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Nov 2, 2006 11:56 PM

wine pairing for moroccan inspired dish

hi chowhounds wine-os.
can anyone reccomend the best varietal to pair with a braised chicken dish (dark meat) with a flavor profile that emphasizes cumin, tomato, orange and caramelized onion?

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    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      not sweet at all. the orange is in the form of some zest and some juice but is contrasted with lemon juice as well. spices include cumin, coriander, paprika, a little cinnamon, a little ginger and a hit of cayenne. the tomatoes and onions add whatever sweetness there is but it is not a prevailing flavor.

      1. re: cheflauren

        In that case, I'd think of a not too heavy northern Rhone, maybe a Gigondas or Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Or if you prefer New World, a Thackry or Guenoc petite sirah, or Australian shiraz.

    2. I actually did a large experimentation of wine tasting with Moroccan food a year or so ago. I cooked four or five various dishes and literally opened up 20 (yes, TWENTY!) bottles; ten red and ten white.

      I was going by varietal vs. producer. I opened a CabSav, Tempranillo, Merlot, Pinot, CabFranc, Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese, Malbec, and Rioja for the reds. For the whites, I opened a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Black, Roussanne, Marsanne, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Gewurtz, Gruner Veltliner, Verdicchio, and a Viognier. I also opened a Rose, but don't remember the varietal. I anticipated that red-wise, I would go with a Pinot and white-wise, a Sauvignon Blanc. Boy,was I wrong!

      Red-wise, Zinfandel won out with relatively spicy dishes that complemented complicated spices.

      Overall, however, a Roussanne was the clear winner. It is complex without being astringent or sweet, layered without being oakey or buttery and, with a slight oily feeling on the tongue, cut through the various spices without fighting with them.

      Now, when I cook Moroccan or go to a Moroccan restaurant,

      1. My reply in this thread applies here as well:

        1. We just had a wine tasting with Morroccan food... 5 varietals basically: Whites- Riesling (kabinett) & a Roussanne/Marssane blend (75/25) Reds- Zinfandel (ridge geyserville 97 no less), Pinot Noir (a 76 and 78 burgundy), and a Rhone blend (chateau fonsallet reserve 1990).

          The dinner featured some moroccan appetizers, a lamb tangine, a couscous, a chicken bistella, and a veggie dish.

          Hands down the most consistently intersting wine with the meal was the riesling. After that, both the roussane and zinfandel worked. The Pinot and the Rhone were fairly dreadful. I recall watching a couple at the next table with their pricey bottle of Silver Oak Cabernet thinking "what a waste".

          For your chicken dish as described my first recommendation walking away would be riesling.

          I actually got the wine ideas from other Chowhound posts AND from the Kasbah restaurant website (a famous moroccan place in san francisco). The wine steward at the kasbah had written on the website that riesling was his go-to wine. I'd have to agree with him whole-heartedly.

          With one proviso... the Roussane we had wasn't the most fruity example. If you have a super-honeyed roussane then that might be right up there too. But riesling is so much more dependable. For the overall meal, as a red wine the zinfandel was a great match. But in your case you're talking about one specific chicken dish and IMO a white is going to be a better match there.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Chicago Mike

            The Kasbah restaurant in San Francisco changed its name to Aziza. Is that the place you're talking about?


            Pinot noir and Rhone-style blends can be great matches for Moroccan food, but you want them young and spicy. Old reds seem like a really bad idea.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              Yes it is.... the page where they specifically discuss riesling is the following:

              I honestly don't think the age of the burgundies (or rhones) would make that much difference. I'm familiar with their flavors and the ones we had were fairly "tipico" in taste, perhaps a bit softer for the time in the bottle...

              On the other hand, at 10 years the zinfandel could be considered quite old, and yet it matched the majority of the moroccan dishes splendidly.

              1. re: Chicago Mike

                Most zinfandels are old and tired if not downright undrinkable at nine years, but a properly cellared nine-year-old Ridge Geyserville (blend with 74% zinfandel) will still have youthful flavors.

                The two-year-old Richaud Côtes du Rhône on Aziza's list is a radically different wine than a 16-year-old Rayas.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I've had the Richaud Cotes du Rhone at Aziza perhaps twice, including on my last visit, and think it is a very good match with the food, particularly when dining with hubby, who tends to order richer dishes and who prefers red...

          2. In addition to the Riesling a dry Gewürztraminer would work well.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Sam Salmon

              yes, probably would... and a "not so dry" would be great too. I notice it's prominent on the winelist at Aziza. Scheurbe too.

              1. re: Chicago Mike

                Some of the dishes are quite sweet, and match better with off-dry wines.