Kebab is an old-time favorite in the Turkish cuisine and a good kebab might as well be one of the tastiest things you will ever try. It is truly a staple dish and you can find all kinds of varieties of kebab in both the fanciest restaurants as in street food carts all throughout Turkey. However, the success of good kebab does not solely depend on the meat, it´s also very important what you pair this delicious dish with. Hence, when planning a kebab meal, don´t just focus on the meat but also think about what side dishes and drinks you are going to order (or serve, when you´re organizing a kebab dinner for family or friends in your home).
Kebab can be made of different types of meat but what they all have in common is that the meat is cooked with flames. Since the meat has pretty strong flavors already, the sides dishes are often fresh and simple. Examples of great side dishes are couscous with roasted peppers, feta and mint, tomatoes with chickpea salad, grilled zucchini salad, red cabbage salad, snap peas with cucumber and ginger, greens with radishes and snap peas, spinach salad, or grilled veggies. Plenty choose from! Also, the pairing of the wine is a delicate job because not all wines go well with the bold smoked flavors that come from the grill.
Let´s see what could be good wines for the different types of kebab:
- Probably the most famous type is kebab made of lamb minced meat. This dish is quite greasy since the fat is usually also used in different ways while preparing it. Spicy and lots of meat and fat probably calls for a strong red of dark fruits, like for example, Chilean Sauvignon or Merlot or Malbec from Argentina.
- The chicken shish kebab is often a bit lighter and therefore could be well-paired with lighter red wines (or even white wines make a good match here!) such as the reds from the Rhône region in France.
- Lamb is not only used in its minced meat version for kebab, there is also a lamb shish variety using the shoulder of the lamb. Here you should think about drinking fuller-bodied reds like Ribera del Duero or wines from South-West France.
- Another, less known, kebab option is the lamb belly. There is a lot of fat involved here so you will want to pair this one with red wines with great acidity. Good options here are Syrah from the Northern Rhône region or Côte-Rôtie (although that one can be quite expensive).
- If you´re lucky you might also try kebab from quail and this combines very well with Pinot Noir or other lighter red wines.
In Turkey, you will often see kebab accompanied by the typical Turkish lager Efes, however if you are really looking for a drink to enhance the amazing smoky flavors of the kebab, even more, a well paired red is your way to go.
What are your recommendations for pairing with kebab?