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Jul 8, 2008
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Wine With Greek-Style Shrimp

by Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas       

With its infusion of Feta cheese, this shrimp concoction has a distinctly Greek flavor, and like many such Mediterranean dishes, it is best enjoyed with fresh, youthful wines.  Keeping that concept in mind, it's a remarkably versatile way to serve shrimp that will taste wonderful with many different wines-red, white and pink-ranging from New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs to Pinot Noirs from the Pacific Northwest.  In the collection of wines we sampled, only a couple were rejected immediately-namely, a Rioja that was marginally too big and overpowering for even this relatively robust food, and a graceless Chardonnay overburdened with oak.  (How often these overoaked Chards fail to harmonize with food!)  Alas, the Chablis we'd chilled was so badly corked that we weren't able to put it to the test, but we suspect it would have been a winner.  We had high hopes for bubbly, especially on a warm summer evening, but both the Prosecco and the California Blanc de Blancs that we tried were pleasantly refreshing, yet ultimately a tad too delicate in flavor for the complex mélange of textures and salty/ briny/ sweet flavors in this dish. 

Greek-Style Shrimp

We served this over a mixture of brown and wild rices, but it is equally delicious with regular white rice, or over a pasta such as orzo.  For a more rustic but equally tasty alternative, grill 4 large slices of good country or peasant bread.  Rub the toasted bread with garlic, place each slice in the bottom of a soup bowl, drizzle a little olive oil over it, and spoon the shrimp mixture over the top.

Serves 4

1 quarter cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
Dried red pepper flakes to taste
¾ cup dry white wine
1 large tomato, cut in large dice
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup minced cilantro
1 cup crumbled Feta cheese

Place the olive oil, garlic and a half teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes in a large skillet and cook over medium heat until the garlic softens.  Pour in the wine, add the tomato, and simmer for about 5-8 minutes, or until the tomato has softened.  Add the shrimp and cilantro and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp have just turned pink (do not overcook).  Add the Feta and stir until the cheese has just about all melted.  Serve immediately.

 

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

 

Edna Valley Vineyard, San Luis Obispo County (California) Pinot Noir 'Paragon' 2006

 

  $16

 

Soft, supple and very fresh, the one red wine we're recommending tastes of ripe strawberries with a hint of sweet spice in the background.  Light in color and silky, it tastes and feels true to the variety-unlike many contemporary California Pinots.  A bigger wine probably would overpower the dish, but this quite genteel rendition worked very nicely.

 

 

 

Fillaboa, Rias Baixas (Spain) Albariño 2007 (Imported by Folio Wine Company)

 

 

 

 $19

 

Full of ripe peach flavor, this wine tastes succulent.  Its almost sweet fruit is buttressed by a streak of crisp acidity, giving it definition and focus, and so preventing it from seeming flabby or heavy.

That juicy character helped the dish itself taste brighter and fresher than it did with most of the other wines we tried.

 

 

 

Mercer Estates, Columbia Valley (Washington) Pinot Gris 2007

 

 

 

 $15

 

Though its fruit profile is quite different, with flavors resembling pears, golden delicious apples and honeydew melons, this wine offered many of the same virtues as the Albariño when paired with the shrimp.  Fresh and juicy, it made the dish seem vibrant.  

 

 

 

Neil Ellis, Groenekloof (South Africa) Sauvignon Blanc 2007

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

 

 

  $19

 

A very herbaceous and indeed pugnacious Sauvignon Blanc, this wine seems almost nerve-tingling.  Its bracing character provided something of a foil for the sweet shrimp and tomatoes, while accenting the cilantro and the salty feta in the dish.  

 

 

 

 

Ott Selection, Côtes de Provence (France) Vin Rosé 'Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret' 2007

(Imported by Maisons Marques & Domaines)

 

 

 $21

 

A classic Provençal rosé, with subtle but deep red berry flavors and notes that echo dried herbs in the finish, this wine was a near perfect partner for a dish that also tasted simultaneously light and substantial.