Greek Food: A World of Irresistible Flavors
Greece might be a family holiday favorite for its crystal-clear blue waters, sandy beaches, and crazy pre-pandemic nightlife, but it is also home to some of the world’s finest ingredients. In fact, Greece may not have as complex cuisine as fellow Mediterranean countries, namely Italy, Spain, and Morocco, but still, it has an abundance of equally mouthwatering food. If you ever visit the country or want to taste a bit of Greece at home, select any of the following traditional dishes:
A Greek favorite, Moussaka is the iconic dish of Greece, even though it is commonly found in other Mediterranean and Balkan countries, as well. It is based on layers of sautéed aubergines, fried potatoes, minced beef, pork, or lamb, tomatoes, onion, and baking spices topped with béchamel and grated cheese.
Gyros and Grilled Meat
Greeks love their grilled meats almost as much as Americans. In fact, they are masters of spit-roasted and charcoal-grilled foods meats. Gyros or souvlaki, delicious chunks of skewered pork or chicken, are served with chopped tomatoes and red onions in pitta bread with tzatziki or mayo-mustard sauce.
Another traditional dish, dolmades vary from region to region, as each household has its own version. In general, dolmades consist of vine leaf parcels stuffed with minced meat with rice (long-grain or basmati). However, if you are a vegetarian, do not worry. Dolmades also come in vegetarian versions, with rice and herbs, such as oregano, fennel, dill, and thyme.
Greeks are fond of their dips, so when in Greece, expect to encounter diverse appetizers like tzatziki (yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, and olive oil), fava (split pea purée), and melitzanosalata (smoked aubergine purée). Taramosalata is another favorite Greek dip made with fish roe. Creamy, this dip is based on pink or white fish roe, with a potato and bread base.
The iconic salad of Greece is basically a mix of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, capers, and Feta cheese in virgin olive oil. Simple as it may be, it is incredibly delicious and healthy. And super easy to prepare at home, with just a bunch of common vegetables.
What Wines Pair Well With Greek Food?
Hands-down, with Greek food, you have to serve domestic Greek wine. Why? Because Greece is an Old-World wine-making country, which has crafted wine for over a thousand years. With over 350 domestic grape varieties, it is easy to understand that for the best Greek food wine pairing, you do not have to look elsewhere. So let’s focus our search solely on Greece – the land of the mythical Twelve Olympians:
Almost exclusively cultivated in Nemea of the Peloponnese region, Agiorgitiko is vibrant, juicy, and very fruit-forward. It boasts aromas and flavors of red and dark berries and touches of licorice, pepper, cocoa, and charred wood (if aged). Perfect for Keftedes (meatballs), moussaka, and pastitsio.
Xinomavro wines are tannic, aromatic, and with crisp acidity, perfect for fat cuts. Xinomavro is great with lamb, grilled steaks, game meat, or wild mushroom risotto with grated Parmesan flakes and aged cheese, Cheddar and Gouda included.
Santorini’s prestigious grape variety, Assyrtiko wines are crispy and refreshing. On top of this, they show a solid amount of ripe stone fruit and a welcoming effervescence. Assyrtiko is amazing with seafood, grilled or oven-baked fish, and sardines. It also complements Greek salad with Feta, zucchini, and beets with green onions, among others.
Malagouzia wines are delicious, brimming with citrus, peach and occasionally tropical fruits. They are easy-going and are a staple when Greeks get together for Sunday lunch. Pair a Malagouzia with grilled calamari, sea bream, or chicken gyros sandwich.
Grown especially in the Peloponnese region, Moschofilero pairs incredibly with grilled chicken on skewers (kotopoulo souvlaki), baked Feta with honey, tomatoes, and bell peppers (Bouyiourdi).
Best White Wines With Greek Food
Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini
- Winery — Domaine Sigalas
- Country/Region — Greece, Aegean Sea, Cyclades, Santorini
- Type — Santorini White
- Aroma — Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Grapefruit, Lemon, Tangerine, Peach, Apricot, Guava
- Grapes — Assyrtiko
- Taste — Pineapple, Raspberry, Cherry, Pear, Nectarine, Cinnamon Spice, Flint, Wet Stones
- Alcohol Content — 14.2%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Greek Food, Grilled Sea Bream, Octopus, Scallops, Roast Chicken, Asparagus, Feta, Haloumi
Taste of Greece
If you have to taste a single Greek white wine, you need to experience Sigala’s Assyrtiko. With grapes grown in basket trained Old Vines (Kouloura) aged 60 years on average and tended in volcanic ash, black lava, and pumice soils, Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko Santorini is extraordinarily complex.
