Thursday, January 17, 2013

Armenians satisfy Beirut's thirst for sweetness

The Badguer, from the Lebanon Star
It's hard to imagine, but Armenians have come up with a new contribution to tastes of Lebanon: pomegranate wine.

The fruit itself is popular throughout the Near and Middle East, but it holds a special place in Armenian culture and lore—and, apparently, in our wine vats.

The Daily Star of Lebanon reports that the sweetly tart and distinctly Armenian drink made a debut splash at the Beirut Cooking Festival in November.

The wine was introduced at the festival by the Badguer Restaurant and Heritage Center, where pomegranate images adorn the dining room. Badguer founder Arpi Mangassarian explained the Armenian affinity for pomegranates by saying the fruit's presence "makes us feel there is balance and joy and prosperity."

The wine has since spread beyond the city's Armenian community, as others are drawn to its unique flavor. There aren't enough pomegranates grown locally to support wine making, so merchants are making overtures to importers.

Oddly, one likely source is America, where pomegranates have gained popularity along with a health-boosting reputation in recent years.

While Lebanese are clearly drawn to the taste of pomegranate wine by itself, there's still a question of how well its distinctly sweet flavor complements dishes in the country's varied cuisine.

 “I think it will catch on in Lebanon, but the question is what can you consume it with?" said local wine expert Elie Maamari.  "Maybe cheese or dessert."

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