What’s the best wine match for Middle Eastern food?

Most wine buffs will tell you that several different wine options are required to adequately match your Middle Eastern feast.

Problem is, if you’re heading down to your local joint for a quality mid-week meal, you’re hardly going to arrive with half a dozen bottles under your arm.  You just want one wine that will sit happily with you throughout the meal.

One that can confidently traverse the journey from delicate, flaky pastries and finely sliced salads through to bold, char-grilled meats – and back again – without ever letting you down.

That wine is Chardonnay.

Surprised? Don’t be. A medium-bodied Chardonnay is an incredibly adaptable wine.

Chardonnay has taken a bit of a beating recently, having been surpassed in the glamour stakes by more exotic foreigners like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Savagnin. But the humble Australian Chardonnay is exactly the sort of wine that’s perfect for standing up to all the diverse flavours of Middle Eastern food. 

Make it Un-oaked

When a winemaker refrains from using oak, it helps Chardonnay to retain more of its natural, grapey flavours. And it’s the fruity liveliness of these flavours that make them such a good match for the spices in Middle Eastern food.

Unlike some other fruity white wines, un-oaked Chardonnays also have enough body and structure to happily wash down a mouthful of meaty lamb kebab or beef and olive pide.

Look for a “New Style”

Your best bet for sourcing new style Chardonnay is to seek out offerings from cool climate wineries in areas such as Orange, Tasmania and the Adelaide Hills.

Not all Chardonnays are big, buttery and ready to be cut through with a knife. Many Australian Chardonnay producers are now creating vibrant, fresh, zingy, fruit driven and more minerally Chardonnays, with a lovely drinkability, that have more in common with the traditional French style.

Looking for a new Chardonnay to try?

Check out the Top 15 favourite Chardonnays

by Jane Thomson

Jane’s article first appeared on the Australian Good Food Guide website and is reproduced here with permission.