May 14, 2024

Pairing Wine with Lebanese Dishes: Inspiration from Maha’s Expert Pairings

As a chef, I've always been passionate about enhancing the dining experience through perfect wine pairings. The interplay of flavors, when the right wine complements a dish, is simply magical.

Over my years in the kitchen, I've tasted countless pairings and learned which wines make Lebanese dishes truly sing.

In this blog, I'll share my expertise in pairing wine with Lebanese food's vibrant and complex flavors. From bright, herby mezza plates to rich meat stews, every dish has an ideal wine partner to elevate its taste.

We'll also explore expert tips, cover classic grape varietals, and reveal some of my personal favorites that never fail to impress.

Why does Food and Wine Pairing Matter

Food and wine pairing is more than just having a drink with your meal. When done skillfully, the right wine pairing creates beautiful synergy, with the wine's fruit flavors mirroring and bringing out the best in the dish. It adds layers of complexity that make the entire experience more vivid and enjoyable.

A great wine pairing can balance and complement food flavor intensity, stimulating your taste buds and evoking a new level of food and wine appreciation. Well-executed wine and food pairing is also crucial in running a successful restaurant by increasing customer satisfaction and revenue, building brand identity, and encouraging creativity.

A Quick Overview of Lebanese Cuisine and Its Flavors

Lebanese food is celebrated for its bright, herbal flavors from ingredients like lemon, parsley, mint, and sumac. Olive oil, garlic, onions, and spices like cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg create rich bases. Their grilled meats, stuffed veggies, creamy dips, flaky breads, and pastries cover an enticing range of flavors and textures.

This cuisine's unique blend of fresh herbs, tangy citrus, and warm spices makes it a perfect candidate for wine pairings. The complexity of flavors in Lebanese dishes demands wines that can either complement or contrast them

Expert Tips for Pairing Wine with Lebanese Food

Restaurants usually use a wine pairing chart to simplify the wine selection when pairing food. This chart categorizes wines by type and suggests the perfect pairing with specific foods. When consulting a food and wine pairing chart, consider the following tips:

  • Match intensity: A bold red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with hearty grilled steak, while delicate white wines like Pinot Grigio complement lighter flavors like seafood.
  • Consider flavor profiles: Sauvignon Blanc's citrusy fruit flavors are perfect for salty foods, while Pinot Noir's fruity sweetness can balance spicy foods or smoky flavors.
  • Experiment with contrasts: Try contrasting pairing, like pairing a high-acidity white wine with fatty foods like goat cheese or fried chicken.
  • Don't forget sparkling wines: Rosé or sparkling wine can cut through the richness of dishes like creamy hummus or grilled fish.

Elevate Your Lebanese Experience by Pairing Food with Great Wine Matches

It's important to consider the overall dish's flavor profile and intensity when considering a wine pairing for Lebanese food. Lebanese cuisine is known for its vibrant and complex flavors, ranging from delicate herb-laden dishes to rich, spicy meat preparations. Finding the right wine pairing can elevate these great food flavors and create a harmonious experience.

White Wine Pairings

White wines are light to medium-bodied with more acidity than red wines. Their high natural acidity makes them a great pairing for cutting through rich or fatty foods. White wine ranges from light and citrusy to full and oaky depending on the grape and winemaking process.

  • Sauvignon Blanc - With herbaceous, grassy notes and high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect pairing for dishes like tabbouleh and fattoush with lots of fresh herbs and lemon.
  • Pinot Grigio - Light and citrusy, Pinot Grigio has zesty lemon-lime notes that make it an ideal match for lemon chicken dishes and other lemon-accented Lebanese fare. 
  • Chardonnay - Especially oaked/barrel-aged Chardonnays, these richer, fuller-bodied whites can stand up to creamier dishes like hummus or buttery lamb stews. The oak barrels pair the wine notes of vanilla and spice with those robust flavors.

Red Wine Pairings

Red wine is generally more full-bodied with more bitterness, ranging from light and fruity to bold and earthy flavors. Their intensity allows them to pair well with hearty protein dishes and stand up to stronger spices.

  • Pinot Noir - This light to medium-bodied red has bright fruit flavors like raspberry making the Pinot Noir a perfect match for grilled meats, veggies, and spiced ground lamb dishes like kibbeh. 
  • Grenache/Syrah Blends - With a mix of red and black fruit spice plus peppery notes, these medium-to-full red wines pair perfectly with warming Levantine spices like baharat or seven spice blends.
  • Cabernet Sauvignon - A rich, full-bodied red with firm tannins and flavors of black currant and cedar. Cabernet's bold backbone stands up to intensely flavored dishes like braised lamb shanks.

Rosé and Sparkling Wine Picks

Rosé and sparkling wines shouldn't be overlooked for food pairings. With their crisp, refreshing profiles, they can cut through heavier fare or complement lighter dishes.

  • Dry Rosé - With a beautiful pink hue and flavors of red berries, a dry Provencal-style rosé is ideal for cutting through rich dips and spreads like Baba Ghanoush. 
  • Sparkling Wine - From Spanish Cava to Italian Prosecco, the bubbles and high acidity in sparkling wines make them a great match for veggie-centric dishes like falafel. 
  • Sweet Wines - For dessert or spicy dishes, a honeyed Muscat or light-bodied sweet wine like Vinho Verde makes the best pairing that refreshes the palate.

My Personal Wine and Food Pairings

Here are some of my favorite wine and food pairings you can try:

  • Kibbe Nayeh (Spiced Raw Lamb) with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc - The wine's grassy notes and high acidity are a perfect foil for the rich, spiced meat.
  • Shish Tawook (Chicken Tawook) with a Pinot Noir - A light to medium-bodied Pinot Noir with bright red fruit notes makes an excellent complementary pairing for the charred, smoky flavors of the grilled chicken without overpowering it.
  • Riz Bi Djaj (Chicken and Rice) with a Grenache/Syrah Blend - The juicy red fruit in this rich wine harmonizes beautifully with cinnamon, allspice, and chicken.
  • Knafeh (Sweet Cheese Pastry) with a Sweet Muscat - Floral and honeyed, Muscat's lush sweetness is sublime with the crispy kataifi and stringy cheese, preventing any burning sensation or bitterness from the sugars in the dessert.

As you explore and experiment with wine pairing, consider sharing your experiences and discoveries using various content marketing strategies - social media, blogs, or newsletters - to inspire others, educate customers, and drive interest and traffic to your restaurant.


No matter the Lebanese dish, there's a wine out there to make it better. Use this guide as a starting point, but don't be afraid to experiment with pairing wine yourself. Tasting is the best way to train your palate on what flavors work together.

With a little practice, you'll be crafting perfect wine pairings that showcase the very best flavors of the incredible Lebanese cuisine.





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