March is all about epic matchups; be it on the NCAA basketball court or tableside at Ēma. In the spirit of going head-to-head, we challenged Ēma’s Chef/ Partner CJ Jacobson and Wine Director Ryan Arnold to pair up some of Ēma’s signature mezze dishes with the ultimate Mediterranean wine pairing.
On one side, we have Chef CJ’s Mediterranean share plates all with a California influence – think spicy hummus, lamb and beef kefta, grilled octopus, and more.
On the other side, Ema’s wine list created by Ryan Arnold, consisting of more than 40 wines (some exclusive to the restaurant) from countries across the Mediterranean including Croatia, Greece, Italy, Morocco, and more.
In this rendition of mezze madness, it’s not about winning or losing since all of these matchups are winners. So ladies and gentleman, we now present you your final four matchups. Let’s get ready to rumble.
The first matchup: Spicy Hummus + Domaine Spiropolus
This wine from Greece has a copper color due to skin contact which gives it a unique texture and weight that matches the umaminess of hummus. In addition, there is a touch of sugar in this one, which helps temper the heat in this dish.
The second matchup: Pan Roasted Romanesque Cauliflower + Ixsir “Altitudes”
This is a crazy cool blend (muscat/viognier/sauvigno blanc/semillon) from a high “altitude” vineyard in Lebanon. This dish was hard to match-up. The addition of vioginer and semillon adds ripe, tropical fruit honeyed characteristic that matches the texture of the yogurt.
The third matchup: Grilled Octopus + Centonze Frappato
No one does Octopus better than my favorite place on earth, Sicily. I always like to include a red with seafood and Frappatto is an indigenous, red grape of Sicily. The Centonze family makes an unoaked, light-bodied wine that has crazy aromas of dried red flowers, cherry and cinnamon. The wine is subtle enough to let the Kale and fingerlings shine through and complement the Octopus.
The fourth matchup: Lamb & Beef Kefta + Domaine Maestracci “E Prove”
Domaine Maestracci “E Prove” is made from eh ingenious grape of Corsica, Nielluccio. This wine is light-bodied and has rustic, bramble fruit characteristic. Soft tannins give this wine slight grip at the finish that melds well with the texture and flavor the lamb and beef.
Want to try some of Chef CJ and Ryan’s wine and food pairings? Join us for Ema’s first wine dinner on Wednesday, March 29 at 6:30 p.m. The dinner will be led by winemaker Rajat Parr and feature wines from Sandhi Winery in Santa Barbara, California, served alongside a mezze feast. For more information or to reserve your spot, click here.