Challenging Wine Pairing: Greek Moussaka

By LaGayle ~ November 23rd, 2011.

While I generally prefer flavorful but simple-to-prepare recipes, I decided to make Greek moussaka for this month’s challenging wine pairing meal. Although there are short-cut versions, I wanted to follow the standard recipe. Moussaka is a little like lasagna in that there are layers—potatoes, eggplant, cheese, ground lamb (although beef can also be used) with tomatoes and spices and topped with a béchamel sauce which is an egg custard. It is then baked until golden brown. I have to say that the dish was delicious; however, it was way too time consuming to prepare. The basic preparation required the eggplant to be sliced and salted and then allowed to set before rinsing and dredging in egg whites and breadcrumbs and baked. The potatoes had to be cooked and the lamb browned. Once everything was ready, the layering was done. Then the béchamel sauce took a while to prepare and thicken before pouring over the layers. And, finally, it had to be baked 45 to 55 minutes. Again, it was very good, so if you enjoy spending time in the kitchen, this is a dish to consider. The full menu for the dinner included a Greek salad, the moussaka, and Greek-style green beans.

When researching what wines might be served with moussaka, it was no surprise that Greek wines were recommended. However, I wanted to pair this meal with Washington State wines, so I looked in both What to Drink with What You Eat and The Food Lover’s Guide to Wine by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page to see what other wines are recommended with moussaka or Greek cuisine. I decided to pair the meal with a Cabernet Sauvignon and a Rosé so we selected the 2008 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon and the 2010 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rosé. Both wines were very good; however, the rosé was the unanimous choice as the best pairing.

We’d love for you to share in the comments what you would have paired with this meal. And, as always, we welcome your suggestions for challenging wine pairings for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2010 Chinook Cabernet Franc Rosé (Yakima Valley, Washington): Pale, pinkish salmon in color. Aromatic with strawberry, raspberry, and floral notes on the nose. Watermelon and raspberry come through on the palate. Dry and light to medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Well-balanced with a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Fred Meyer (Seattle, Washington), $14.99

2008 Novelty Hill Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley, Washington): Deep, purplish red. Nice nose with black cherry and leather aromas. More black cherry as well as spice and oak come through on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity, medium tannins, and a long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Full Pull Wines (Seattle, Washington), $19.99; Available elsewhere, $17 to $30

Filed under: American Wine, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Challenging Wine Pairing, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Red Wine, Rose Wine, Washington State Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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