For the Greeks, the wine has been closely related with their culture and religion. The favorable climate of the region as well as the advantageous kind of soil has allowed the inhabitants to cultivate vine since 13d and 11th century B.C. Not only they produced wine but also they exported it to Asia and Africa. Homer, Plato and Xenophon have mentioned many times the culture of wine in Greece to their hand scripts.
The wine is the medicine against misery – Sophocles (496 Β.C- 406 B.C)
During the antiquity, the wine was adored. The Greeks believed that the Olympic God Dionysus was the protector of their favorite drink. They used to held celebrations and organize theater plays dedicated to him. Unlike today, the wine was mixed with water since they wanted to avoid the effects of the alcohol. Wine was the main drink in the Symposiums where all great philosophers and thinkers of ancient Greece argue in favor of their innovative ideas.
Why should I try Greek wines?
As it was previously mentioned the Greeks and the wine have a long term relationship. The cultivation of the vine and the production of the wine are rooted deep to the DNA of the local winemakers. The vineyards growing in the land are blessed with the mild Mediterranean climate. The grapes ripen under the best conditions letting the fruit gain all the aromas and elements that needs to create afterwards a fine must. The most amazing fact is that varieties aged back in the ancient times are still cultivated by the Greeks continuing the huge tradition. Who would ever think that nowadays we can drink the same wine as Socrates and Aristotle tasted thousand years ago.
The vineyards spread all over the country are built with love and passion about the wine production. Their owners are highly experienced and know how to reach the best result when it comes about fine taste. The facilities contain small production units. Thus, the quality is easily to be preserved and maintained. Each of them reveals a story of the provenance.
Which are the Greek wine varieties?
Since you are a wine enthusiast or if you are fond of discovering new flavors check the list of some fine Greek wines we gathered for you. Each one of them has unique origin and flavor. Are you intrigued yet?
First we have our suggestions in red wines. Although our ancestors liked to mix it with water, we tend to refrain from that. Besides, who wants to alter a fine taste? To start with Agiorgitiko mostly cultivated in Korinthos and sporadically in other regions in Greece as well. The aromas of the wines are fruity with a sense of cherry and also with spices and rosemary. You should try it with fatty meat and thick red salads or with bush meat. Then there is Limnio from the region of Halkidiki and from Limnos Island. This kind of grape was also mentioned in the writings of Aristotle and Isiodos during the antiquity. The wine created has a full flavor with a light scent of fruit aromas and spices especially when it underlies maturation. It can also be found white or rose wines from this particular kind of grape. When it comes to the red version matches perfectly with meat, bush meat and with yellow cheese with heavy flavor. If you prefer to eat fish, seafood or oysters Limnio is the perfect wine to combine with your meal as well.
The third to our list is Xinomavro from North Greece. It has been characterized as the Greek Pinot Noir. Depending on the time of maturation the color of the wine has gradations. It can be dark red to crimson red. The aromas dominated are the ones of spices and red fruits. The peculiar character of this variety makes the maturation almost mandatory in order to soothe their flavor. Οne more red wine(but it can also be found in white version) is Aidani. It is cultivated in Cyclades mostly in Paros, Naxos and Santorini and also in Crete. The vine gives dry and sweet wines like the famous wine from Santorini called Vinsanto. The wine has average alcohol content and acidity and it stands out for the aromas of flowers. Aidani is the ideal variety for the wine enthusiasts who have a demanding uraniscus. You should try a bottle combined with oysters and fatty fish.
And the last suggested wine from our list is Mavrotragano. Until recently it was jeopardized with extinction but fortunately this unique root was saved and preserved. The volcanic soil of Santorini created the best conditions for cultivation of this root. The must has a high content in alcohol and has average acidity. It has a fine fruity aroma combining with spices and red forest fruits. The winemakers tend to maturate the must up to 6 years. If you want to taste the variety we would suggest you to complete your degustation with meat and cheese and the wine should be served in 18 °C.
Try a wine you have never tasted before.
