What to pair with '98 Musar?

Will be watching “Wine & War” this weekend, and pairing with a 1998 Chateau Musar I picked up a few months back. Wondering if anyone has any recommended dinner pairings? Is it as simple as steak and potatoes?

I expect steak and potatoes would be ok but would roast the potatoes with a lot of herbs eg. za’atar.

Personally, I would be making something tomato and herbal from the region, like imam bayildi or shakshuka.

It’s extremely versatile with most foods, but especially since you’re opening it to be in the moment with the movie, I’d say cook or buy some middle eastern meat dishes.

Hard to go wrong.

Musakhan is always my “go to” dish.

I use seasoned brown rice instead of flatbread or noodles. The comparative sweetness of sumac seasoned chicken with the smoky, earthy, plum notes from an aged Musar is always amazing.

  • 1998 Chateau Musar - Lebanon, Bekaa Valley (4/24/2021)
    Executive Summary: At 3 hours slo-ox this wine was brilliant.
    Cork began to crumble as the corkscrew entered so I was extra cautious opening. Fully soaked at the bottom, the cork broke off at the very end of removal but was able to complete extraction with the remaining cork intact. Opulent aromas exploded out of the bottle even before the remaining cork was fully removed – heat, dark plums, cedar, cigar box, and smoke on the nose. I decided to slo-ox and not decant because the nose was so fragrant – I worried the decant may break-up what promises to be an excellent wine. At one hour I poured 2oz and the nose was brilliant – earthy, cedar, singed wood, mushrooms; on the palate nice minerality, red cherries, slightly tannic but delicious. The wine softened over the next hour+ with the tannins resolving into a luscious earthy cherry finish. After 2.5 hours it was served with Musakhan over cardamom Basmati rice and the wine remained fragrant with gentle minerality on the palate revealing delicious earthy and smoky flavors of red cherry and plum followed by a smooth savory finish for 30 seconds. A fantastic performance. (93 pts.)

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Have an 04 open as I write this. Musar is really more of a Southern Rhone-styled wine, with meaty and herbal and red fruited notes, good acidity, and a background of brett and VA. I think if you treat it as a Southern Rhone for pairing, it works well.

Gamy meats do well, as do braises of chicken, beef or lamb. It can stand up to spice.
Just because it’s from the middle east, you don’t need to pair middle eastern food with it…

Although it may have a SoRho cepage, I feel like Musar has a different taste profile - lighter in body, yet just as much flavor intensity. And with time, even an older Rioja kind of orange peel note.

Hard to argue with simpler foods to go with such a complex, classy wine.


I thought the documentary was pretty good too, although more of a Hochar hagiography.

As others have said, Musar is extremely versatile. I think of it as a cross between Rhone and Bordeaux with a dash of Burgundy. Be careful with the pure S Rhone comparison — this isn’t an over alcoholic, fruit bomb, but I would say Beaucastel with higher Mourvèdre in the blend, nice balance, and gamey character is a decent comp.

I would have it with just about any meat dish, but I tend to have it with Middle Eastern dishes. Order yourself some kabobs from your nearest Persian restaurant (I’m biased as I’m half Iranian). Also great with Mediterranean dishes, Israeli kabobs, etc.

Really hard to go wrong. Just make sure you decant off the sediment and let it breathe for an hour. So many times I’ve drank the wine too quickly only to find it hits another gear with enough air.

I’d go a step further and say really spend the evening watching it go different places. Musar transforms more, and more times, over an evening than any wine I can think of.

We normally do braised lamb if we are having Musar. Though the pairing usually starts the other way around.

I echo what others have said, don’t rush drinking it once you get it decanted and some air. I’ve had many bottles where the last glass is the best.

Also - on another note, the second wine labeled “Hochar” is such a stupidly good, under the radar QPR I’m not even sure why I’m mentioning it.

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It’s so weird, I am a huge fan of Musar, and I’ve never had that bottling. Or maybe I did just once a long time ago. I never really see it, but obviously I could look it up on WSPro and get some.

If I were going to dive in, what’s a good recent vintage I should try?

We’ve been drinking the 2015 recently. It definitely needs some time and is young but really fleshes out with a few hours in a decanter.