Above: The seared scallops paired gorgeously with Boutari Santorini at Naha, one of Chicago’s top destinations for fine dining.
Looking back over a year of tasting a lot of Greek wines and dining in a lot of Greek restaurants (and the many restaurants I experience for my work in Italian wines and beyond), it has occurred to me that the status of Greek wines in the U.S. is similar to that of Italian wines about 20 years ago. Beyond the myriad Greek restaurants in the country and the many Greek gastronomic communities, you typically don’t expect to find Greek wines in non-Hellenic contexts.
But more and more, I’ve been seeing Greek wines pop up on wine lists where you’d least expect it — or at least, you wouldn’t have expected it, even just a few years ago. Recently, I found Greek wines on lists authored by some of the country’s top sommeliers, like Aldo Sohm’s list at Le Bernardin in New York, and Francesco Grosso’s list at Marea, French- and Italian-themed, respectively, high-profile dining destinations.
Above: The cuisine at Naha is pan-Mediterranean and the sommelier and staff have found a number of excellent ways to “apply” Greek wines — in traditional and non-conventional pairings.
One of the more thrilling restaurants I got to try this year was Naha in Chicago, where the restaurant’s pan-Mediterranean menu and farm-to-table approach is complemented by Boutari’s Moschofilero, Santorini, and Naoussa.
Ultimately, it comes down to a very simple set of precepts: wines with balanced alcohol, flavors, and freshness will always win out as the top “food friendly wines,” especially where Mediterranean cuisine is served. After all, as much as you may like big, fat, highly alcoholic, concentrated, fruit-forward Napa Valley Cabernet, there are only so many charred steaks a human being can humanly eat in one year!
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—Jeremy Parzen (blog master)