Let alone the red wines, Greece has excellent production of white wines as well. The very first wine that would come in our mind to mention is Malagouzia. This particular variety is the perfect example of a renaissance of a root which was in danger and almost extinct. Winemakers, academics and agricultures tried really hard to preserve and boost the number of the vines. Nowadays, Malagouzia is considered to be a grape with a wide range of popularity globally that produces fine dry white wines and some amazing sweeter ones. The color is smooth yellow-green with an extremely intense flavor. From the first sip you can understand a slight taste of peach, green pepper, basil and flowers. The alcohol percentage is quite high. A fine bottle of Malagouzia is perfectly combined with grilled fish, seafood, white meat, and poultry as well as with cheese with mediocre strong flavor. Are you wondering which blessed regions are heavy producers of such grape? You can find it in Halkidiki and in central-west side of the Greek mainland.
In Peloponnese is cultivated Moschofilero. It is another variety which is connected deeply with the tradition of the production of wine during the antiquity. Moschofilero is a dynamic variety from which can be produced different kind of wines from dry white to rose fruity or even sweet. Moschofilero is ranked as the first wine in consuming among the Greeks and the first in exporting. A glass of wine is better accompanied with fish, white meat or with pasta. Due to its high acidity it is also the best wine to drink if you want to taste dishes with raw seafood.
Leaving the mainland we should go on a trip to the islands. Their microclimate is perfect for the cultivation of grapes and the locals know how to make the most out of them so they can serve the best tastes to the consumers. In Kefalonia we have one of the most pure Greek white varieties called Robola. Humbly enough to say that it may be the most expensive wine in Greece. The drink has the color of an unripe lemon and has intense scent of summer and citrus fruits. Concerning the degustation part you should try it with fish and seafood. But if you asked for our opinion we would tell you to be bolder. What about trying the feature dish of the Ionian Island? A dish of cod and garlic dip is better to be eaten with a glass of Robola.
4000 years of history in winemaking in your glass.
A variety from the Aegean Sea is Athiri. It can also be found in Rhodes and in Crete. It is considered to be one of the finest Greek wines. Athiri gives mostly white dry wines with high percentage in alcohol. The color is yellow-white with a pleasant fruity scent. It is quite smooth in the mouth, fresh and balanced. It is best served with oysters, seafood and grilled fish or light cheese and fruits in 10-12 °C. One more great wine from the Aegean, especially from Santorini is Assyrtiko. It gives light and white wines with the scents of sour citrus fruits. The presence of the apple aromas and the pear as long as the aromas of the honey, raisin and incense give the peculiar character to Assysrtiko as we know it. The fact that the variety can give both sweet and dry wines makes it ideal to drink it along with seafood, grilled fish and cheese.
Dafni is definitely one of the most rare and ancient Cretan varieties which was also abandoned by the producers and recently was saved from extinction. The name comes from the homonym plant Dafni due to the similarities of their aromas. It produces dry white wines with aromas of spicy herbals. It is an ideal choice for those who do not enjoy drinks with high alcohol percentage. You should better taste it with light summer meals such as pasta and salads. Finally, we have Rhoditis in our list. It is the most popular root in Greece and it grows almost everywhere. The aromas of its grape have a slight scent of lemon and a refreshing acidity. You can try it either as an aperitif or as an excellent drink with the hors d’oeuvres.
What is Retsina?
Retsina is the kind of Greek wine which is formulated with the supplement of pine resin in the white wine. It has been produced in Greece for at least 2000 years. The European Union treats the name ‘Retsina’ as a protected designation of origin and traditional appellation for Greece. Today it comes from the wine varieties of Savatiano, Assyrtiko, Athiri and Rhoditis and sometimes they are blended. We urge you to taste a glass of cold Retsina accompanied with traditional Greek dishes. Some people drink it after they mix it with soda or coke. It is a very good choice for a dinner with traditional Greek salad and our beloved feta cheese along with fresh seafood and fish. It is dry and refreshing with a nice yellow-gold color.
What is the special thing that distinguishes the Greek varieties from others?
