Greek Pizza … A Perfect Pairing with Assyrtiko, a Wine Seeming to be Created for Greek Pizza

Pairing:  Greek Pizza (with Feta, Spinach, and Oil-cured Olives) Paired with a 2014 Santo Wines Grande Reserve Assyrtiko Santorini

Food: Surprise! Greek Pizza did not come from Greece! Well, wait a second … let’s qualify that. What has been called Greek Pizza originated in Connecticut in the 1950’s. The Greeks, however, have been making unleavened flatbreads topped with oils, herb and spices for centuries, well before the first pizza (so named and topped with tomato sauce) emerged in Naples, Italy. (see The History of Pizza). So, we can say that our Greek Pizza is more closely related to the “pizza” created in 1950’s Connecticut than the flatbreads that began their life in the bakeries of Ancient Greece or among the working class of early 19th century Naples.

Our Greek Pizza starts with a crust made from white whole wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt. A dressing composed of EVO oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and oregano is brushed onto each individual pie (about a tablespoon of dressing for each 8-inch pie). Some grated mozzarella is mixed in with the cooked chopped spinach and seasoned with granulated garlic and nutmeg. Spread onto the crust. Sprinkle generously with crumbled feta and chopped oil-cured olives. Bake at 490F.

Wine:  When one thinks of Greece, the image that often pops up in our imagination is of white .. very white … white-washed, cube-shaped buildings perched atop or clinging precariously to treacherously steep black volcanic cliffs, all set against the almost surreal blue of the Mediterranean Sea. What you have just conjured up is the real-life Santorini, one of Greece’s Cyclades Islands located in the southern Aegean Sea. It is a stunningly gorgeous place (see video) shaped by a long history of volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. It is also home to some REALLY GOOD WINE and a very productive wine industry despite the harsh geologic and climatic conditions in which the grape vines must thrive. Assyrtiko is considered to be the flagship wine of Santorini and, many would claim, Greece’s most iconic wine. We hardily concur.

Tasting Notes:  A deep gold color. The aroma of a very ripe Charante melon. One can practically smell the luscious sweet aroma from across the room! A little bit of spice and honey can be detected, adding a wonderful complexity. The palate reflects and deepens the honey and melon. “… late summer in a glass.” says my wife … she captures it perfectly. She elaborates … ” on the terrace, warm summer sun slanting though the trees … You’ve just eaten buttered corn on the cob, and then eat a very ripe, sun warmed melon served with spiced honey cakes.” I think she liked the wine. I love how a wine can set a scene or tell a story.

The pairing couldn’t be better. The richness of the wine plays well with the salty feta. It should be noted that the wine was not chilled. It just sat out on the counter, unopened, for hours before we drank it. The room temperature warmth let the complexity and subtleties of the wine shine.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Greek Pizza: Sauvignon Blanc (South Africa), Moschofilero (Greece), Viognier (California), Riesling (Alsace)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Assyrtiko:  Oysters, Taziki and Yogurt Based dips, Hummus, Chicken or Seafood Kebabs, Goat Cheese and Feta Cheese

Maps and Photos of the Santorini Wine Region: Santorini

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Greek Pizza … Served with Unoaked Chardonnay

Pairing: Greek Pizza … Paired with a 2014 Chehelen Unoaked Chardonnay

Food:  We are always experimenting with different toppings for our standard pizza shell. Lately our shell is made from sourdough. If you haven’t tried a sourdough crust, you are missing something grand. For our Greek topping, we first combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 3 Tbs red wine vinegar and 3 Tbs lemon juice. Mix in a large pinch of dried oregano, then brush the mixture on top of the crust (NOTE: after brushing four pizzas you will have enough leftover for future pizzas or to make an accompanying salad). Next combine 10 oz of spinach (cooked, drained, and patted dry) with 1 and 1/2 cup of grated mozzarella (it is pizza after all!), 1 tsp of granulated garlic, and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Spread this mixture on top of the pizza shells. Finally crumble 3/4 cup  of feta cheese on top along with some seeded oil-cured black wrinkled olives. Bake in a hot 450F oven. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn. This all makes enough for four 8 to 10  inch personal-size pizzas.

Greek Pizza

Wine: The temptation here is to pair the Greek pizza with a nice Greek white wine. Perhaps an Assyrtiko. But, being adventurous souls (and currently lacking said wine in our cellar), we chose an unoaked Chardonnay from Oregon. The clean, bright taste of an unoaked Chardonnay unadorned with oak that much of Chardonnay today is made, proved to be a lovely companion to the Greek pizza. Oregon has become one of the go-to places for Chardonnay. Although Chehalem Wines is best known for its extensive line of premier single vineyard pinot noirs, their Chardonnays are becoming more and more well regarded.

