What Pairs With Eggplant?
When our daughter popped into town for Memorial Day, she started cooking up a storm. She’s a vegan chef and baker and takes over the kitchen when visiting. I was told all I had to do was pick the wine. That’s easier said than done when the main dish is moussaka.
Moussaka is a Mediterranean dish made with eggplant, potatoes, tomatoes and white sauce. Often it includes ground meat – but not in this vegan version. A white wine might work and a Pinot Noir would be an obvious choice. But when others zig, I zag.
I surveyed the bottles in the cellar and grabbed The Môreson 2013 Pinotage from South Africa, dubbed “The Widow Maker.”
When I brought the wine to the dinner table, Green Dragon promptly queried, “we still have wine from South Africa?” Indeed we do – although there might only be one other bottle left. We brought back 11 bottles in our luggage from our trip in 2015.
South Africa is a wonderful country with amazing scenery, food, wine and people. One of our favorite locales is Franschhoek, a small town in wine country founded by French Huguenots fleeing persecution in Europe. They brought their love of food and skill in winemaking.
Not only is the wine spectacular – but it was inexpensive due to a favorable exchange rate. The pricing allowed us to buy premium bottles for pocket change. Our visit to Môreson was particularly nice as we enjoyed a bottle of sparkling Cap Classique wine and lunch there.
My memories of South Africa were chased away by the arrival of our first course, a fattoush salad with toasted pita croutons. With that came the first sip of our Pinotage.
Pinotage is a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsaut (which the South Africans call Hermitage). The grape was developed in the 1920s, but didn’t garner much attention until it won several awards in the late 1950s.
While it can be a uniquely satisfying drinking experience, I don’t care for much of the Pinotage out there. It has too much barnyard funk and not enough fruit.
With the Môreson, that is no issue. The Widow Maker is made from the oldest – and original – Pinotage vines in South Africa. It is consistently rated in the top 10 of Pinotage in South Africa – which is similar to having a top 10 cheese in Wisconsin.
Our entrée was served with Middle Eastern green beans and rice and lentil pilaf. The moussaka had a creamy texture thanks to a silky Béchamel sauce. The Widow Maker has a smooth and rich body – moussaka, you’ve met your match!
There are earth notes in the wine, but the leading flavor is that of juicy black cherry and plum. There are also graphite notes. It’s really a sipping delight. Without a doubt, it is the best Pinotage we’ve had.
The current vintage (2016) is listed on the Môreson website with an R 250 price, which is about $17 US. That’s an outlandishly good price for this wine which would be a $40 to $50 bottle if produced in the US.