Moroccan cooking comes in a wealth of flavours and styles, and there’s an equally varied list of wines to accompany it. By Fiona Beckett
If you’ve travelled in Morocco you’ll know that most of the locals don’t drink, despite the fact that a fair amount of wine is produced there. It’s a legacy of the French occupation during the first half of the 20th century; Morocco has a robust wine industry – you can find a similar mix of wine styles and grape varieties in Morocco to those you find in the south of France, particularly rosé and red. Syrah, grenache, cinsault and carignan are the predominant varieties.
Moroccan food pairs well with wine, particularly wines from the south of France and neighbouring Spain. Young fruity Riojas and other tempranillos work particularly well with meat-based tagines.
Much like the middle-eastern meze, Moroccan meals start with a selection of salads and small savoury pastries such as briouats which are stuffed with spiced meat or cheese. With these you could drink a crisp dry white such as a Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc, or a Provençal rosé or Moroccan gris de gris. Lebanese rosés work too.
Domaine des Tourelles Rosé, Lebanon 2015.
A fruity, fresh rosé from the high, cool Bekaa Valley
£10.99 Hedley Wright, Kwoff, Ministry of Drinks; $10.99 winedeals.com
Seafood is often given a spicy twist with a chermoula rub or marinade (a mixture of typically Moroccan spices such as cumin, paprika with fresh herbs and fresh or preserved lemon). Crisp white wines such as Picpoul de Pinet from the Languedoc coast or an albariño would be a good match, or again a dry rosé would work.
Domaine Felines Jourdan, Provence, France 2016
Fresh-tasting and mineral
£8.50 The Wine Society, £9.95 Field & Fawcett, $12.99 Sussex Wine NYC
Tagines come in a variety of flavours. Many involve a combination of meat and fruit such as lamb tagines with quince, prunes or dates. They’re an ideal foil for a hearty Moroccan or Languedoc red. Lemony chicken tagines can take a slightly lighter red such as an inexpensive Côtes du Rhône or a rioja reserva or a neutral Italian white such as a Verdicchio.
Tandem Syrah du Maroc, Morocco 2013
A rich, spicy, a Moroccan wine from the Benslimane region of Morocco made by a well-known Rhone winemaker, Alain Graillot, who apparently met the owners while on a cycling holiday.
£11.50 The Wine Society, £14.95 Yapp Brothers
This elaborate, festive pie which is frequently made with pigeon and sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar has a marked touch of sweetness that would pair better with a red burgundy or other pinot noir than a robust full-bodied red.
Sixteen Ridges Pinot Noir, England, 2013
An unusual English pinot noir from the hilly, western county of Herefordshire, which combines true pinot character with some exotic wild berry fruit. An IWSC Silver award winner
£15.99 The Exceptional English Wine Company
Again there are many versions of this dish, some meatier than others. The presence of merguez (spicy lamb sausages) or harissa would suggest a Moroccan or even a Lebanese red but with lighter vegetable or fish-based couscous I suggest a characterful Rhône or Languedoc white
La Vieille Ferme Blanc, Luberon, France 2016
An inexpensive and delicious blend of indigenous bourboulenc, grenache blanc, ugni blanc and vermentino
£6.99 Co-op, £7.99 Waitrose
Morocco’s honey- or syrup-drenched pastries would normally be accompanied by sweet mint tea but actually pair well with a well-chilled sweet southern French muscat such as Muscat de Beaumes de Venise or Muscat de Rivesaltes or an orangey Moscatel de Valencia
Muscat de Mas Amiel 2014
£22.50 Lea & Sandeman
For more food pairing advice visit Fiona’s website matchingfoodandwine.com