Choose the perfect vintage to complement classic Greek cuisine.
Greece’s sunny skies and crystal seas make this Mediterranean country a great place to be during the chill of winter.
If a trip to Greece isn’t in the cards for you, the Maniotis family has brought a taste of Greece to Hilton Head Island with their popular restaurant, It’s Greek To Me. Greek food and wine, the harvest of this beautiful land, brings us much-needed warmth on a cool winter day.
Greek wine and food really connect with Dolmathes Avgolemono: grape leaves wrapped around herb-spiced beef and rice, topped with a lemon sauce. With grape leaves in the recipe, the perfect wine marries the taste of the grape leaves with the fruit of the wine. That choice is a white wine from the Halkidiki region of Greece, which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and the Greek grape Assyrtiko. Picking up on flavors of the grape leaves, this white wine grown in volcanic soils has flint and lemon flavors. Its bright lemon flavors also make it the perfect match for signature dishes like fried calamari.
One of the most well-known Greek-American foods is the Gyro.
It’s Greek to Me’s Gyro combines rotisserie-cooked herbed lamb and beef, served as a full meal or as a wrap. Tzatziki, a garlic, lemon and yogurt sauce, typically accompanies the gyro. The right wine pairing boosts the classic Greek flavors of herbed meats, lemon and garlic. These bold flavors never fight each other.
The wine needs to have some body, but still be light and fruity. Apelia, made with the pink-skinned Roditis grape, is grown throughout Greece and produces a rosé wine that is a perfect match. An oaked Chardonnay is also an excellent choice. Both wines also pair well with the Chicken Souvlaki, a grilled marinated chicken served with Tzatziki.
Greek comfort foods include moussaka and pastitsio.
These two meaty layered dishes are topped with a thick layer of creamy bechamel sauce and a dash of cinnamon or nutmeg.
Ziti noodles layer over Pastitsio, while eggplant and potatoes sit atop moussaka. A medium-bodied red wine with slight acidity cuts through the creamy bechamel. At the same time, it enhances the comfort flavors of these dishes with rich, smooth fruit.
The Kouros Nemea wine stands out. The mountains and valleys surrounding the small village of Nemea have been producing high-quality wine for centuries. This wine showcases the native Agiorgitiko grape, known for its cherry flavors and hints of nutmeg on the finish.
It’s Greek to Me also offers classic Retsina wine. This Greek wine dates back to ancient times. Pine resin was added to create an oily top coat to prevent the aging wine from spoiling in the hot, sunny climate. While this process is no longer necessary to prevent spoilage, modern Retsina is infused with pine resin during the fermentation process, giving it a unique pine taste. Retsina wine was heartily consumed alongside indigenous Greek food for centuries. So, depending on your taste, it could be the perfect match.
Try a glass for yourself and see!
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery
The perfect bottle of hand-crafted artisan wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Rd. Wine by the glass, cheese platters and $5 tastings are available Monday-Saturday from 12:30-5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. (843) 842-3141 or www.islandwinery.com.