Chalky, mineral-driven sensations emerge as you uncork this bottle, alongside hints of honeysuckle, orange blossom, grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine. Nuances of peach, apricot, and guava are not uncommon, as well. On the palate, this Assyrtiko is powerful, showcasing flavors of pineapple, raspberry and cherry, mingled with pear, nectarine, and cinnamon spice. An uplifting minerality of flint and wet stones join the moderate effervescence. Moderate finish, which gets longer as it evolves in the glass.
A Pioneer in Organic Viticulture
Founded in 1991 by Paris Sigalas, Christos Markozanes, and Yiannis Toundas, Domaine Sigalas is located in Santorini, the famous Greek island of the Aegean Sea. In the beginning, Sigalas made his wine at home, but in 1998, he built an aging and bottling unit. Since 1994, he has adopted organic viticulture and has been committed to the production of high-quality Assyrtiko, blending innovation with tradition and experience. Possibly the best white wine with Greek food.
Porto Carras Malagouzia
- Winery — Porto Carras
- Country/Region — Greece, Macedonia, Chalkidiki, Sithonia
- Type — Greek Malagouzia
- Aroma — Pear, Apple, Grapefruit, Wet Stone, Flint, Peach, Apricot
- Grapes — Malagouzia
- Taste — Pineapple, Mango, Passion Fruit, Mint, Honey, Bergamot, Caramel, Smoke
- Alcohol Content — 13.5%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Greek Food, Red Snapper, Halibut, Fish Soup, Seafood Orzo, Pesto, Sautéed Zucchini, Graviera
Exotic and refined, this Malagouzia is characterized by aromas of citrus, stone fruit, and minerals. Rich and dense in the mouth, the wine displays flavors of tropical fruit, moderate acidity, and a zesty, welcoming finish.
Highly aromatic fragrances of pear, apple, and grapefruit combine with wet stones, flint, and gentle notes of peach and apricot to form the bouquet. Medium-bodied, Porto Carras Malagouzia has ripe flavors of pineapple, mango, and passion fruit. On top of this, the mid-palate is graced by tastes of mint, honey, and bergamot. A certain oakiness persists throughout the lengthy finish, where lingering elements of caramel and smoke dominate.
A Historical Wine Estate
One of the historic wine estates in Greece, Domaine Porto Karras lies on an amphitheater-like region on the Sithonia Peninsula in Chalkidiki, Northern Greece, near the grassy Mt. Meliton. Since 2000, the Domaine has been constantly modernizing its premises, acquiring modern wine-making equipment, such as a pneumatic press, stainless steel tanks with double walls, automatic control fermentation temperature, and pre-fermentation extraction vessels.
The estate has planted more than 800 acres of vineyards in different terroir. The most planted grape varieties are Malagouzia Limnio, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Viognier, Chardonnay, Mavrotragano, and Mavrodaphne.
Tselepos Classic Moschofilero Mantinia
- Winery — Ktima Tselepos
- Country/Region — Greece, Peloponnese, Arkadia, Mantinia
- Type — Peloponnese White
- Aroma — Honeysuckle, Rose, Jasmine, Grapefruit, Lemon, Nectarine
- Grapes — Moschofilero
- Taste — Apple, Pineapple, Guava, Apricot, Honey, Wet Stone, Mint, Lemongrass, Thyme, Mint
- Alcohol Content — 12.5%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Greek Food, Sea Bass, Fried Calamari, Seafood Pasta, Fried Chicken, Carpaccio, Aged Caciovallo, Provola
Elegant and refined, Tselepos Classic Moschofilero Mantinia has an alluring nature and dynamic nose of florals and citrus. Fresh and still polished on the palate, the wine packs flavors of tropical and stone fruit. Impressive and expressive, elegant and refined, the wine opens with vibrant aromas of roses, honeysuckle, and jasmine. Fragrances of grapefruit, lemon, and nectarine persist on the nose, too, especially after a few swirls.
An aromatic mineral-driven core concludes the bouquet. The palate is fruit-forward, with flavors of apple, pineapple, guava, and apricot dominating. In addition, tastes of tangerine and passion fruit interlace with hints of honey and wet stones, offering extra depth. Gentle touches of mint, lemongrass, and thyme combine harmonically, driving into the moderate aftertaste.
