You’ve broken all of your new year resolutions, haven’t you? Don’t worry, because those that involve wine are the easiest to keep! How about this? Try a new-to-you wine, whether it’s from a region you’ve never explored or a grape variety that that you haven’t yet discovered. And for fun, why don’t you pair that new wine with a recipe that may be far from your comfort zone? I did just that by choosing two wines (sent as samples) from Morocco’s Domaine Ouled Thaleb and a recipe for Moroccan Lamb Tagine.

This month, my wine and food pairing colleagues on twitter are suggesting a plethora of new wines and food pairing ideas (see links below) heralding a year that’s getting off to a luscious start. Join us at 11 am EST on Saturday, January 14 for our Wine Pairing Weekend group’s always lively twitter chat about everything food and wine. Simply use the hashtag #winePW and share a favorite new wine while we share ours.

Raise your glass if you’ve tasted wine from Morocco! Until I received wines from Domaine Ouled Thaleb, I had not. Almost all Moroccans are Muslim, a religion that forbids alcohol consumption, but the wine industry is doing quite well. In fact, over 40 million bottles of wine are produced each year; 37 million of those bottles are consumed and enjoyed in Morocco.

Domaine Ouled Thaleb is Morocco’s oldest working winery and boasts almost 570 acres of planted vines and 19 varieties of hand harvested grapes. Cultivated under the brilliant Moroccan sun and balmy breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, most of their fruit is estate grown. Grapes sourced from neighboring growers help winemaker Stephane Marriot craft wines that are classic and memorable – those that I tasted certainly were. Established in 1923, Domaine Ouled Thaleb is located in the Zenata coastal appellation, one of 15 wine producing regions in Morocco, located between Casablanca and Rabat. As an influential player, the winery championed the revitalization of the Moroccan wine industry in the 1990s.

 

Moroccan wine
Photo credit: moroccotravelblog.files.wordpress.com

The Ouled Thaleb Signature 2013 ($28) was 50% Marselan (a cross of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache), 35% Petit Verdot, and 15% Carmenere. Light, fresh aromas with notes of red fruit, hint of forest floor, thyme, herbs, and minerality were an enticing gateway to the flavors in the glass: dark fruit compote, leather, earth, dark chocolate, and herbs. Each sip was lifted with fresh acidity and met with bold, gripping tannins. On the finish, lingering notes of red fruit, purple flowers and spice impressed the previously circumspect foodies and wine lovers at my table. Although the Signature 2013 was a scrumptious complement to the myriad of spices in the Moroccan Lamb Tagine, it could also be served with lighter dishes such as olive tapenade for a starter or roast chicken as an entrée.

Moroccan wine
 

Our next wine, Ouled Thaleb Aït Souala 2012 ($24) was a full-bodied blend of 50% Arinarnoa (a cross of Merlot and Petit Verdot), 25% Tannat, and 25% Malbec. I readily admit: I can’t imagine savoring the Moroccan Lamb Tagine without this wine. Wafting from the glass were intense aromas of black cherries, blueberries, raspberries, a hint of ginger, and smoke. Warm, tingly notes of blackberries, raisins, cinnamon, and vanilla were evident on the palate and with its bright acidity, velvety tannins, and lingering finish of fruit and spice, this wine was one of the most interesting I’ve had in a while. Honestly, the Ouled Thaleb Aït Souala 2012 and the Moroccan Lamb Tagine could be one of my favorite food pairings to date. (But, the bonus is that this wine can be enjoyed with anything!)

Moroccan wine

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Ingredients

  • 4lb fat-trimmed boned lamb shoulder or other cut suitable for stewing (rinsed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks)
  • 2 onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeledd and minced)
  • 1 tablespoon each: ground turmeric, ground cinnamon, and minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 1/2 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
  • 1 can diced tomatoes ((14 1/2 oz.))
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • fluffy couscous
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • preserved lemons ((garnish))
  • Harissa ((garnish))

Directions

Step 1
Brown lamb in heavy-bottomed 5-6 quart pan. Discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pan.
Step 2
Add onions and garlic to pan; stir often over medium heat until onions begin to get limp, 3-5 minutes.
Step 3
Add paprika, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, and cardamom; stir until very fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Step 4
Add broth, tomatoes (including juices) and tomato paste. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally until lamb is tender when pierced, about 1 hour. Skim off and discard any fat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Step 5
On dinner plates or large rimmed platter, mound couscous and form a well in the center.
Step 6
With a slotted spoon, transfer lamb and vegetables to well. Measure pan juices - if less than 3 cups, add water to make that amount. Return pan juices to pan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt to taste.
Step 7
Pour juices into a bowl and pass to add taste. Scatter olives and cilantro over lamb. Garnish with lemon and Harissa, if desired.

Moroccan wine and lamb tagine

Cheers to trying something new! ~ Cindy

You can join the conversation about new wine and food pairings. Our live #winePW Twitter Chat will take place this Saturday, January 14, at 11 a.m. Eastern Time. Just tune into the #winePW hashtag between 11 and noon ET that day. Check out past and upcoming Wine Pairing Weekend events here.

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8 comments

  1. Michelle Williams

    Reply

    Love your wine selections Cindy. And pairing with lamb is perfect. I love lamb! Cheers.

  2. Reply

    I’ve never had a Moroccan wine Cindy, but both of yours sound wonderful And I know they paired well with your lamb tagine (I love a good tagine – It’s been way too long since I’ve had some) Cheers Cindy

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