August 01, 2022 by Arden Montgomery
Best Wine for Persian Food
Rich, vibrant, and flavorful as the history of the region itself, Persian or Iranian cuisine is a delectable amalgamation of culinary traditions from both within and around the ancient country. In actuality, Persian food defines a region with no less than 6 separate traditions encompassed, each offering their own interpretations and local ingredients into the national cookbook. Members of the Iranian diaspora have also brought these tastes and practices with them to many cities around the globe, seeding well-loved foodie hotspots in London, San Francisco, Houston, Toronto, Los Angeles, and more.
Persian food ranges from light and vibrant to rich and creamy to hot and spicy and everything in between. And, of course, for each dish on the menu, there’s an ideal bottle of wine to go with it.
How to pair wine with Persian food
A 1996 archaeological discovery in the Zagros mountains indicated that the traditions of wine making in Iran stretch back more than 7000 years, demonstrating an ancient viticultural practice which co-evolved with broader food practices in the area. The Middle East more broadly is believed to be the original birthplace of wine and wine-making, and so the grape-made beverage has deep ties to cultural identity for many within these communities.
Under the current Iranian government, the consumption of wine and other alcohol has been made illegal. The jury is still out on how effective this law has been at keeping glasses out of hands, but it has put a dampener on cultivation and fermentation within the country. We must then find our Persian pairings from other vineyards.
How you pick your wine should be based on both the seasonings giving the dish its flavor as well as the texture of the main base, which may be creamy, meaty, crisp, or starchy. Aromatics like garlic, onion, parsley, and cilantro call for a crisp, acidic white like a Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. Vibrant spices like cumin or Harissa might prefer a sweeter white such as a Riesling, or an earthy red like a Pinot Noir or Syrah.
Creamy, yogurt-based sauces pair beautifully with light Rosés, while kebabs, gyros, and other meat-based dishes need a bit of effervescence or a darker red to hold up their weight. Starchy dishes including potato and bean-based foods are also big fans of bubbles, or a funky Chard.
Let’s take a second to back up these broad suggestions with a few specific recommendations from the Argaux cellar itself.
Best wine for Persian food
- 2020 Bodega Chacra Patagonia Chardonnay – $115
Old-growth vines lovingly cultivated in the Rio Negro Valley of Patagonia produced the otherworldly grapes that went into this utter gem of a Chardonnay. It’s light, fragrant, creamy, and floral, with none of the boulangerie-heaviness of wines of the same name. Notes of lime yogurt beg for this wine to be paired with a traditional Tacheen – baked saffron rice with yogurt and chicken.
- 2017 Young Inglewood VENN Skin Contact Sauvignon Blanc – $35
A saffron-hued beverage is a natural pair for cuisine that leans deeply into this fragrant spice to flavor its fare. This skin-contact Sauvignon Blanc has versatile applications when it comes to food pairings – to have your mind blown on the first bite, sip alongside a dish of jujeh chicken kebabs. Or, for a dash of deja-vu, try with Persian Love Cake to see how the notes of cardamom and vanilla in the wine boost these same flavors in your edible.
- 2018 Piro Presqu’ile Vineyard Pinot Noir – $44
Dubbed “the ultimate dinner party wine” by the team at Argaux, this is the bottle you reach for if you’ve been invited to an Iranian feast. It’s an extremely food-friendly Pinot with the power to enhance a variety of flavorful dishes without overwhelming their more delicate notes. Bright and with a berry-forward palate, we think this wine will shine next to borani-bademjan: a spicy, super-flavorful cousin to baba ganoush.
- NV Domaine de la Taille Aux Loups Triple Zéro Rosé Pet Nat – $39
The inclusion of rose petals and rose water in so many Iranian dishes begs for the inclusion of a rosé in our list today. Far from being a dessert wine, this bottle of bubbles longs to be partnered with something savory and super, super starchy. Effervescent and lively with a sweet and fruity palate, this wine is for you if your gaux-to is a classic falafel plate with hummus and pita.
- 2020 Cargaux Syrah – $45
Lighter Persian dishes are often flavorful enough on their own to stand up to the earthen tempers of a deep and dark red, like this cool-climate Syrah from South Africa. Couscous, veggies, and tabbouleh are a great match for this wine as their acidity and fragrance will blend with the fruitiness of the Cargaux to create something new. Carnivores won’t miss anything, either, as this wine brings its own with notes of peppered meat on the tongue.
- 2017 Anomaly Vineyards Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon – $160
Go ahead and start planning your 2042 pilgrimage now, because this wine will be just as delicious 20 years in the future as it is right now. A treat to be savored slowly, this wine tells you exactly what dish it wants to be paired with by fronting notes of cinnamon, orange zest, roast meat, vanilla, and cherry. Tahdig – another saffron rice dish made with cherries, pistachios, orange zest, cinnamon, and yogurt – is this wine’s ideal mate.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of flavor and luxury laid out before you in this article, allow us to narrow it down for you.
Choose our Wine 101 Tasting Kit, which our team of sommeliers has curated by grape variety. Each kit will include 3 bottles of wines: 2 classic examples of the grape selected and 1 “wild card.” Think of it as a way to learn more about your favorite grape, while being introduced to its long lost cousin..