Souvlaki are one of the most famous street food dishes in Greece. Skewers made from either chicken, pork or lamb, marinated and cooked over an open fire for a delicious, sophisticated flavor profile.
Depending on the type of meat that is used our recommendations range from medium bodied whites to light to medium bodied reds. The special Souvlaki marinade would typically consist of olive oil, lemon juice and a mixture of thyme, salt, pepper and hints of garlic. Due to the acidity of this marinade and the way of cooking, we would have to go for richer, acidic wines with a smoky character.
Wine Characteristics To Pair With Souvlaki
|Tannins||Low to Medium|
|Body||Medium to Full Bodied White, Light to Medium Bodied Reds|
|Tasting Notes||Citrus, green fruit, ripe berries|
Souvlaki can be a difficult dish to match with wine, but here we will delve into the key components that we need to marry with our wine choices.
Acidity – The marinade used for the classic souvlaki dish adds to the acidity and saltiness of the meat and for this reason we would have to choose a wine with a high acidity to complement the dish and to not have our wine seem flabby.
Sweetness – Dry wines are the style we would recommend with souvlaki as any hints of sweetness in the wine won’t enhance the dining experience.
Tannins – They play a huge role in any red wine and since souvlaki can be made with lamb and pork, we would suggest looking for red wines with medium tannins which will help break down the meat but won’t overpower the dish.
Body – Definitely a key factor in finding a right match, the body of the wine will depend on the type of meat being used in the dish. Medium to full bodied whites would be a safe bet for the chicken or pork souvlaki while light to medium reds will work better for lamb souvlaki.
Tasting notes – White wines should be rich, with primary aromas being centered around citrus and green fruit with secondary aromas of smoke, charred wood and creaminess will complement the grilled meat.
Best Red Wine To Drink With Souvlaki
For the red wines, the primary aromas should consist of ripe red and black fruit aromas, with hints of pepper notes complemented as well with aromas of smoke and charred wood coming from oak aging.
GSM Blend from the South Rhone
The number one pick would be a classic GSM blend coming from the South Rhone valley in France. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre make a great trio to go alongside grilled meat and BBQs. A medium bodied red wine with red fruit and black fruit flavors, medium acidity and rich tannins, it will match perfectly with souvlaki.
Grenache gives the blend a base of red fruits with a lighter body while Syrah adds charred meat and pepper aromas which will complement the meat and the pepper from our marinade. The small amount of Mourvedre traditionally added in the blend adds a bit of body and tannins and in this case it’s just the thing we need.
Small tip: South Rhone wines always have a hint of garrigue and guess what, it enhances the herbal flavors in the dish!
Xinomavro from Naoussa
Following the old saying of “What grows together, goes together”, our second pick would be a indigenous grape variety coming from the region of Macedonia in the north of Greece. The appellation is called Naoussa and it is a 100% Xinomavro which produces medium bodied red wines with red fruit aromas and a zingy acidity.
Pinot Noir from Burgundy
This great grape variety produces some of the best and most complex wines in the world and we will recommend that you get it from the birthplace of the grape itself. Light to medium in body, with high acidity, medium tannins it will make a great pairing for chicken, pork and even lamb souvlaki.
Sangiovese from Tuscany
Hailing from Italy, it is a grape variety mostly used in the Chianti Classico DOCG in Tuscany. It is often blended with Canaiolo and Colorino in this appellation and it makes wines with medium body, loaded with aromas of Italian herbs.
Best White Wine To Drink With Souvlaki
If you don’t prefer red wines, and would like to drink white wine with souvlaki, here are a few recommendations. It’s important that you drink what you like when pairing, so don’t force a red wine if you don’t like reds. These are our favorite white wines to drink with souvlaki:
Assyrtiko from Santorini
In this case our first pick would be a Greek grape variety coming from the volcanic island of Santorini. The grape variety itself has an astronomical acidity and lots of citrus aromas, complemented with smoke aromas coming from the volcanic soil on which it is grown.
We would recommend trying the Nykteri style of Assyrtiko as it is aged in oak for a minimum of three months which will add to the texture and the body of the wine. It will take your dining experience to another level and if you haven’t tried it before it will be a learning experience too!
Hailing from the Veneto region in northeast Italy, this wine is grown in the appellation of Soave Classico DOCG. Made from a grape called Garganega, it produces wines with herbal, citrus and green fruit aromas.
A classic style of Chardonnay, barrel fermented and aged on the lees. These wines usually have a good acidity with citrus fruit aromas, complemented with aromas of smoke, charred wood and hints of dill.
Godello from Valdeorras
A slightly out of the box recommendation, this wine comes from northwest Spain, from the region of Galicia. Godello is a grape variety indigenous to the region and it produces wines with high acidity, citrus aromas and great freshness due to its proximity to the Atlantic. With a touch of oak, it will make a killer pairing with your souvlaki.
Best Wine To Drink With Souvlaki
Below you will find a list of wines we would recommend having with Souvlaki. The wines have all the necessary components to make the pairing work. Our focus is mostly on freshness, acidity, rich mouthfeel and a long finish, everything that you will have in your souvlaki as well.
- Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece
- Chardonnay from Burgundy, France
- Godello from Valdeorras, Spain
- GSM from Rhone, France
- Xinomavro from Macedonia, Greece
- Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France
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