Turkey is a pretty big country; the second biggest country, in fact, in Europe by square mileage, if you count the part that technically resides in Asia. This giant nation holds so many historical treasures, gorgeous foods, and most importantly (in our opinion), beautiful wine regions. With over 1.5 million acres of grapevines planted for wine production, Turkey actually comes in as the fourth leading producer of grapes in the world.
Where Turkey sits within Europe is part of the Transcaucasus region, an area that houses the Caucasus Mountains and covers Eastern Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Northern Iran. This geographical region is actually said to be the true home of wine production as the predecessors of the ancient empires lived here were a key part of the spreading of viticulture around the world. There are currently over 1,200 grapevine varieties currently grown in Turkey which challenges Italy as “the true land of the grape.”
In Turkey, there are over 800 indigenous varieties grown, but the three most popular are Bogazkere, Emir, and Okuzgozu. Bogazkere, one of Turkey’s most revered red grapes, is quite tannic and acidic, and the name actually translates to “throat burner,” if that tells you anything. Emir was once the wine of lords, and it is grown in the famous region of Cappadocia. It’s a smooth, crisp white wine that is similar to Pinot Grigio with tart and fruity flavors. Okuzgozu is acidic and floral and is composed of darker flavors that make it a gorgeous blending wine. It’s actually commonly blended with Bogazkere as the two tend to balance each other out well.
One of the unique parts of Turkey’s wine industry that separates it from many of the leading wine producing countries is that there are no denomination of origin (DOC) regulations. The only part of the production process that isn’t self-regulated by the winemakers themselves is in regards to marketing and advertising.
As a country, Turkey consumes more beer than anything else so most of the wine produced there is actually consumed outside of its home nation. Recently, Turkish wines have been popping up in more stores here in the U.S. so take this opportunity to experience something new and delightful from the other side of the world!
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