For the sweet type, the Commandaria wines of Cyprus may be very close to what you sampled. I haven't tried any Greek wines of the type you descibe, but I had a nice glass of Commandaria St. Nicholas last year. I don't know too much about it otherwise, but it had a very nice port-like raisiny nuttiness. Weimax seems to be offering it in its tasting room and Arlequin has Commandaria St. John which seems to be much more widely available. I don't know if it's any good.

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