Modern Greek wines are now emerging in the rest of the world. Greece not only offers wonderful value for its wine, but the many varieties will help expand your palate and wine interests. Here’s what you should know about Greek wine.
History of Greek Wine
Greece is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world and dates back 6,500 years. As people migrated to Greece from other areas they brought with them their grape vines. As groups settled and grew, the wine production in Greece did as well.
The most reputable wines of ancient Greece were Chian, Coan, Mendaean, Rhodian, and Euboean just to name a few. Excavations at ancient settlements have brought to light the remains of Vitis Vinifera vines and the remains of wine presses have been found in Crete. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, used wine for medicinal purposes and would prescribe it to his patients. Wine has played a large role in Greece’s history and culture. Ancient Greek writer Euripedes said, “where there is no wine there is no love.”
Varietals of Greek Wine
There are many varietals of Greek wine, but here are six you should know about. Here’s more information:
- Agiorgitiko has become the most widely planted red grape variety in Greece. It is a versatile grape that is used to make everything from light rose wines to rich full-bodied red wines.
- Malagousia is a white grape that has a melon and jasmine scent. It was saved from extinction in the 1970s.
- Athiri is a white wine grape, which is used to make Retsina on the island of Rhodes. It’s known for its lemon character.
- Mandilaria is a red wine grape that is mainly used as a blending component with other varieties.
- Dafni is one of the oldest indigenous white varieties of Crete. Dafni means, “laurel” in Greek and perfectly describes its aroma. This wine is still quite rare having been brought back in the 1980s from near extinction.
- Aidani is a white wine grape that is mainly grown in Santorini and other Cyclades islands. Vinifications are low alcohol, low acidity, and lemon and floral aromas.
Common Wine Regions in Greece
Greece is diverse in terms of climate and this makes for varied wines from the different regions.
- Northern Greece (Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace) is a wet climate and known for its white grapes:Malagousia and Assyrtiko and its red grapes: Xinomarvo, Merlot, and Syrah.
- Central Greece (Central Greece, Thessaly, Attica) is a modulating Mediterranean climate and is mainly known forSavatiano and Xinomavro, but also Merlot and Chardonnay.
- Southern Greece (Crete, Peloponnese,Kefalonia) is of stable Mediterranean climate. The area is known for Muscat Blanc, Robola (Kefalonia), Liatiko (Crete), and Roditis.
- The Aegean Islands (Santorini, Samos,Limnos, etc.) is an arid climate. Santorini has a unique soil due to the volcanic eruption that occurred around 1600 BC. It is known for Assyrtiko, Greece’s most famous white wine. Other wine grapes from the area include Muscat Blanc (Samos), and Mandilaria (Paros).
The wines of Greece have a long and interesting history and wine lovers throughout the world are certain to enjoy it!