Recipe: Chana Masala, Palak Paneer, and Basmati Rice (Lacto-Vegetarian)(purchased from Whole Foods)
Bottle: 2016 Ktima Gerovassiliou Single Vineyard Malagousia (Vegan - fined with bentonite clay)
Do you ever have those days where you get off work late and, on the commute home, realize that you have absolutely nothing left at home to eat for dinner? I mean, you might have a handful of ingredients with which you can make...nothing. Yup, me too. All the time, in fact.
Well, as the routine seems to go, this happened to me the other night. So, I went with one of my go-to, save-the-day options - browsing the hot bar at Whole Foods. On this particular night, however, the hot bar was rather meat and poultry focused, and the salad bar is never really my first choice to be honest.
So, I decided to take a look in the ready-to-go meal fridges tucked next to the hot bar and discovered a treasure-trove of Indian vegatarian meal packs! With the chickpeas and paneer of this particular pack sounding rather enticing, I decided to go for it. I will say, it was one of the best fast food style Indian meals I have had and it was under $7. Not too shabby.
Typically, with Indian cuisine, the pairing recommendations range from sweet Riesling (to balance the heat) or Grüner Veltliner (to bring out the savory, peppery elements of the dish). While both would have worked, this meal was not on the spicy side, so the sweet Riesling would have been a bit overkill. Further, I did not have any Grüner laying around the house. I did, however, have a fantastic bottle of Malagousia that I was dying to open. Based on the tasting notes of the wine and my own prior tastings of Malagousia, I had a feeling the two might pair well. Wow. I was not ready for just how well they worked together, but more on that in a bit.
My Recommendation - Malagousia
Historically grown in Greece and Macedonia, Malagousia is a grape varietal that was just barely rescued from extinction by Prof. Vassilis Logothetis and Vangelis Gerovassiliou, who discovered some of the last remaining vines in rural Greece in the 1970s. Together, they worked to cultivate and regrow the vine.
Known today for it's high degree of floral and tropical fruit aromas, as well as citrus flavors on the palate, Malagousia is a fantastic pairing with nearly all forms of vegetarian and pescatarian dishes.
Why this bottle in particular?
Did you happen to catch the name above of the man working with the Professor to save this varietal from extinction? Yeah. That's the same Gerovassiliou of Ktima Gerovassiliou. So, he may know a thing or two about crafting a top-rate Malagousia, especially one that is from a single vineyard on his family's land in Epanomi. I will say that this single vineyard Malagousia is by far the best bottle I have ever had of the varietal.
In the case of this chickpea-driven plate, a bit richer iteration of Malagousia is required. This bottle has a bit more weight to it than most Malagousia, having a more viscous body and enhanced "green" vegetal notes. The aromas of flowers, grass, and honey help temper the heavier tomato-based masala sauce while highlighting the nuttiness of the chickpeas and rice. Thanks to this unique pairing, I now have a surefire backup plan for those wandering-the-hot-bar-at-Whole-Foods nights. Actually, it's better than a backup plan. I think this is a pairing that I will need to purposefully add to my monthly routine.
Other Great Choices
If you want something a bit more off the wall than a nearly extinct Greek grape, you actually do have some pretty great other options out there from the more floral areas of Beaujolais to a rather elegant Italian white from the town of Avellino near Naples that has prominant hazelnut notes.
Reds: Beaujolais (particularly from Fleurie or Régnié), Garnacha, Zweigelt
Whites: Smaragd Riesling, Fiano di Avellino, Chenin Blanc
Rosé: Loire Rosé, Italian Rosato