Excerpt from Source: The four best wines from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, The Independent
Lebanese cuisine is packed with colour and bold flavours, so the wine you choose to match musn’t be a pushover, writes Nuria Stylianou
Lebanese workers pick grapes at a vinyard in the village of Khirbet Qanafar in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley Getty
From creamy hummus and smoky baba ganoush, to crumbly falafel or salty spinach and feta boregi, Lebanese cuisine is packed with colour and bold flavours.
Mint, garlic, earthy cumin, sumac and coriander, sharp citrus and tahini are key ingredients to many a mezze spread, with enough varying textures and contrasting tastes to give your failsafe wine choice a much-needed shake-up.
Then, moving from mezze to main course dishes, many of which have a smoked or chargrilled element, the wine you choose to match mustn’t be a pushover.
The Bekaa Valley is home to the major wines of Lebanon. The famous Châteaux Musar, Ksara, Kefraya and Massaya all have their wineries here and the country’s French influence can be seen in the grape varieties grown: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah and Carignan.
Many of the Bordeaux-style reds have a fuller, spicier flavour than their counterparts and the rosés also carry more flavour, with refreshing acidity – an ideal go-to for mezze. Having historically produced wine since 7,000BC – with the Phoenicians trading stock between Egypt and the Mediterranean, from 3,000BC – it’s surprising that Lebanese wines have remained somewhat hidden gems until recent years.
Arabica Bar & Kitchen, in London’s Borough Market, has a great wine list by the glass for those who are already fans of Lebanese wines – and for those curious to try something new alongside the more familiar Chablis or Riojas from Europe.
Here are four Lebanese wines you can easily find in the UK, paired with dishes from the Arabica Bar & Kitchen menu for this week:
BQā de Marsyas 2013
With a blend of younger Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Mourvedre, this is a robust wine – and quite a boozy one, too, with 15 per cent ABV – to enjoy now. Ripe red and black cherries with peppery spice pair perfectly with beef shish, charred spring onion, tomatoes and sumac – the fruit-forward elements of the wine balancing the charcoal from the beef. So satisfying to drink, it also tastes delicious with dark chocolate.