Wine Advocate Weekend Pairings: Meze

Everyone loves a good cocktail party. Summer heat waves makes a great excuse for noshing on Mediterranean fare like hummus, babaganoush, tzatziki and an assortment of kabobs.
The spicy hummus at Ēma in Chicago. (Photo by Anjali Pinto.)

At Chicago’s Michelin-recognized Mediterranean restaurant Ēma—which translates to “mother” in Hebrew—whitewashed brick and overhead greenery make an elegant setting for chef C.J. Jacobson’s rustic-refined menu of spreads, dips and meze inspired by his California upbringing. A signature at Ēma is the spicy hummus—serve it with crudité, homemade bread or dolloped on top of salads and grain bowls all week long.

"I love Northern Italian whites," proclaims reviewer Erin Brooks. "And a Cortese will do the trick here. It comes off with a phenolic texture, so it feels like a Chardonnay. It will stand up to the texture of the hummus while also standing up to the spice, all without using a sweet wine. Textural Italian wines go with everything."
Cauliflower meze at DEZ in New York City. (Photo courtesy of DEZ.)

Tucked into a busy stretch on Mulberry Street in New York City, DEZ stands out for its optimistic interior—decorative neon palm trees, camels and cacti—and menu of bright, health-conscious dishes like harissa curry shakshuka, Moroccan lamb meatballs and cauliflower meze. Co-owner Eden Grinshpan spices her cauliflower meze up with crispy capers, herbs, preserved lemon and currant chimichurri. 

Brooks suggests an Albariño pairing for this dish. "The idea is that you have a lot of citrus and it's really bright and crisp, so I think the 2016 Do Ferreiro is fruity enough to work with the sweet elements there."
The eggplant chaat at Junoon in New York City. (Photo courtesy of Junoon.)

Uptown at one-Michelin-starred Junoon, executive chef Akshay Bhardwaj serves up creative Indian cuisine with great attention to detail. Appetizers on the current dinner menu include a seared diver scallop with five green pepper coulis and orange marmalade, smoked masala ribs and eggplant chaat, made of crispy eggplant pakora, raita, tamarind chutney, red onion and chaat masala. 

"Sicilian reds are light-bodied with plenty of acidity, but they also have an earthy smokiness that would work with eggplant, and this dish in particular with deeper spices," says Brooks, who recommends the 2015 Planeta Etna Rosso.

"This is a nice progression, so you can treat this like an actual full meal going from a super light white, to a full white and end with a light red." 

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