It is known that the Greeks were a foundational aspect of the creation of Western culture. Their love of food and wine, theatre, and art has transcended through the centuries and is quite relevant still today.
Despite the fact that wine has been produced in Greece for thousands of years, in our current wine industry, Greek wines are still relatively unknown. Like many Mediterranean cultures, wine is consumed with meals, only paired with foods that they are meant to be paired with, in an attempt to achieve their fullest potential.
Greece is a fairly large country and within its borders lie four climatic zones, each of which contributes unique aspects to the wine regions that exist there. In Northern Greece, they experience more of a mountain climate with higher winds and colder temperatures which makes it a wonderful home for growing white grapes and producing sparkling wines.
Many tourists picture Greece as all white and stucco which is really only the aesthetic of the Aegean Islands, like Santorini. Here, there is boundless sunshine and a warm humidity that comes from the Aegean Sea. Santorini specifically is a very dry island and the water has a high level of salt, which gives the wines a unique minerality. Central Greece resembles Northern Greece but is more arid and has higher temperatures. The further south you go, the hotter and drier it gets, so the Southern zone of Greece is ripe with white grapes.
Unlike many of the wine producing countries of Europe, Greece’s main focus is on their own grapes although there are French-based noble grapes grown there. There are many varietals produced in Greece but the four most popular are Assyrtiko, Moschofilero, Agiorgitiko, and Xinomavro. Assyrtiko is a white wine that comes from Santorini packed full of delicious fruity flavors like passionfruit, lemon, and pineapple. Moschofilero is also a white wine but is on the drier side with stone fruits and aromatics. Agiorgitiko is a full-bodied red that boasts dark fruits like raspberries and currants and is commonly used to make rosé. Xinomavro is known to resemble the Italian Nebbiolo with its licorice and allspice notes that make it a powerful red.
The wines of Greece are very special and are a little more unique than that of their Old World neighbors. If you’re looking to try something new, reach for a Greek bottle of wine and maybe even cook yourself a Greek dinner to go along with it!
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