Leaving a Proud Mark on Greek Wine
In 1989, Yannis Tselepos and his wife Amalia decided to create something new in the Greek wine scene: Constantly high-end wine on par with international wineries. Today, 30 years later, they have fulfilled their vision for Ktima Tselepos by producing irresistible wines, leaving their mark firmly on Greek wine.
Best Red Wines With Greek Food
Costa Lazaridi Oenotria Land Cabernet Sauvignon – Agiorgitiko
- Winery — Costa Lazaridi
- Country/Region — Greece, Macedonia, Drama
- Type — Greek Cabernet Sauvignon
- Aroma — Blackberry, Cherry, Raspberry, Cocoa, Pepper, Charred Wood, Vanilla Spice
- Grapes — Cabernet Sauvignon
- Taste — Violet, Cinnamon Spice, Plum, Bramble, Licorice, Prune, Fig, Raisin, Smoke, Soil
- Alcohol Content — 14.5%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Greek Food, Roast Beef, Meatloaf, Beef Burgers, Venison, Hare, Asian, Indian, Kaseri
A highly expressive Cabernet Sauvignon – Agiorgitiko blend with aromas of chocolate, coffee, red berries, and pepper. Medium-to-full bodied. Touches of flowers, spices, and dark, juicy fruit join the refreshing acidity in the mouth, captivating wine fans.
Perfumed with aromas of blackberry, cherry, raspberry, and cocoa which surface and define the bouquet next to a core of pepper, charred wood, and vanilla spice. As the wine flows into the mouth, tastes of violets blend with cinnamon spice, plum, brambles, and licorice. Additionally, hints of prune, fig, and raisins meet the fine-grained tannins before concluding in a smoky and earth-driven aftertaste.
The Realization of a Vision
Established in 1986, when Costa Lazaridis founded the winery in Xiropotomatos, on Mt. Falakro in Drama, Northern Greece, Domaine Costa Lazaridi has been known for producing high-quality Greek wines. Since the 1970s, Costa Lazaridis believed that Drama, his homeland, could produce high-end wines and compete against prestigious worldwide wineries. This conviction was the basis of his vision and, today, almost 40 years later, is reinforced by confirmation of consumers and wine experts worldwide. Sounds like the best red wine with Greek food, doesn’t it?
Thymiopoulos Naoussa Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro
- Winery — Thymiopoulos
- Country/Region — Greece, Macedonia, Imathia, Naoussa
- Type — Naoussa Red
- Aroma — Raspberry, Cherry, Strawberry, Mint, Eucalyptus, Thyme
- Grapes — Xinomavro
- Taste — Redcurrant, Bramble, Licorice, Dried Soil, Mushroom, Leather, Smoke
- Alcohol Content — 13%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Greek Food, Dry-aged Steak, Roast Chicken, Mushroom Risotto, Brie, Aged Graviera, Gruyère
Vibrant and pure, this Xinomavro perfumes nicely, displaying nuances of red fruit, mint, and dried herbs. Approachable but also complex on the palate, the wine reminds of a blend of Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Moderate in acidity with a long finish, Thymiopoulos Naoussa Jeunes Vignes de Xinomavro has good aging potential.
Bright aromas of raspberry, cherry, and strawberry emerge on the bouquet, blended with subtle but welcoming traces of mint, eucalyptus, and thyme. In the mouth, the wine shows elegance with flavors of plum, redcurrant, brambles, and licorice. Tastes of dried soil and mushroom are also commonly identified, while a touch of leather and smoke contribute complexity. The acidity is moderate and offers freshness, while the tannins are dusty and soft. The finish is lengthy and oak-driven.
Sustainable and Meticulous Viticulture
The Thymiopoulos family has been involved in grape-growing for many generations. However, Apostolos Thymiopoulos, the head of the Thymiopoulos Naoussa, was the first to vinify the family vineyards. He believes in sustainable viticulture and minimum intervention during fermentation. Thymiopoulos winery cultivates mostly Xinomavro, the prestigious variety of Northern Greece, and produces ten different expressions of this intricate variety.
The Greek cuisine seems straightforward, with just a few dishes here and there. However, once you get to know it well, you learn it is quite complex, maybe not as much as other cuisines, but still, it has a great variety of different foods, from grilled meats to refreshing salads and baked treats to seafood. We, wine pros, choose the above wines for the perfect Greek food wine match. Just pick any of our selections fearlessly to serve alongside delicious Greek meze!