NEW YORK – Yia Mas presented the Virtual Bakaliko, a charming and informative Greek wine and food pairing event on November 11 with co-hosts and wine experts Aris Soultanos of Eklektikon, and Dimitrios Manousakis of the Greek Wine School sharing traditional and dynamic Greek wines, as well as answering questions from the participants.
Yia Mas founder Kristina Headrick gave the welcoming remarks and served as moderator for the fun, casual, and informative event. Attendees from across the country participated and shared what wines and foods they were enjoying from their respective locations.
The experts offered their insights about Greek wines today and shared historical facts as well about the long history of wine in Greece. Soultanos is the co-founder, with Maria Bakalopoulou, of Eklektikon which began in 2011, out of their passion for wine and their Greek heritage, and the realization that Greek wine and culture were misrepresented in the United States. Their vision was the creation of a “bridge” between Greek tradition and the U.S. market by importing handcrafted, natural Greek wines. As Soultanos pointed out, wine is fermented grape juice, but in more recent times additives had made wine more like Coca Cola than the natural product it actually is. He also spoke about his favorite island Lemnos and the Limnio variety which is the oldest in recorded history, mentioned by Homer and Hesiod.
Manousakis has spent seven years working for restaurants and now promotes the knowledge and appreciation of Greek wine through the Greek Wine School which offers classes to wine enthusiasts. Manousakis noted that with the resurgence of Greek wines, there has also been a resurgence of Greek beer and also tsipouro.
A Greek Bakaliko Guide to the wines and pairings was also emailed to all those who registered for the event, so they could find the wines at their local shops or order them and either prepare or order foods which pair with the wines.
According to the Bakaliko guide, “the wines that we chose for you tell a story and represent tradition in myriad ways. There are traditional grape varieties like Assyrtiko and Agiorgitiko, and there are also traditional wines like Retsina. There are wines that have been traditional in their respective wine regions but forgotten and there are wines with traditional winemaking techniques. While tradition is steeped into them, these wines also represent the future of Greek wine in a globalized world of extreme and intense flavors. Enter food! We have also devised ways for you to experiment with food pairings to experience a robust dialogue with your taste buds.”
The guide included the list of wines:
Stylianou, Theon Dora white 2018
Xydakis, Assyrtiko 2018
Sant’Or, Santameriana Nature 2018
Kontozisis Organic Vineyards, Agrafo Assyrtiko 2019
Sarris, V for Vostilidi 2017
Garalis, Limnio 2018
Stilianou, Great Mother red 2018
Halkia, Halkia red 2018
Bairaktaris, Old Monolithos 2015
Doric Wines, Doric red 2016
Vaimaki Family, Popolka red 2018
Siflogo, Keropatis 2019
Kalogris Organic Winery, Dialogues 2017
Papras Bio Wines, Melanthia Ancestral 2019
Garalis, Retsina of Lemnos rosé NV
Georgas Family, Retsina Black Label 2019
Georgas Retsina Black Label
As for the food pairings for the white wines, fresh flavors and vegetables with acidity are ideal. A lentil and eggplant salad with yogurt and a Politiki (Greek cabbage) salad from Greek celebrity chef Akis Petretzikis as well as lemon chicken were among the recommended foods to pair with the white wines.
For the red wines, foods with spices and red fruits were suggested to match their umami intensity, such as a classic oven-roasted lamb and potatoes or hearty stews flavored with spices like cumin, paprika, allspice, and cloves, or even a mushroom stifado or slow cooked tomato-based vegetable stew.
For the rosé wines, foods combining vegetables with lighter meats were recommended, such as chicken souvlaki, or roasted potatoes with rosemary.
For retsina, food pairings may vary from a stuffed mackerel recipe, to something as simple as feta, graviera, olives, piperies florinis, and sardines. For those looking to experiment, retsina may also be paired with foods that have no association with Greece at all, such as Korean kimchi, or a spicy Pad Thai.
For the much-beloved oranges, chicken souvlaki with peppers is an ideal pairing.
More information is available online:
Greek Wine School: https://www.greekwineschool.com.