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  • Writer's pictureWines & Vines

KSARAK - Why Arak is The Perfect Pairing with Mezze?

Updated: Jan 11, 2021

Chateau Ksara - Ksarak, Bekaa Valley, Lebanon

An authentic representation of the Lebanese heritage and its long history in producing some of the best Arak in the region.

What is Arak?

Arak is the national drink of Lebanon. It is produced from indigenous grapes, typically Merwah, or Obeidy. It is triple- distilled and usually aged in clay for at least one year. In its pure form, Arak has a clear color, but when diluted with water the color transforms into milky- white. As Arak has high alcohol content (50-60% abv.), both water and ice are usually added.

Arak is rooted in the Lebanese culture and embedded in its traditions and customs. It is the drink of endless lunches and dinners with family and friends on terraces, backyards and restaurants. Arak is not only an aperitif, it is a drink that accompanies the entire meal of complex mezze dishes and eclectic flavors. It is the drink that is synonymous with Lebanese hospitality and way of life.

It takes more than one article or two to explain Arak and its history, to better understand Arak and learn more about, here is a book to check out : Arak and Mezze: The Taste of Lebanon - by Michael Karam and Norbert Schiller ( Photographer).

It’s a great resource; this is not just any book highlighting food and wine or Arak and its history, it is a cultural reference featuring decades of traditions and values. Capturing a culture which thrives on the principles of genuine hospitality, where family, friends, food and wine merge to form the heart and soul of good living.

Michael Karam’s vivid depictions take you on a journey to his homeland through precious memories as a child, teenager, adult, and an immigrant, who holds home close to his heart despite the distance, disappointment, pain, isolation and harsh reality of war.

Schiller’s stunning photography adds an entire world of imagination while the list of mezze recipes in the last chapter of the book are an unexpected bonus which I look forward to trying soon.

While we could rave all day about the great Lebanese cuisine, what’s most significant about this food culture is the harmonious pairing of ethnic dishes and the country’s national drink- Arak. To really appreciate the full sensation, one needs to experience a typical Lebanese lunch or dinner which can last for hours. One fundamental aspect of this food culture is the know-how to enjoy simple things in life; bonding with family, friends and loved ones over a spread of mezze and a good drink that could accompany myriads of eclectic dishes without losing its powerful presence, or diminishing specific food flavors.

Lebanese cuisine is quite acidic, especially the Mezze including Tabbouleh, Fattoush, Hummus, Baba Ganoush and Sambousek. Considering the richness of all flavors bursting simultaneously, here is where Arak tones down the acidity of food with its hints of sweetness and earthy textures; it calms down the taste-buds and cleanses the palate in a very subtle and enjoyable tone.

Ksarak Tasting Notes:

KSARAK has pronounced aromas and flavors of anise, licorice, black pepper, oregano, tarragon and thyme; it has a medium body and a pleasant finish confirming its complex herbal and spicy flavors.

Next time you’re hosting a mezze gathering, or feasting on Lebanese or Middle Eastern cuisine, think Arak, think KSARAK one of my favorite Araks of all times!

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