Chehalem Unoaked Chardonnay

Tasting Notes:  A pale gold color. The smells of  ripening cantaloupe is intoxicating on the nose, while cantaloupe and peach are both present on the palate. The salty elements of the pizza bring out the gentle sweetness of the wine. And the finish is long and very nice.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Greek Pizza::Assyrtiko (Greece), Albarino (Spain), Beaujolais (France), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Soave (Italy)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Unoaked Chardonnay: Trout, Grilled Shrimp, Pork, Grilled Salmon

Views and Maps of the Willamette Valley in Oregon:  willamette valley

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Haddock with Pesto Sauce … Paired with Greek White Wine

Pairing: Haddock with Pesto Sauce and Mediterranean Vegetables … Paired with 2012 Domaine Gerovasiliou Malagousia

Food:  First things first … It’s probably true that most times we first have a dinner in mind and then select a wine that we think will best complement the flavors in that dish. This time, however, we first had a wine in mind (actually, we had opened a bottle of it the night before). It was a delicious Greek white wine, Malagousia, that we had enjoyed last night with a Greek chicken salad (feta cheese and oil-cured olives being the key flavor elements). We based our new meal creation on familiar Mediterranean flavors … white fish (in this case haddock) with a pesto sauce, sautéed zucchini and tomatoes with oregano, and pasta (whole wheat orzo) tossed with feta cheese and a tomato relish (garlic, onion, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, and assorted herbs).  It proved to be a great dinner and a wonderful pairing for the wine.

Haddock with Pesto

Wine:  A centuries-old Greek white wine grape, Malagousia was rescued from near extinction in the late 20th century by the the winemaker, Evangelos Gerovassilou. Although Malagousia was previously grown almost exclusively as a blending grape, it has emerged today as a highly favored single varietal, grown mostly in Central Greece and Greek Macedonia. The Domaine Gerovassilou winery is located in Epanomi near the town of Thessaloniki in the coastal part of Greek Macedonia.

Malagousia (Greek White)

Tasting Notes:  A deep golden color. The scent of mock orange along with tropical fruits. A delicious medley of fresh, ripe tropical fruits carries over to the palate. There is some minerality, as well, to sharpen the flavors. This is a great sipping wine, the flavors calling out for one more taste. But it is also an excellent pairing for the lovely Mediterranean components of this dish, particularly the pesto sauce on the fish and the tomato relish mixed into the orzo. A great match!

Other Wines That Pair Well with Haddock and Pesto Sauce:  Chardonnay (Italy), Chablis (France), Sauvignon Blanc (California), Vermentino (Italy)

Other Food That Pairs Well with Malagousia: Chicken Satay, Asian Cuisine, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad, Pasta with Light Cream Sauce

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Greece and Argentina …a Surprising Pair

Pairing:  Spanakopita and 2013 Don David Torrontés

Food:  Spanakopita is a traditional Greek pastry made with feta cheese, spinach, and egg. Our recipe is a favorite from an old copy of Craig Claiborne’s NY Times International Cookbook, but there are lots of recipes out there from which to choose. However, our pastry is not made with the usual flakey phyllo dough found in supermarkets. Rather it is a non-layered phyllo called spitiko filo (recipe found in Diane Kochias’s cookbook, Ikaria). We’ve served ours with sausage made from chicken, feta and spinach from a nearby market, and beets from a neighbor’s garden. A very tasty combination.


Wine:  More often than not, the most successful food and wine pairings happen when both the food and the wine come from the same country or region within that country. For example, pasta with tomato sauce and a good chianti. Or boeuf bourguignon and a red burgundy. However, as one samples wines from many different parts of the world, a mental inventory begins to form (or perhaps, if you’re really organized, you’ve created a wine journal to keep track of the different flavors of different wines). Torrontés is a grape variety unique to Argentina. This pairing is an example of the food and wine coming from different parts of the world, but with flavor profiles that complement one another very nicely.


Tasting:  A delightful, gentle lemon aroma is what comes right to the nose. That same light lemon flavor combined with a hint of green melon describes the taste of this very nice simple wine. The taste of lemon or other citrus can sometimes be too harsh in a wine. This Torrontés hits the mark with a sort of sweet acidity, but remains a refreshing dry wine. It should be noted that lemon is an important dimension of Greek cuisine, so it’s no surprise that this wine is such a good complement to this meal.

Other Wines that Pair Well with This Food:  Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Verdicchio, Assyrtiko (Greek)

Others Foods that Pair Well with This Wine: White Fish, Asian Food, Shellfish (Oysters, Mussels, etc.), Mexican Food

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