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By Claire Spinner | April 21, 2021

Pita Jungle is stepping into spring with its new proprietary wines Jungle Vino, a cabernet sauvignon red blend and a chardonnay.

Matchbook Winery in Dunnigan Hills, California, helped create the wine for the Tempe-based chain.

Pita Jungle co-founder Bassel Osmani knew he wanted to bring something special to the table as the country begins to return to normalcy. After a year of hardship, he wanted to give people something to celebrate.

Osmani wanted a wine option that customers could enjoy in-house or at home without breaking their budget. Osmani wanted to ensure the wine was high grade and economical, to match Pita Jungle’s typical menu pricing.

“Our food is high quality, but our pricing has always been value pricing,” Osmani says. “With most wines, by the time you apply restaurant markups, there would be a huge disparity between the price of an entree and the price of a bottle of wine. We wanted to strike a perfect balance between high quality, drinkability and affordability — something that worked with not only our menu but our pricing schemes.”

Osmani was inspired to partner with Matchbook Wines after trying one of its wines at another local restaurant chain. After reaching out to the family-owned winery, the collaboration began.

Matchbook Wines co-founder Lane Giguiere says the partnership just made sense to her.

“The synergies just worked,” Giguiere says. “We are both family-owned businesses. We’re part of our communities. We care about what we do and put our hearts and souls into what we produce. I think that we just fit right in with what they were doing.”

The partnership was challenged by the pandemic, as Osmani was never able to travel to the winery himself. Instead, representatives at the winery sent over samples to Pita Jungle.

Giguiere says the process was relatively smooth, despite the inability to meet in person.

“They told us a direction, what kind of red and chardonnay they were looking for, so we continued to send over samples and tweak them until we came up with a style that really fit what they wanted,” Giguiere says.

Osmani had particular ideas when it came to what he was looking for in the wines. For the red, he was looking for something European inspired to match the Mediterranean food that Pita Jungle is known for. With the help of Matchbook, a blend of cabernet, malbec and petit verdot was created.

“It’s a very well-balanced wine that evokes dark fruit, black cherry, blackberry, and spices like clove. It was made to go perfectly with our citrusy, bright dishes,” Osmani says.

The other new wine, a chardonnay, was based on Osmani’s personal preferences — like much of the food on Pita Jungle’s menu. It is also meant to complement dishes, and it pairs well with spicier, garlicky options.

“I wanted something with less woodiness and oakiness than many of the popular chardonnays in the United States. Those just aren’t my favorite types of wines,” Osmani says.

“This one has a more subtle oakiness and toastiness to it. It’s a little bit more fresh, fruity and bright.”

With the wines on sale for $18 per bottle, anyone is welcome to have a taste of the new collaboration. Osmani says he hopes this will bring not only some joy to his patrons but that it will bring some much-needed energy to the company, which struggled during the pandemic.

“This is some good news in the wake of this whole pandemic that has been really crippling to a lot of businesses, us included, and this helps us see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he says. “We’re seeing people coming back, and we’re very excited to be offering these wines to them.”