A good deal at the Mad Greek

Sula Chenin Blanc

In these tough economic times, many local restaurants are struggling. Some have met this challenge by cutting back on staff, portion size or quality—much to the dismay of their customers. Others have relied on creative solutions and new ideas. The Mad Greek, at the top of Cedar Hill, is one of the latter.

Through the end of January, at least, they are offering any bottle of wine on their list for only $22. While they still have very good wines by the glass, at $22 you can put a little more zing into your meal. If you don’t finish the bottle, Ohio law allows you to bring it home.

The Mad Greek’s wine list offers a good selection of California and Australian wines, with a smattering of wines from other places. What really impressed me, however, were the choices of unique wines. I started with a glass of the 2008 Sula Chenin Blanc from India. This was the first Indian wine I had ever tasted. Aromas of honey and oranges emerged once the wine warmed up a bit. It is substantial, slightly sweet and thoroughly enjoyable, and a great match for spicy foods.

Greece makes some excellent white wines and the list features four of these. I wanted a bit more adventure, though, and decided to try a dry Greek red. I selected a bottle of the 2006 Kouros Nemia, made from the Agiorgitiko grape in the Nemea region of Greece. It drinks a lot like a Bordeaux wine. With a nose of dusty cherries, the palate has cherries and dried cherries with some green bell pepper and a bit of cigar tobacco. This one needed a bit of air to really open up. It’s a good choice to go with lamb and other Greek dishes.

Finally, I had a glass of Keo St. John Commandaria from Cypress. This dessert wine is especially nice on a cold winter evening. It’s very viscous with dried apricots and chocolate notes. There are very few restaurants anywhere where you can drink a glass of wine from India, Greece and Cypress all in the same evening. Add to that reasonable pricing and great food and it’s easy to see why the Mad Greek is a Cleveland Heights institution.

Loren Sonkin lives in Cleveland Heights. He is the winemaker for SonkinCellars.com in California and writes for IntoWine.com.

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Volume 3, Issue 1, Posted 9:13 AM, 12.16.2009