Greek wine has a long and storied history that dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks were among the first to cultivate grapes for winemaking, and their techniques and traditions have had a lasting impact on the world of wine. The ancient Greeks believed that wine was a gift from the gods, and it played a central role in their religious and social practices. They even had a god of wine, Dionysus, who was celebrated with festivals and rituals.
The ancient Greeks were skilled winemakers, using clay jars called amphorae to ferment and store their wine. They recognized the importance of the terroir, or the combination of soil, climate, and topography, in producing high-quality grapes. They also developed a system for classifying wines based on their color, sweetness, and age. Greek wine was highly valued and sought after in the ancient world, with exports reaching as far as Egypt and Rome.
Greek Wine in Mythology and Ancient Greece
Greek wine was not only a part of everyday life in ancient Greece, but it was also deeply intertwined with mythology and religion. The Greeks believed that wine was a divine elixir that connected mortals with the gods. Wine played a central role in their religious ceremonies and was used as an offering to the gods. It was also believed to have medicinal properties and was used as a remedy for various ailments.
In ancient Greece, wine was not just a beverage, but a symbol of social status and power. It was often served at banquets and symposia, where philosophers, poets, and politicians would gather to discuss important topics. Wine was seen as a catalyst for intellectual and creative inspiration, and it was believed to enhance one's ability to engage in philosophical discourse and artistic expression.
Greek Wine in the Byzantine and Ottoman Era
During the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, Greek wine faced significant challenges and underwent major transformations. The rise of Christianity and the influence of Islamic culture led to restrictions on alcohol consumption, and winemaking became a heavily regulated industry. Many vineyards and wineries were destroyed, and wine production declined.
However, Greek wine managed to survive and adapt to the changing political and social landscape. Monasteries played a crucial role in preserving winemaking traditions, as they were allowed to produce wine for religious purposes. The monks not only continued to cultivate grapes and produce wine, but they also developed new techniques and improved the quality of Greek wine.
In the Ottoman Empire, Greek wine became popular among the ruling class, and it was exported to other parts of Europe. Greek merchants played a key role in the trade of wine, and they helped establish Greek wine as a luxury product in international markets.
Revival and Modernization of Greek Wine
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Greek wine experienced a revival and modernization. Winemakers began to adopt new technologies and techniques, such as stainless-steel fermentation tanks and temperature control, which improved the quality and consistency of Greek wines. The focus shifted from quantity to quality, and winemakers started to explore different grape varieties and terroirs.
Greek wine also started to gain recognition and acclaim on the international stage. Greek winemakers began participating in wine competitions and receiving awards for their wines. This helped raise the profile of Greek wine and attract attention from wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs around the world.
Today, Greece is known for its diverse and unique wine regions, each with its own distinct characteristics. From the volcanic soils of Santorini to the mountainous vineyards of Macedonia, Greek wines offer a wide range of flavors and styles. Winemakers continue to experiment and innovate, combining traditional winemaking methods with modern practices to create exceptional wines that showcase the rich history and culture of Greece.
Greek Wine Today: A Taste of Tradition and Innovation
In the modern era, Greek wine has become increasingly popular and appreciated for its quality and authenticity. Greek winemakers have embraced sustainable and organic practices, focusing on preserving the environment and producing wines that reflect the unique characteristics of their terroir.
Greek wines are known for their vibrant acidity, distinctive flavors, and elegant structure. Indigenous grape varieties such as Assyrtiko, Xinomavro, and Agiorgitiko have gained international recognition and are celebrated for their ability to express the terroir and capture the essence of Greece.
Owners Picks - Greek Wines
Malagouzia Grape - Excellently married with green salads, baked vegetables, pasta, low fat fishes and a wide variety of Greek sea food "Meze".
- Alpha Estate Malagouzia
Assyrtiko Grape - Pairing harmoniously with shellfish, crab, mild fish and fried cheese.
- Gavalas Santorini Assyrtiko
- Santo Santorini Assyrtiko
- Alpha Estate Assyrtiko
Xinomavro Grape - Perfect match with juicy red barbecued meats, spicy sausages, game, red baked peppers in olive oil, light spicy full body cheeses.
- Akakias Sparking
- Alpha Estate Xinomavro
Agiorgitiko Blends - Juicy red meats accompanied rich aromatic sauces and cheddar cheese
- Nostos Alexander - Agioritiko and Monemvasia
- Skouras Grand Cuvee - Agioritiko and Monemvasia
- Techni Alipias Red Blend - Agioritiko and Cabernet Sauvignon
Vinsanto Santorini Dessert Wine - Chocolate cake, bitter chocolate, vanilla ice cream, baklava, blue cheese or by the glass.
Whether you're enjoying a crisp and refreshing white wine on a sunny day or savoring a bold and complex red wine with a hearty meal, Greek wines offer a taste of tradition and innovation. They are a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of Greece, and they continue to delight wine enthusiasts around the world.