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About this Episode

In this episode of CorkRules, we travel to Lebanon and Morrocco to sample wines from the exotic lands of Lebanon and Morrocco. Host Robert Tas and sommelier Michaela Quinlan explore the wine list of Ilili, a Lebanese restaurant situated on Fifth Avenue but with roots that stretch back three generations to Beruit.

Recommended wines include: 

  • The Thalvin (Alain Graillot) Zenata ‘Syrocco’ Syrah 2018
  • The Domaine des Tourelles Cinsault 2018, also from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon
  • The Massaya Blanc 2020 from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon.
Transcript: ilili


RT: Hello and Welcome to CorkRules! 

A podcast where, in each episode, we will review a wine list from your favorite restaurants. I’m your host Robert Tas along with Michaela Quinlan, Certified Sommelier.

Hello Michaela, it’s great to be back together for another episode.

MQ: Hi Robert!

RT: Before we jump in, let’s talk about CorkRules. We created CorkRules to demystify wine lists because we know from experience, that sometimes when we get that list handed to us, well… it can be intimidating, and even a little daunting.

Our aim is to help prepare you to navigate that list, find those hidden gems, or value wines or that special bottle that will take your dining experience over the top.

RT: So, sit back and listen as we review your favorite wine list.

RT: Today we are talking about Ilili. Ilili features a modern take on traditional Lebanese cuisine. Located in the Flatiron district, these sharable menu options will transport you to a world of spices and herbs.

Michaela, I can’t wait to hear what do you think of their wine list?

MQ: I have some dear friends from Beirut, and never have I turned down a chance to sample their cooking. I could enjoy their roasted chicken and kibbeh every day. The wine list at Ilili features some amazing selections from Lebanon that will make for wonderful dinner companions.

RT: That’s really great, as you looked at the list did you see anything jump out at you?

MQ: To start things off with a light, white wine, I would recommend the Massaya Blanc 2020 from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. This blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc features peach, apricot, citrus, and minerality. A perfect aperitif.

RT: That is for sure unique.

So, Michaela, their list seems to have lots of range but was there anything that you would say is a “must-try”?

MQ: A must-try for or our red wine drinkers, I would begin with a glass of the Domaine des Tourelles Cinsault 2018, also from the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Many of the grape varieties you will find in Lebanon are traditional French wine grapes. Cinsault is no exception. The red currants, ripe strawberry, along with the black pepper will certainly prep your palate for any of their amazing menu items.

RT: These are some great calls.

So, you know I’m getting thirsty and will need to order a bottle with my dinner, where would you guide us?

MQ: From Mt. Lebanon, I would consider the Domaine de Baal Blanc 2018. This dry white wine is a blend of Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. Yes, a blanc from Cabernet Franc. The color of the wine comes from the contact of the juice and skin, so in this case, the clear juice of the Cabernet Franc grape is extracted then later blended with Chardonnay to produce a medium-bodied wine with outstanding aromas and flavors of grapefruit, citrus, white flowers. A wonderful pairing for any herbal dishes.

RT: Ooh, Terrific.

Michaela, speaking of price, sometimes people have a budget in mind.  any other great value wines you’d point us to? 

MQ: Absolutely! Let’s travel to Morocco for the Thalvin (Alain Graillot) Zenata ‘Syrocco’ Syrah 2018. Here we have an old-world style grape variety taking on Mediterranean characteristics. This syrah features ripe blackberries, dried cranberries, smoke and spice. This is your pairing when sharing any of the spiced menu items.

RT: For me personally…

MQ: Absolutely!

RT: Now Michaela, what if I have a big client dinner or special occasion where I want to take it up a notch?

 MQ: Let’s return to the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon and experience the Château Musar 1998. This remarkable blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault, and Carignan welcomes decanting in order to truly showcase the rich tannins, earth, smoke, tobacco, and hints of vaNULLla from French oak aging. This highly rated blend will add to any celebration and pair beautifully with any rich selections.

RT: Michaela, thank you so much for all your great suggestions and helping us navigate Ilili’s wine list. I can’t wait to go try them myself.  

To our audience, thank you all for joining us here on CorkRules.

If you would like us to review one of your favorite restaurants, please send us email to: Info@corkrules.Com or visit our web website where we have a request form available and we will do our best to get it in the queue as quickly as possible.

We are looking forward to being with you on another CorkRules episode soon. In the meantime, please check out our website for other episodes of your favorite restaurant wine lists. 

And finally, drink what you love and please make sure you drink responsibly.

Thank you.








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