Wine Pairings For The Food of Jordan

Wine Pairings For The Food of Jordan

This blog is to all the wine lovers that aren’t sure what to pair with Middle Eastern food. Arak is lovely but it simply cannot be the only option nor is it sufficiently versatile.

Middle Eastern cuisine is a broad category. The diversity of the region means that it encompasses a wide range of food traditions including the Levant, the Gulf, North Africa and even Armenian food. We are going to focus today to the cuisine commonly present in Jordan. Historically part of Greater Syria, the ingredients, dishes and flavors common in Jordan are those also present in Palestine, Syria, and Lebanon with each country developing certain dishes and flavors, almost like our Arabic dialects. All of which have a great base for pairing wines, with a repertoire of herbs, spices and base sauces that can shine if paired well with wine.

Instead of memorizing dishes to wines, follow these three guidelines. First, pair like with like. For example, so many of our dishes are flavored with a common blend of 7 spices: cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coriander, black pepper, cloves and cumin. So, pair a wine that matches the intensity of the aromatics of the spices in the dish. Second, when pairing dishes with meat, consider the sauce in which the meat is cooked rather than simply the meat. Is the meat grilled, or stewed in tomato sauce? These pairing could not be more different. Finally, a more specific guideline for our foods, Middle Eastern dishes often use fresh herbs, raw garlic and onion. In pairing these ingredients, one must choose a crisp highly acidic wine which will help soften the sharpness of these flavors without over powering them.

Here are some examples common ingredients and wines pairings:

  • Parsley: Herbaceous and green white wines with acidity such as: Sauvignon Blanc
  • Onion: Crisp white wines including: an unoaked Chardonnay like a Chablis
  • Cilantro: Aromatic white wines with balanced acidity: Albarino, Verdejo
  • Tahini (Sesame paste): Aromatic or nutty wines: Riesling, Vigonier, and Fiano
  • Cumin: Refreshing whites, sparkling wines or earthy reds: Blanc de Noir Sparkling, Riesling, Pinot Noir, or Barbera
  • Lemon: Citrusy whites with high acidity: Sauvignon Blanc, and Godello
  • Shatta (chilli paste with spices): dry or off-dry aromatic wines: Gewurztraminer, and off-dry or dry Riesling
  • Tomato Sauce: medium bodied red wine with high acidity: Sangiovese and Pinot Noir

Now, here are wine pairings for some of our everyday favorites:

Hummus

Pair it with a medium-bodied dry rose wine or an aromatic fresh white wine like an Alvarinho. The acidity in crisp whites like Alvarinho softens the garlic in the hummus and cuts through the creaminess. On the other hand, rosé wines with some roundness match the hummus’ creamy texture and refresh the palate.

Aveleda Alvarinho Vinho Verde 2021: Crisp, and luscious in the mouth with a pleasant minerality and a vibrant, long-lasting finish. A must try pairing with Hummus.

Planeta Rose 2020: Lively and fresh on the palate, notes of meringue and the pale flesh of peaches. This medium-bodied rose would be a lovely pairing with Hummus.

Shawerma

Pair it with sparkling whites, and dark-fruit reds such as Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo. These two categories of wine couldn’t be more different, but enhance the Shawerma equally. As Shawerma sandwiches tend to be salty and greasy, these wines cut through the fat and balance the salt, while providing a lovely balance with the onions and herbs. Sparkling white wines are a refreshing choice as well.

Masi Passo Doble: Full body, lovely vibrant acidity, juicy tannins, plenty of tangy fruit and a deliciously fruity finish. This grape variety is a favourite of wine connoisseurs and is classically known to be a great partner with an assortment of lean meats. Its tasting notes match perfectly with Shawerma.

Marqués de Cáceres Crianza 2019: Full-bodied on the palate with a background of ripe fruit and smooth elegant tannins. Complements meat dishes with voluminous fruit and tannins. A lovely Tempranillo to pair with Shawerma.

Barbeque aka Mashawi

Marqués de Cáceres Generación MC 2020: Its new generation style comes through clearly on the palate where the essence of old vines is revealed with delicious flavors, alongside the fullness of dense, juicy and lively tannins. This Rioja works beautifully with a mixed grill feast (Mashwai) specifically with lamb and beef.

 

Planeta Santa Cecilia Nero d'Avola 2019: The tannin texture is varied and combines its soft, sweet and seductive aspects, like a Sacher torta, with the harder, more direct and austere elements of a block of Modica chocolate. Perfect for matching with grilled meat with its affinity for smoky tones and its natural sweetness which goes with any sauce.

 

Eggplant Magloubeh

While you might think Magloubeh is a hard dish to pair with wines, our sommelier has undertaken a pairing experiment and has found that Syrah pairs beautifully with Magloubeh. The 7 spices blend is prominent in the dish along with the incredible umami flavour of the eggplant, which makes the spice and fruit profile of the Syrah just perfect!

Chateau Pech-Latt Les Terres Mures 2018: This Syrah carries a powerful nose dominated by red berries and a few herbaceous peppery accents. It's medium to full-bodied, even a touch jammy on the mid-palate, then turns crisp and focused on the finish. All of these flavors match wonderfully with all the components and ingredients of Magloubeh.

JR Reserva Zinfandel 2018: A Zinfandel which pairs very well with Magloubeh. Warm and mouth filling on the palate, fruit-forward wine has vibrant aromas of black-berries and plums with hints of oak, cinnamon, and tobacco. Medium tannins and a persistent bouquet of spicy black fruits, followed by a smoky final. The smoky peppery notes match wonderfully with the spices found in a typical Maqloubeh.

Now go ahead and plan your next meal, paired with wine: from mezza at a restaurant, to street food Shawerma and even a delicious homemade Magloubeh!