Xinomav-what? Xinomavro + Skewered Lamb

May 12, 2016

it’s all Greek to me!

Like many of you, our first experience with Greek wine was poured from a bottomless communal jug at the neighbourhood Greek Taverna. Thinking ourselves exceedingly sophisticated just barely past legal drinking age, we feasted on flaming saganaki and creamy tzatziki slathered on pita served with skewers of lamb souvlaki. BTW….it was actually beef because we didn’t like lamb back then. Little did we know this was first date sabotage….we underestimated the garlic factor when it came time for the good night kiss.

Fast forward 20 years later, and everything old becomes new again. Xinomavro, a long forgotten Greek red wine is having a moment. 

We are reminded of the old adage ‘if it grows together is goes together’ and found ourselves super curious to see if this would be a pairing worthy of the village matchmaker.


did you know…

  • pronounced K-see NOH mah vroh
  • Xinomavro hails from the Naoussa region of northern Greece; vineyards are planted on the foothills of Mount Vermion
  • the name translates to ‘acid black’, a reference to the wine’s acidic backbone
  • Xinoour princess warrior, is powerful but at the same time delicately feminine 
  • the Xinomavro grape has a striking similarity to Nebbiolo based Barolo and Barberesco, but at a fraction of the price; it’s your go-to as a Barolo lover on a budget

Xinomavro + Skewered Lamb with Yogurt and Mint

serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer

For the skewers:

2 lbs ground lamb
3 T fresh oregano, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
½ C red wine (yes, use the Xinomavro and taste as you go…quality control people!)
1 ½ t Kosher salt
1 t sumac (plus more for garnish)
wooden, bamboo or grape vine skewer for grilling

For the garnish:

1/3 C Greek yogurt for dolloping
1/3 C torn fresh mint
1/3 C honey (we used a delicious smoked variety)
Sumac for garnish
Cracked fresh black pepper for garnish

  1. Preheat grill. Lightly brush grates with vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, combine all the ingredients for the lamb.
  3. Form into 2” long logs; thread skewers through logs lengthwise. We know you won’t remember to soak the skewers in water, so just make sure they are well covered in meat so they don’t catch on fire!
  4. Cook the skewers 3-4 minutes per side, until just cooked through. Turn once only… manhandling the meat with only create a ground lamb bonfire on your grill!
  5. Arrange on a large platter. Dollop with assorted garnishes.
  6. Bring to the table and enjoy family style with a jug o’ wine. Opa!

what we chose to pair and why

Xinomavro’s firm tannic structure and crisp acidity call out for fatty meat full of flavour.


  • Pale red colour with a brick-ish hue
  • Aromas of ripe red fruit, savoury black olive, sundried tomato
  • Delicate rose scented aroma; hints of vanilla and cinnamon spice
  • On the palate the wine is juicy, crisply acidic with firm tannins


  • the juicy, fruity flavour of the wine deliciously contrasts the earthy smoky meat
  • bite for bite, the wine’s acidity refreshes the palate; the fatty richness of the lamb softens the firm tannins
  • sweetness and light in the honey and yogurt bring it all together enhancing the wine’s sweet and dried fruit flavours


Xinomavro and lamb are a match even the Greek gods would approve. Dionysus knew a thing or two about wine, agriculture and fertility… so it’s only fitting that these two things growing together would go together beautifully.

our wines…

Boutari Xinomavro

2013, Naoussa Greece

Boutari winery was founded in 1879 and is among Greece’s most reputable wine merchants. They own six wineries in Greece that are situated in some of the most important winemaking regions. Their Naoussa winery is the oldest in the region and their Xinomavro is a benchmark of the style.


$  steal of a deal


Boutari Grande Reserve Xinomavro

2010, Naoussa Greece

Classic red fruit flavours (strawberry and raspberry), savoury black olive and earthy mushroom notes. Perfect to drink now but also has great aging potential.The Grande Reserve is aged 4 years before release, two in oak barrel and two in bottle.


$$  good friends for dinner

Like a good friend…we are just trying to push you outside of your comfort zone.

Live a little and expand your palate.



Christie Pollard

Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers

After 10 years as a restaurateur, culinary instructor and caterer, a trip to France sparked an untapped enthusiasm for all things wine.  I gave up the restaurant life,  made a huge u-turn and dove head first into the vast world of wine.  I have never looked back and achieved my Sommelier certification with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers in 2015.  I love sharing my pursuit of the perfect pairing in a fun, unfussy and ultimately delicious way with my friends, family and those I teach.


Josie Pontarelli

Red Seal Chef, Culinary Instructor

I graduated from the Stratford Chefs School in 1999 and achieved Red Seal Certification shortly thereafter. With this strong foundation laid, an opportunity to spend time in California presented itself. While there, I was intoxicated by the seasonality and quality of the ingredients everywhere I looked. This experience proved to be a turning point for me in how I thought about food. It inspired me to have a deep and enduring respect for the people, food and culture that go into the perfect dish.

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