A Quick Guide to Greek Wine Grapes
Greece is one of the most ancient wine producing regions in the world but has only recently caught the attention of wine lovers. In the modern era, Greek wine is only just experiencing a renaissance. We’ll take a brief look at some of the major grape varieties that are unique to Greece.
This ultra-acidic white grape is the best that Greece has to offer in the world of white wine coming from the island of Santorini. Assyrtiko is noted for its ability to maintain a high level of acid even as it ripens, making it phenomenally food-friendly. Slightly salty, citrusy and typically bone dry, it is excellent with all manner of seafood. Sweet versions also exist. Our pick is the Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko.
This white grape was on the verge of extinction before being resurrected by Domaine Carras – who incidentally makes some of the best Malagousia you’ll ever taste. Aromatic and elegant, it tastes of heady white flowers, ripe citrus, and tropical fruits.
One of the oldest grape families in the world, Muscat is grown all over Greece where it is made into lusciously sweet dessert wines. The best versions come from the island of Samos and Patras in mainland Greece. Honeyed, floral, and rich, Greek Muscat dessert wines are some of the finest you’ll find along the Mediterranean.
Possibly the most important red grape to come out of Greece, this rich, inky, tannic red definitely leads the way for quality Greek wine. It can age beautifully and is capable of great complexity. It’s a delicious wine whose name means ‘acid black’ and is grown throughout Naoussa and Macedonia in northern Greece. Try it with barbecues, roasted meats, or stews. We like Thymiopoulus Xinomavro from Naoussa.
Often described as the ‘noblest’ of Greece’s reds, Agiorghitiko aka St. George’s makes gorgeous wines. It is indigenous to Nemea where the wine has been dubbed the “blood of Hercules’ after the myth in which the demigod killed the Nemean lion. It’s the most widely planted of the native Greek red varieties, something it achieved only recently – Xinomavro used to hold that position. From soft and lush to rather tannic and absolutely age-worthy, Agiorghitiko is definitely worth exploring.
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