Greek Food and Wine Pairings for the Holiday Season

The National Herald Archive

Red wine. Photo by Quinn Dombrowski, via Wikimedia Commons

As the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday approaches, most of us are riddled with what to prepare and pair. We typically want to offer something better and more creative than last year's offerings. Most Greek households have the habit of overwhelming guests with a plethora of offerings and selections. We've chosen three delicious and simple dishes for you to prepare along with three pairings that will enhance the experience. (The recipes are from, founded by sisters Caroline and Joanna as well as their brother Ari Kalos, the technical brains behind the scenes.)

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Feta Paired with Kir Yianni Sparkling Rosé

This is a great starter pairing as your guests are arriving or you could serve it for your first course. This lighter style dish packs plenty of sharp and smooth textures along with salty and creamy flavors. The ideal starter wine for this pairing would be the `Champagne-method' rosé from Kir Yianni Estates. This is considered to be one of the best representations of a sparkling rosé from Europe. Produced from the Xinomavro grape variety, it releases intense floral aromas that pull you into flavors of slightly sweet strawberries and cherries. Refreshing, balanced, with a clean finish. This is a fantastic selection to enjoy with spicy foods, sharp cheeses, and is it is also a great way to end any dining experience.

Roasted Peppers Stuffed with Feta

6 one-inch-thick slices day-old French bread, crust removed

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 grated garlic cloves

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 teaspoons chopped thyme

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 ounce grated Parmesan

6 small sweet peppers

6 ounces mild feta cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and pulse in food processor in batches to make coarse, soft crumbs. (It should yield about 3 cups.) Toss crumbs with olive oil and spread on a baking sheet. Bake, stirring frequently, until crisp and barely browned, about 15 minutes. Put baked crumbs in a bowl and add garlic, parsley, thyme, rosemary, and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and toss well to combine. Set aside.

Cut peppers in half lengthwise and remove seeds. Place in a low-sided baking dish in one layer. Season cut side lightly with salt. Fill each pepper half with 1/2 ounce crumbled feta and press in cheese with fingers. With a spoon divide the seasoned crumbs evenly among the pepper halves. Bake for about 30 minutes, until crumbs are golden and cheese is softened. Serve warm from the baking dish.

Araka (Pea Stew) Paired with Mylonas Rosé

This hearty dish can be offered as a side to compliment your turkey along with stuffing and roasted vegetables. The textures and flavors of this dish will pair eloquently with Mylonas' rosé. This delicious rosé is a blend mainly of the white variety, Malagousia (80%) and the red variety Mandilaria (20%). Mesmerizing aromas of fresh flowers and fresh cut strawberries. This mineral driven rosé offers crisp and refreshing flavors of a fruit salad, followed by a clean finish.

Araka (Pea Stew)

1/2 cup olive oil

1 large chopped vidalia onion

3 medium to large chopped potatoes

3 tablespoons chopped dill

1 1/2 cups water

1 package frozen artichoke hearts

2 to 3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 package sweet or baby peas

1/3 cup red wine

Salt and pepper to taste

Crumbled feta, for topping

In a large, deep saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and cook until onions are translucent. Add dill. Mix well and cook for a minute. Add water. There should be enough to just cover the potatoes. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Add artichokes, tomato paste, red wine, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes. Add peas. Add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Cover and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until potatoes and just soft. Do not overcook. Remember this is stew so there should be quite a bit of sauce but not too much. If there is too much liquid, cook uncovered for another 5 to 10 minutes or until liquid has evaporated.

The National Herald

Effie Panagopoulos, Founder of Kleos Mastiha Spirit, which is recommended for pairing with desserts like olive oil cake with orange. (Photo: Courtesy of Hellenic Professional Women)

Olive Oil Cake with Orange Paired with Kleos Mastiha

During the dessert offering it becomes challenging to pair a sweet dish with a sweet wine or beverage. But we found an amazing unity between this moist and yummy olive oil cake infused with orange and Kleos Mastiha. The herbal and balanced sweet flavors of the Mastiha divinely work with the softness and delicate flavors of the cake. We recommend having the Mastiha over ice or even as a cocktail.

Olive Oil Cake with Orange

2 cups all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

4 large eggs

1 cup sugar

orange zest from 1 orange

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup orange juice

1/4 cup confectioners sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease bottom and sides of 10-inch springform pan with olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, beat the eggs with sugar until well combined. Add the orange zest and mix well. In a large measuring cup or bowl, combine the olive oil and orange juice. Gradually mix olive oil mixture into egg mixture, then gradually add in the flour mixture until you form a smooth batter. Pour batter into prepared springform pan. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely. Release from mold and dust with confectioners sugar (optional).

Fotios Stamos is a wine expert with an extreme passion for Greek wines and Greek wine culture. His expertise has been featured on TV, in magazines and newspapers. He is also one of the co-hosts and producers of the Connecting Greeks podcast along with Angelo Tsarouchas and Ari Kalos.

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