When people think about European wines, they almost automatically think about countries such as France, Italy, or Spain. However, this truly is a shame since Greece has a lot to offer when it comes to wine as well. So, if you’re a wine enthusiast and you want to learn a little more about the Greek wine history and about noteworthy, different kinds of Greek wine, keep reading to find out!
Short Overview of Greek Wine History
Before directly diving into the most prominent brands of Greek wine, it’s pertinent to shed some light on the Greek wine history. To be more concrete, the Greek people have been producing wine since Ancient Greek, with the island Crete as the ultimate starting point. Even more so, there even exist numerous murals from that time period that are entirely dedicated to winemaking alone. Back then, wine had an enormous cultural relevance to the Greek people, even going as far as worshipping a so-called God of wine, called Dionysus. The Greek people also were known to be true traders in wine, but unfortunately, later historical conquests had a very negative impact on the Greek wine business. Thousands of years later, the Greeks are actively trying to change this and are trying to make a name for themselves again in the industry. With success!
The Most Prominent Types of Greek Wine
First and foremost, Retsina might just be the most famous Greek wine brand out there and is even considered a national drink in Greece. The Retsina wine can appear in the form of a rosé wine but most typically, it appears as a light white wine. Retsina has been around for over 7000 thousand years and is made from the Greek white Savatiano grapes, sometimes mixed with a hint of the Roditis wine grape.
Nowadays, Retsina is produced basically everywhere in Greece, but the wine’s origin mainly is in central Greece and Attika, which is an idyllic Greece peninsula.
Retsina is notorious for its very outspoken resin taste. This is because early on, the wine was stored within amphorae, which were often lubricated with resin on the inside. Hence, this has contributed significantly to the wine’s strong taste. Nowadays, the Greek people even artificially add resin to the wine in order to preserve the wine for a longer time. Some people aren’t a big fan of Retsina’s taste because it’s so strong, but for those who love it, Retsina can be quite refreshing and can cause a true taste explosion in your mouth.
Samos Vin Doux
Another very popular Greek wine is Samos Vin Doux. This white wine is named after the island Samos from which it originates, which immediately explains the origin of the name of the wine as well.
Samos is a particularly sweet Muscat wine and is made entirely from the Greek Muscat Petit-Grain wine grapes. This type of wine grape is most commonly used to produce sweet dessert wines, which explains why Samos is so remarkably sweet in taste. Additionally, Samos has hints of dried fruits as well, ranging from pear and apricot to ripe melon. As a result, the Greek people often drink this type of wine while eating a fresh plate of fruit, because these flavors mix extremely well.
Besides the wine’s taste, Samos has a very peculiar appearance as well. That is to say, you can recognize the wine by its color, which is a unique shade of orange with a touch of copper.
Another wine region that positively deserves to be on this list is Naoussa, which is an immensely popular red wine region in Greece. These Naoussa wines actually originate from Greek Macedonia and date back to the end of the 1900s. Up until this day, the winemaking process of this Greek brand has predominantly been in the hands of the Thymiopoulos family.
These wines are made from the red Xinomavro wine grape, which is mostly responsible for the wine’s intense flavors. This red, almost black grape has a very high acidity level and provides the Naoussa wines with a very complex taste. To be more concrete, these wines have a very ripe and fruity taste with a lot of tannins. Some would even describe the taste as slightly spicy. Finally, these Naoussa wines are also known for their soft, yet long aftertaste.
Still on the topic of popular Greek red wines, it’s time to give Nemea some much-needed attention. This intense red Greek wine originally was produced in the region, Peloponnese, which is the biggest peninsula in Greece. This wine is made completely from the Agiorgitiko wine grapes, which grow at the foot of Mount Kyllini.
These Agiorgitiko grapes have resulted in a very rich red wine, called Nemea. When taking a sniff of this type of wine, you immediately get a sense of aromas such as hints of ripe cherries or blackberries. Also, the Nemea wine has a very elegant, rich taste that’s soft at the same time. Because of this, it’s a wine that goes remarkably well with meat dishes. Because of the taste of this wine, Nemea has become a very popular brand on an international level.
Moreover, another wine that’s known for its unique taste is Robola. This type of wine almost exclusively gets made in only one place in Greece, that being the Greek island of Kefalonia. That’s because, on this island, you can find the white Robola grapes, which are very elegant types of grapes.
As far as the wine’s color goes, Robola wine has a very bright color that can be described as a soft shade of yellow. As far as taste goes, that’s a little more complicated to describe. Essentially, the wine has a very sophisticated taste and when you take a sip of this wine, you will immediately be met with citrus flavors. Additionally, Robola is also slightly sweet and fruity. As a result, Robola is a very young, dynamic, and refreshing wine.
On a related note, in comparison to the former wine on this list, Robola is a wine that’s best matched with pasta or fish.
Next up, this Pezoules wine comes in both white and red, but it’s especially the red variant that deserves some acknowledgment. This Greek wine of Mare Magnum is made from wine grapes that originate from very high vineyards that can be found in the Macedonian region in Northern Greece. More concretely, the wine is made from a blend of Merlot grapes and the popular Greek Xinomavro grapes.
It’s precisely through this unique blend of grapes that this Greek wine has gotten its deep, dark ruby red color. However unique this color might be, this pales in comparison to the uniqueness of the wine’s flavor. That is to say, the Pezoules red wine has a very high concentration of fruits, but that’s not all. When you smell the wine, you will immediately notice the rich aromas of red ripe fruits such as cherries, blackberries, and red berries.
Besides fruity, this wine can be described as a mix of Greek spices as well, which makes it a very balanced type of wine. Also, most people find this Mare Magnum wine notably refreshing, juicy, smooth, and expressive, yet mild at the same time. Because of this mix of flavors, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this is a wine that goes well with various kinds of dishes, such as pasta, fish, meat dishes, and vegetarian dishes.
Mavrodaphne of Pátras
Last, but certainly not least, it’s worth mentioning Mavrodaphne of Pátras, which is an incredibly sweet red Greek dessert wine. This Greek wine is entirely made from the Mavrodaphne wine grape and originates from the region around the Gulf of Corinth. Thus, this wine gets produced in a very mild, Mediterranean climate.
This peculiar Greek wine has a very warm, almost brick red color. As far as the taste goes, Mavrodaphne of Pátras provides a mix of different tastes. For instance, there’s a hint of numerous tastes such as cacao, plum, cherry, raisin, cinnamon, clove, mocha, and even vanilla. This might seem like a very unusual and random mix of flavors, but they actually all come together in a very harmonious whole. On a related note, this wine is remarkably aromatic, soft, sweet, and warm and will provide you with a very long aftertaste. If you’re wondering which desserts you can best drink this wine best, it’s recommended to drink it together with eating chocolate desserts, very sweet desserts, or a bowl of fresh fruit.
All in all, even though Greece might not be as internationally well-known in the global wine industry in comparison to certain other wine-producing countries, that doesn’t mean that Greece should be underestimated in this department. The above-mentioned list of Greek wines clearly demonstrates this statement. That being said, there are thousands more Greek wines besides the ones mentioned in this article. However, these ones mentioned here are a great place to start if you want to fully immerse yourself in the delicious world of Greek wines and all that it has to offer!