Wine to Dine

Perfect Wines for Mediterranean Cuisine

Bring the Mediterranean to life with great wine pairings.

By Katie Ayoub, senior writer for Kraft Culinary Centre

What wine goes with what food?

The key to a good food and wine pairing is harmony. Each should enhance the other—the wine making the food more vibrant, and the food bringing out the nuances of the wine.

Often, diners aren’t sure what wines match well with the food on the menu. By offering suggestions, you increase check average, but perhaps more importantly, you extend hospitality. Good hospitality is remembered, and repeat business might just be the return on that investment.

Good rules of thumb when recommending wines:

  • Suggest wines that hail from the same region as the dish. So, if serving a pasta with a tangy tomato sauce, perhaps the food-friendly, fruity Chianti would be a good match.
  • Pair lighter-style wines with lighter-style foods. For rich or strongly flavored dishes, suggest more complex, robust wines.

Pairing up for the Mediterranean

There’s so much to get excited about when matching wines to Mediterranean cuisine. French and Italian wines call this region home, bringing with them a synchronicity of terroir. Or consider California wines, which are a happy import to this sunny cuisine of grilled meats, fish, vegetables and grains.

Lighter Wine Pairings

Arugula Salad with Grilled Vegetables Riesling
  • this well-rounded, citrusy wine plays well with the tartness of the goat cheese and meatiness of the eggplant

Mediterranean Couscous with Grilled Vegetables and Beans Pinot Grigio
  • its crisp, clean flavor pairs well with the grilled vegetables

Ratatouille Pasta Salad
  • its bright acidity highlights the fresh flavors in the salad

Sun-dried Tomato Couscous with Grilled Vegetables Sauvignon Blanc
  • its grassy notes is a nice counterpoint to the earthy texture of the sun-dried tomato

Ricotta Loaves with salad
  • its bright acidity cuts through the creaminess of the ricotta beautifully

These dishes, although each offering unique profiles, all carry forth the fresh, light flavors of the Mediterranean. Acidic brightness is delivered through either Kraft vinaigrettes or tangy cheese. The grilling technique brings out the natural essence, while keeping the concentration on the fresh flavors of the ingredients.

flavor notes:
Riesling: lively, apricot, citrus
Sauvignon Blanc: bright, grassy, herbaceous, crisp
Pinot Grigio: light, orange blossom, fruit-forward, delicate

Heartier Wine Pairings

Antipasti Roulade Chianti
  • antipasto and Chianti are a classic combination. The earthy, rounded Italian red is a great match to the depth of flavors found in the Parmesan and assorted meats

Tapenade Crostini
  • its earthiness is well matched to the flavors of the olives and sun-dried tomatoes, and also cuts through the creaminess of the dish

Mediterranean Spanakopita Pinot Noir
  • this medium-bodied crowdpleaser with cherry notes plays well against the mellow cream cheese and rich mouthfeel

Baked Tomato-Ricotta Tart
  • the smoke and cherry in the wine are a good match for the tomato and oregano in this dish

These dishes still reflect the delicious, fresh flavors of the Mediterranean, but they also deliver a decadent mouthfeel, with the addition of Philadelphia cream cheese, and in two of them, a crisp pastry packaging.

flavor notes:
Pinot Noir: mushroom, plum, cherry, smoke
Chianti: fruity, bright, round, earthy

When pairing wines with Mediterranean foods, stick to crisp, acidic whites to complement fish dishes, grilled vegetables and grains. For dishes flavored with spices such as saffron or cumin, move to a medium-bodied red. In general, this cuisine’s mantra chants freshness and simplicity. Mellow wines reflect those flavors, making the whole experience even more delicious.

Katie Ayoub is a wine expert, certified by Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc, Chicago, in 1996.

Mediterranean Food and Wine