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Lebanon doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking about all the wine-making regions in the world, but this tiny Mediterranean country has a long and colorful wine history, and the results are a delight to sip and discover. Lebanon was part of the biblical land of Canaan, where Jesus Christ (the Original Winemaker) dazzled a crowd with the first happy hour ever.  Take that, Phoenicians! Then the Jesuits further refined the art of modern wine-making in Lebanon, which enjoys fertile soil and ideal grape-growing conditions.  Those could be the very same Jesuits who hopped boats to Ireland to produce whiskey. After World War I, the Ottoman Empire was dissolved and Lebanon came under French influence, spawning many wine châteaus throughout its lands. Here in DC, you can find such wines at the very authentic Lebanese restaurant Kababji Grill, which has 21 in stock, mostly from the Bekaa Valley.  This region produces intense, supple and aromatic wines that are full of energy and character. “[Lebanon] is starting to produce a rather big array,” says Philippe Chamoun, COO for Kababji Grill.  “A lot of things are bold, a lot of things are on the lighter side. We’re starting to make really great rosés.”
  • Rosés are very popular in France and the rest of Europe, and are gaining popularity again here in the U.S.  One to ask for is Château Musar’s Jeune Rosé, salmon pink in color, smooth, mellow, spicy and softly-oaked.
  • “Most of the popular wines in Lebanon are blends,” says Chamoun.  One of my personal favorites is Massaya’s Grenache Blend, dark red in color, medium-bodied, spicy and bright with cherry flavors. It has a long and elegant finish.
  • They say “what grows together goes together,” and Lebanese wines pair perfectly with crispy kebbeh (ground beef, roasted pine nuts, pistachios with cucumber yogurt); shish taouk (marinated, grilled chicken breast skewers); and seasoned lamb or beef kababs.
  • Try the fatayer jibneh (pita topped with white cheddar, mozzarella, parsley and mint) with Château Ksara’s Chardonnay which is light, smooth, with spicy flavors of citrus, peaches and honey.
Kababji Grill 1351 Connecticut Avenue NW Washington, DC 20036 (202) 822-8999 Metro: Red Line to Dupont Circle. Just steps away.

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