The disclaimer first, I did not cook this food. I was simply too lazy and decided to go for take-out that day. It was the first time I gave Aleko's in Middletown, MD a try. I simply adore Greek food and find Greek restaurants much too few and far between in the area where I live. I selected a small sampler of some of my favorite dishes, a gyro pita sandwich, spanakopita and dolmades.
If you are not that familiar with Greek food, dolmades are grape leaves with a rice stuffing, usually eaten cold, spanakopita is filo dough with a spinach and feta cheese filling, and gyro of course refers to the lamb and beef meat cooked on a vertical spit. The meal definitely evoked memories of past vacations and carefree summer living. The food was well seasoned, and I would not have minded even bolder flavorings.
Usually I pair Greek food with Greek wine, the Boutari Naoussa would have been nice, but I really wanted to try a wine I had never tasted before. I was wondering if Greek food could play nice with Spanish wine, and since both are considered to be from the Mediterranean region, I went with a 2009 Montebuena from the Rioja region. This wine is made from 100% Tempranillo grapes.
I tasted dark berries and very subtle, well-integrated tannins. Honestly, on its own, this wine was almost a little boring, but in combination with the food, it really came to life! The spices of the food intensified the flavor profile of the wine dramatically and made it multi-dimensional. I guess now I understand what people mean when they say "this is a food wine"! Amazingly enough, this wine even went great with the stuffed grape leaves, which I expected to be difficult to pair, as the leaves often have been cured in a brine and the finished product is served with a yogurt sauce. I will have to put this wine on my "regulars" list.
"Kalí óreksi" and "¡salud!" Enjoy your meal and cheers! What is your favorite ethnic food and does it go well with wine?