Greece located in the Mediterranean region is blessed with the mild climate. In addition it combines a wide range of different geographical features in a small piece of land. You can find high summits and rocky cliffs next to lush forests and valleys and then endless coastlines or barren islands. Thus the microclimate of each particular area is alternating. And for that exact reason the roots growing here are many. In every single region can be cultivated different vine depending on the needs of the plant of the external factors.
The wines are distilled with love and passion from their winemakers.
The climate favors different kind of vines to grow normally without being distracted by extreme meteorological phenomenon. The grapes produced are pure and until they are ripened they are able to gain all the elements into their flesh that is needed to create the best must. All this leads to the final stage of the winemaking. Having raw material that is the finest quality undeniably will create the best luscious wines.
Which are the main spots which are famous for their wines?
If we had a map of Greece and mark every region of the country that produces wines then almost the whole country would be red. Seems hard to tell which area particularly distinguishes. However we gathered for you some places where you should definitely pay a visit to fulfill your love for wine tasting.
After reading the above list of the wine varieties we are sure that at least one of them stood out that is close to your taste. If you want to have a glass of fine Athiri, Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, Rhoditis or Limnio then Halkidiki’s wineries are the choice for you. All these 5 varieties are growing vastly in the North of Greece. The wineries there are easily accessible for the tourists and they are offered for the best degustation and wine tour guiding experience. You can visit the vineyards and see how the grapes grow and then follow the process of the must becoming a tasteful wine. In addition at the outskirts of Thessaloniki and quite close in the region of Halkidiki you can taste the best Malagouzia in its winery. If you want to stay in Halkidiki we have for you some recommended place to spend your holidays. There are plenty villas from which you can choose. All of them are the epitome of fine living. Especially staying in Sithonia you can easily combine it with a tour to the vineyards in the area which are close to the residence. If you choose Kassandra then toy can easily access the popular vineyard in Epanomi.
Are you a fan of Vinsanto? Then you should definitely go to Santorini to taste Aidani or Mavrotragano. The unique volcanic soil of the island gives the exceptional taste to the wines produced. Knowing that your favorite wine was created in such a beautiful place wouldn’t be nice if you visited its provenance as well? Amazing residences are located in Santorini whish are the best choice for anyone who wants to meet the island and at the same time see in person the local vineyards.
Make a toast under the bright sun by the sea.
The famous and expensive wine Robola is originated in the Ionian Island of Kefalonia. Locals say that only in Kefalonia you can taste the actual flavor of this wine since it is extremely susceptible to oxidation. This means that once it is bottled and shipped away to other selling spots the flavor starts to lose the initiate aromas. For a determined wine lover this is unacceptable. Kefalonia is the place to be if you want to join to a full vineyard guiding and degustation and drink the authentic and unspoiled Robola. Speaking about local tastes we should have in mind Dafni, the Cretan variety. People in the famous island are known for their hospitality and their desire to gather to drink and dance. Sounds like the best destination to for those who seek fine quality of wine and warm people to share their secrets about it. Luxury villas are spread all over Crete to host any wine enthusiast who wants to relax and at the same time travel around the local vineyards.
Peloponnese is another region with big tradition in the production of wine. Here you can find the two exceptional varieties Moschofilero and Agiorgitiko. If you want to visit the famous vineyards of Nemea then you can find accommodation in the picturesque Nafplio. The city is quiet, graphic and its hundreds alleys lead to the sea. Nafplio can be your base for your excursions in the wineries nearby. Last but not least we have you a must destination for the winter. Amyntaio is a village in north Greece. It is nestled amphitheatric on the mountain. The lush vegetation and the graphic character of the village compose the perfect romantic environment. Imagine being by the fireplace watching the snow falling with a glass of Xinomavro.
We applause the love you have for wines. Greece is a country with huge tradition in its production. Drinking Greek fine wines instantly connects you with the ancient times. How amazing is the fact that the same wine you drink today was adored thousands years ago during the antiquity? We could easily say that you can be part of a continuous story. We suggest you to seize the opportunity to taste new flavors in wines and at the same time visit the provenance of each variety for an unforgettable tour in the vineyards.