The best moussaka wine pairing options are lighter red wines like Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Xinomavro (a Greek wine).
Pick those wines, and you’ll have a great food and wine experience. Want to dive deeper into this Greek food-wine pairing? Want to appreciate these food pairing more deeply – keep reading!
What Is Moussaka?
Moussaka is a traditional Greek meal and a popular dish in restaurants. The common ingredients include eggplant (i.e., layers of eggplant), potatoes, and a meat (i.e., minced lamb or beef). The traditional wine pairing suggestions mentioned above – like Zinfandel, Barbera, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, and Xinomavro – assume you are eating a meat-based Moussaka.
Vegan Moussaka with a lentil mixture is a bit different. In that case, the perfect wine to enjoy is different. You’ll want to try a type of wine better suited to vegetables, like a Riesling or Pinot Grigio.
4 Guidelines For Better A Moussaka Wine Pairing Experience
The process may seem difficult when you first start with food-wine pairing. You’re probably full of questions like how wine-chocolate pairing works.
Food-wine pairing doesn’t have to feel like solving a calculus equation. Instead, you need a few simple guidelines to organize your tasting.
Guideline 1: Start With Wines You Like
Most people are looking for enjoyment when they pour a glass of wine. The first principle of success is to drink wines you like. Only like white wines like semi-sweet Riesling or unoaked Chardonnay? Start with those wines. Your personal preferences matter!
There is one downside to this principle… Getting stuck in a rut of only familiar drinking wines is easy.
For a while, I mainly enjoyed oaked Chardonnay from California and Chianti from Tuscany. Those are still favorites. Yet, there’s so much more to the world of wine, so it’s great to branch out and try new things.
The following three food-wine principles will help you to explore new possibilities.
Guideline 2: Use The Contrast To Explore Flavors
Most food-wine pairing guides start with this principle. It’s all about giving yourself variety! Let’s apply this guideline to moussaka wine pairing. Look at a moussaka recipe to see the typical ingredients used in this popular Greek food.
- Olive oil. Like other Greek dishes, olive oil is essential to moussaka, so start there. I love to visit specialty olive oil shops to get my olive oil, like the Southampton Olive Oil Company in Ontario.
- Potatoes. This dish includes a layer of potatoes
- Eggplant (layer of aubergines). Eggplant slices are a vital ingredient in the dish. With the proper preparation, baked eggplant flavours do not have a bitter taste. Note that some cookbooks will use the French term “aubergine slice” instead for this cooking ingredient.
- Ground beef. You can also use lamb for the meat mixture. Start with a beef mixture and then make it again with lamb to see which you like.
- Cloves Garlic.
- Ground white pepper. You may also want to experiment with black pepper instead.
- All-Purpose Flour.
- Spices. A small amount of nutmeg and cinnamon adds desirable flavors to this dish.
The total cook time for this dish is probably an hour. With practice, you may get that down to 50-55 minutes.
Guideline 3: Use Complementary Flavors
In essence, wines and foods with similar characteristics tend to go well together. For example, tomato-based dishes tend to have high acidity. Therefore, wines with high acidity, like chianti, tend to pair well with pizza and tomato-based pasta.
A classic wine pairing that compliments moussaka is light-bodied wines like Zinfandel. Find out what Zinfandel wine tastes like through this comparison: Zinfandel vs Merlot.
Guideline 4: Seasonality
The time of year, especially the temperature, is another point to consider when choosing wine pairing. I enjoy a glass of chilled rose wine or a dry Riesling in the summer. The fresh acidity in those wines makes them refreshing in warm weather.
In the winter, my taste buds often prefer medium-bodied reds or full-bodied red wines. Complex wines like Cabernet Sauvignon tend to work well. For additional ideas, see my guide to the best red blend wine.
More Mediterranean Food Wine Pairings
Now you know all about Moussaka wine pairing; there’s a whole world of Mediterranean cuisine. You can explore the cuisine of southern France with a bottle of rose wine. To find out more about white wine options, discover the best white wine with Mediterranean food.